With the countdown starting for FIFA World Cup 2018, soccer fans across the globe are eagerly waiting to see their favorite players in action. With the football season around the corner, there are also talks about who is the greatest soccer player of all time. It’s tough to answer that since it’s not just about the number of goals scored, but various other things such as a soccer player’s popularity, charisma, consistency, unique skills, etc. However, there are some soccer players who will always be cherished, owing to their legendary status. Let’s take a look at some of the greatest soccer players of all time and try to identify things that made them hugely popular among their fans.
Michel Platini: Former French football player, manager and administrator, Michel Platini is ranked amongst the greatest soccer players of all time. Platini is ranked amongst the best passers in the history of soccer. He is also regarded as one of the best free-kick and penalty kick specialists. Platini played as the midfield playmaker and he was known for his versatility, range of passing, ball control, vision, and technical skills. Even when he was a midfielder, Platini was quite good at scoring goals. In his career, Platini scored 224 goals in Club football and 41 goals in international matches.
Marco van Basten: Former Dutch football player and manager, Marco van Basten is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. Marco played as a forward and he had a short, but hugely successful soccer career. He was forced to retire early due to an injury that occurred when he was just 28 years old. Marco was famous for his superior striking abilities, attacking intelligence and smooth finishing. Fans also liked his ability to score acrobatic goals such as volleys and bicycle kicks. Throughout his soccer career, including Club and International matches, Marco scored a total of 300 goals.
Franz Beckenbauer: Known for his dominating style of play, former German footballer and manager Franz Beckenbauer is counted among the greatest players in soccer history. Among the things that made him hugely popular among fans included his elegant style and leadership skills. Franz Beckenbauer was a versatile player, as he started his career as a midfielder, but later switched to the role of central defender. It is said that it was Beckenbauer who created the role of the modern sweeper, also known as ‘libero’. He was given the European Footballer of the Year award twice and has won the World Cup, both as a player and as a manager.
Lionel Messi: Argentine professional footballer and the star player of Spanish club Barcelona, Lionel Messi is counted among the greatest soccer players of all time. Many even consider him to be the best soccer player ever. Messi’s short stature allows him greater agility, something that helps him move faster and control the ball better. Messi is known for his attacking style of play, quick reactions and finishing. He is also counted amongst the best dribblers in the history of soccer. In his career, Messi has scored 563 goals in Club football and 61 in international matches.
Pelé: Former Brazilian footballer Pelé is regarded by many as the greatest soccer player of all time. Pelé has been recognized with the title of World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS). Pelé was known for his superior dribbling skills, powerful & accurate shots and the ability to anticipate the movement of opponents on the field. Pelé showcased the best combination of varied skills such as speed, intelligence, stamina, athleticism and physical power. In his Club and international career, Pelé has scored more than 1000 goals. He is regarded as a national hero in Brazil.
Diego Maradona: Retired Argentine professional footballer and manager, Diego Maradona is considered by many to be the greatest football player of all time. Maradona was famous for his Number 10 Jersey, which in itself has become an icon. Maradona was famous for his dribbling skills, sharp reflexes, reaction time, ball control, passing and vision. His short physique allowed him to achieve faster maneuverability, which in turn helped him to penetrate the defense. Maradona has played four World Cups and his contribution helped Argentina win the 1986 World Cup. In his career, Maradona scored 312 goals in Club football and 34 in international matches.
David Beckham: Former English professional footballer, David Beckham was consistently ranked in the list of highest earning soccer players. He is widely popular for his ability to bend the balls to insane curves when taking free-kicks. He was also known for his superior crossing and passing ability. Beckham has featured in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players and was runner up in the Ballon d’Or. In his career, Beckham has scored 97 goals in Club football and 17 in international matches. He was the highest paid player in the world in 2013, having earned a staggering $50 million.
Ronaldo: Popularly referred to as “The Phenomenon”, former Brazilian professional footballer Ronaldo is counted amongst the greatest soccer players of all time. Ronaldo was known for his fast speed, ball control, acceleration, standalone striking ability, vision, and superior passing and crossing. His dribbling skills were so strong that he was able to singlehandedly penetrate the defense on many occasions. Ronaldo has been credited with using several tricks to beat defenders and goalkeepers, which were a true delight for his fans. In his career, Ronaldo scored 352 goals in Club football and 62 in international matches.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Widely recognized as the best soccer player of all time, Portuguese professional footballer Cristiano Ronaldo plays as a forward for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Portugal national team. He is a versatile attacker, known for his fast speed with the ball and on the field. With his superior dribbling skills, agility, acceleration and use of various tricks and feints, Cristiano Ronaldo could easily outmaneuver the opponents. He is also popular for his accurate penalty kicks and sharply curving free-kicks. In his career, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 573 goals in Club football and 81 in international matches.
Johan Cruyff: Three times winner of the Ballon d’Or, former Dutch professional football player and coach Johan Cruyff is regarded by many as one of the greatest soccer players of all time. Cruyff was a supporter of the “Total Football” style of play, wherein the positions of players is constantly replenished to retain the desired organization structure. Cruyff was known for his dribbling, vision, speed, acceleration, stamina, and technical abilities. He was also good at tactics and predicting the movement of opponents. In his career, Cruyff scored 368 goals in Club football and 33 in international matches.