The Best Soccer Players in the World

The Best Soccer Players in the World. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Who is a star player? The definition helps, even when it comes to football. That is, someone who has such outstanding qualities or performance that they cannot be placed in a ranking due to their manifest superiority. Yes, because it’s easy to talk about “champions,”, but when you enter the ranks of champions, you have to be very careful. Putting too many players in the category would reduce its value, making it less than average.

  • Serial Winners
  • The Era of the Galacticos
  • The hand of God
  • Cruyff and others
  • The O Rei throne

That’s why for each “era” of football, a lot of players can be identified, who are then punctually pitted against each other from a media point of view, even if perhaps they have very little in common.

Serial Winners

The last fifteen years, marked by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, are the best example of an era of two undisputed champions. It would be enough to think that from 2008 onwards, all but one of the Ballon d’Ors ended up on the Argentine’s palmaris (7), or on that of the Portuguese (5).

Even if their teams didn’t always win, their numbers and performances were so above average that it’s better not to include them when compiling a list of the best in the world, because Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo definitely make history in their own right, whether we’re talking about Messi’s 50 goals in La Liga in the 2011/12 season or CR7’s 17 goals in the triumphant 2013/14 Champions League. Sure, there were plenty of other notable players during this time, but to even think of comparing them to the two “aliens” is far too much.

The Era of the Galacticos

The previous era is what, if you wish, can be defined as “the era of the Galacticos,” because many of the champions of that period ended up playing for Real Madrid. But who were the real champions of football between the late 1990s and the first part of the 2000s?

Ronaldo Nazario is a name that everyone agrees on, for all… the phenomenon. The Brazilian amazed the world in his early twenties with Barcelona, cried with Inter for injuries and disappointments on the pitch, won with Brazil, and then made the difference in Madrid as well. And if it hadn’t been for those fragile knees, he would have done even more.

Near him? It is difficult to find someone at the same level. Champions like Zidane, Figo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho are undeniably great, but what the phenomenon has represented all over the world, even in terms of image, is… out of this world.

The hand of God

The eighties and the beginning of the nineties were undoubtedly the era of Diego Armando Maradona. The Pibe de Oro began to show his greatness in Barcelona and then became a legend in Naples. Under his guidance, the Neapolitans have become a powerhouse of Italian and European football, also thanks to the possibility that Diego would win the games by himself.

Not to mention the performances with Argentina, which were literally dragged to the victory of the 1986 World Cup with the cleverness of “the  hand of God” in the middle, but also the Goal of the Century, both of which arrived against England. Two colleagues keep him company at two different times.

In the early eighties, the other champion was French, and his name was Michel Platini. The transalpine was a symbol of Juventus, who managed to win everything and led France to victory at the European Championships, the first international trophy for the French national team. Then, when he retired, his place among the champions was taken by Marco van Basten, a Dutchman with fairy feet and fragile ankles.

The Swan of Utrecht, along with three other Ballon d’Or winners like Roi Michel, represented Milan of the Immortals with his goals, but also the Netherlands national team, which in 1988, as an outsider in the markets that had already regulated betting, conquered Europe. As for the phenomenon, all that’s left for him is the regret of having a physique that’s too weak…

Cruyff and others

In the 1970s, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruijff were the champions. West Germany under the “Kaiser” and Ajax under the “Prophet of Goal” dominated the decade in terms of results, trophies, and individual accolades.

The Teutonic embodied the pure German football mentality, and his adaptability allows him to play in the strongest defenses and midfields ever. The Dutchman is the contemporary player whose most dazzling performance allows space for the most helpful. Both were champions and top coaches. No coincidence.

The O Rei throne

From 1958 to 1970, no one in the world was able to destabilize O’Rei’s throne. Pele has been the world’s strongest, most famous, and most loved footballer for over a decade. When we talk about football’s first global celebrity, we must certainly refer to the Brazilian, who, despite having played almost his entire career in his home country (and then in the USA), crossed all borders and was the point of reference for at least a couple of generations.

He can’t locate a rival. Gianni Rivera, Bobby Charlton, George Best, and Lev Jain come to mind, but it’s difficult to match Pele’s level. As you go back over the years, it becomes increasingly difficult to identify the champions. Undoubtedly, the new means of communication have favored a 360-degree view of football, making it possible to establish who is really above each category and who is close but still remains a step below. There are a few names, however, that almost everyone agrees date back to the 1950s.

Like Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas, the stars of Real, the first of five consecutive European Cups. After all, even in the twenties or thirties of the last century, someone must have tried to remember who had come before. Because every era has its champions.