Football:All-time Greats and Award Winners

Statistics don’t always give a reliable guide to the greatest performers in all sports. Football is one such sport. As it is a team game the great individuals aren’t at the top of statistical lists. Particularly when measuring the performances of defenders and midfielders who aren’t scoring lots of goals. For this reason the top players are judged subjectively. Here are some of the more reliable lists of top players.

The World Team of the Twentieth Century was chosen before the World Cup in France in 1998 by 250 football journalists.

Goalkeeper Lev Yashin Soviet Union
Defender (fullback) Carlos Alberto Torres Brazil
Defender (centre-back) Franz Beckenbauer West Germany
Defender (centre-back) Bobby Moore England
Defender (fullback) Nílton Santos Brazil
Midfielder Johan Cruyff Netherlands
Midfielder Alfredo Di Stéfano Argentina
Midfielder Michel Platini France
Forward Garrincha Brazil
Forward Diego Maradona Argentina
Forward Pelé Brazil

World Soccer is a leading English-language football magazine. In December 1999 they announced the results of a readers poll for the greatest footballers of the Twentieth Century. This is a pretty good representative list but as usually the case with these sort of polls it favours more recent players who are remembered by the readers. As the magazine is an English one there is a slight bias to British players. These polls, and also the various awards in football, tend to feature strikers and creative midfielders more than defenders.

Rank  Player
1 Pelé
2 Diego Maradona
3 Johan Cruyff
4 Franz Beckenbauer
5 Michel Platini
6 Alfredo Di Stéfano
7 Ferenc Puskás
8 George Best
9 Marco van Basten
10 Eusébio
11 Lev Yashin
12 Bobby Charlton
13 Ronaldo
14 Bobby Moore
15 Gerd Müller
16 Roberto Baggio
17 Stanley Matthews
18 Zico
19 Franco Baresi
20 Garrincha
21 Paolo Maldini
22 Kenny Dalglish
23 Gabriel Batistuta
24 Eric Cantona
25 Gheorghe Hagi
26 Romário
27 Jairzinho
28 Zinedine Zidane
29 Ruud Gullit
30 John Charles
31 Lothar Matthäus
32 Gordon Banks
33 Jürgen Klinsmann
34 Dennis Bergkamp
35 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
36 Gary Lineker
37 Giuseppe Meazza
38 Rivelino
39 Didi
40 Ian Rush
41 Peter Schmeichel
42 Paolo Rossi
43 George Weah
44 Michael Owen
45 Just Fontaine
46 Duncan Edwards
47 Dino Zoff
48 Hristo Stoichkov
49 David Beckham
50 Tom Finney
51 Rivaldo
52 Claudio Caniggia
53 Tostão
54 Frank Rijkaard
55 José Luis Chilavert
56 Kevin Keegan
57 Paul Gascoigne
58 Roger Milla
59 Michael Laudrup
60 Andriy Shevchenko
61 David Ginola
62 Glenn Hoddle
63 Sócrates
64 Roberto Carlos
65 Alan Shearer
66 Daniel Passarella
67 Davor Šuker
68 Dixie Dean
69 Sándor Kocsis
70 Juan Alberto Schiaffino
71 Christian Vieri
72 Mario Kempes
73 Johan Neeskens
74 Luigi Riva
=75 José Nasazzi
=75 Günter Netzer
77 Alessandro Del Piero
78 Carlos Valderrama
79 Ricardo Zamora
80 Enzo Francescoli
81 Edgar Davids
82 Francisco Gento
83 Jim Baxter
84 Falcão
85 Ryan Giggs
86 Sepp Maier
87 Zbigniew Boniek
88 Pat Jennings
89 György Sárosi
90 Giacinto Facchetti
91 Alan Hansen
92 Raymond Kopa
93 Bryan Robson
94 Matthias Sammer
95 Ladislao Kubala
96 Neville Southall
97 Gérson
98 Paulo Futre
99 Preben Elkjær
100 Bebeto

To bring things more up to date here are the winners of the Footballer of the Year poll organised by World Soccer magazine.

1982 – Paolo Rossi
1983 – Zico
1984 – Michel Platini
1985 – Michel Platini
1986 – Diego Maradona
1987 – Ruud Gullit
1988 – Marco van Basten
1989 – Ruud Gullit
1990 – Lothar Matthäus
1991 – Jean-Pierre Papin
1992 – Marco van Basten
1993 – Roberto Baggio
1994 – Paolo Maldini
1995 – Gianluca Vialli
1996 – Ronaldo
1997 – Ronaldo
1998 – Zinédine Zidane
1999 – Rivaldo
2000 – Luís Figo
2001 – Michael Owen
2002 – Ronaldo
2003 – Pavel Nedved
2004 – Ronaldinho
2005 – Ronaldinho
2006 – Fabio Cannavaro
2007 – Kaká
2008 – Cristiano Ronaldo
2009 – Lionel Messi
2010 – Xavi Hernandez
2011 – Lionel Messi

Players who have won the award more than once

Ronaldo 3
Michel Platini 2
Ruud Gullit 2
Marco van Basten 2
Ronaldinho 2
Lionel Messi 2

 

The FIFA World Player of the year winners (and their countries and clubs) which is voted for by coaches and captains of international teams.

1991 Lothar Matthäus Germany Internazionale
1992 Marco van Basten Netherlands Milan
1993 Roberto Baggio Italy Juventus
1994 Romário Brazil Barcelona
1995 George Weah Liberia Milan
1996 Ronaldo Brazil Barcelona
1997 Ronaldo Brazil Internazionale
1998 Zinedine Zidane France Juventus
1999 Rivaldo Brazil Barcelona
2000 Zinedine Zidane France Juventus
2001 Luís Figo Portugal Real Madrid
2002 Ronaldo Brazil Real Madrid
2003 Zinedine Zidane France Real Madrid
2004 Ronaldinho Brazil Barcelona
2005 Ronaldinho Brazil Barcelona
2006 Fabio Cannavaro Italy Real Madrid
2007 Kaká Brazil Milan
2008 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Manchester United
2009 Lionel Messi Argentina Barcelona
2010 Lionel Messi Argentina Barcelona
2011 Lionel Messi Argentina Barcelona

Multiple award winners

Lionel Messi 3
Zinedine Zidane 3
Ronaldo 3
Ronaldinho 2

The women’s World Player of the Year winners

2001 Mia Hamm United States Washington Freedom
2002 Mia Hamm United States Washington Freedom
2003 Birgit Prinz Germany 1. FFC Frankfurt
2004 Birgit Prinz Germany 1. FFC Frankfurt
2005 Birgit Prinz Germany 1. FFC Frankfurt
2006 Marta Brazil Umeå IK
2007 Marta Brazil Umeå IK
2008 Marta Brazil Umeå IK
2009 Marta Brazil Los Angeles Sol/ Santos
2010 Marta Brazil Los Angeles Sol/ Santos
2011 Homare Sawa Japan INAC Kobe Leonessa

Multiple winners

Marta 5
Birgit Prinz 3
Mia Hamm 2

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