The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Soccer Players of all time. This list of famous Soccer Players is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Soccer Players.
With an HPI of 77.68, Diego Maradona is the most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 135 different languages on wikipedia.
Diego Armando Maradona (Spanish: [ˈdjeɣo maɾaˈðona]; 30 October 1960 – 25 November 2020) was an Argentine professional football player and manager. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, he was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award. Maradona's vision, passing, ball control, and dribbling skills were combined with his small stature, which gave him a low centre of gravity allowing him to manoeuvre better than most other players. His presence and leadership on the field had a great effect on his team's general performance, while he would often be singled out by the opposition. In addition to his creative abilities, he possessed an eye for goal and was known to be a free kick specialist. A precocious talent, Maradona was given the nickname "El Pibe de Oro" ("The Golden Boy"), a name that stuck with him throughout his career. He also had a troubled off-field life and was banned in both 1991 and 1994 for abusing drugs.An advanced playmaker who operated in the classic number 10 position, Maradona was the first player to set the world record transfer fee twice: in 1982 when he transferred to Barcelona for £5 million, and in 1984 when he moved to Napoli for a fee of £6.9 million. He played for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla, and Newell's Old Boys during his club career, and is most famous for his time at Napoli where he won numerous accolades. In his international career with Argentina, he earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals. Maradona played in four FIFA World Cups, including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where he captained Argentina and led them to victory over West Germany in the final, and won the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player. In the 1986 World Cup quarter final, he scored both goals in a 2–1 victory over England that entered football history for two different reasons. The first goal was an unpenalized handling foul known as the "Hand of God", while the second goal followed a 60 m (66 yd) dribble past five England players, voted "Goal of the Century" by FIFA.com voters in 2002.Maradona became the coach of Argentina's national football team in November 2008. He was in charge of the team at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa before leaving at the end of the tournament. He then coached Dubai-based club Al Wasl in the UAE Pro-League for the 2011–12 season. In 2017, Maradona became the coach of Fujairah before leaving at the end of the season. In May 2018, Maradona was announced as the new chairman of Belarusian club Dynamo Brest. He arrived in Brest and was presented by the club to start his duties in July. From September 2018 to June 2019, Maradona was coach of Mexican club Dorados. He was the coach of Argentine Primera División club Gimnasia de La Plata from September 2019 until his death in November 2020.
With an HPI of 75.85, Alfredo Di Stéfano is the 2nd most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 73 different languages.
Alfredo Stéfano Di Stéfano Laulhé (Spanish pronunciation: [alˈfɾeðo ði esˈtefano]; 4 July 1926 – 7 July 2014) was an Argentine-born professional footballer and coach who played as a forward, regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. Nicknamed "Saeta rubia" ("Blond Arrow"), he is best known for his achievements with Real Madrid, where he was instrumental in the club's domination of the European Cup and La Liga during the 1950s. Along with Francisco Gento and José María Zárraga, he was one of only three players to play a part in all five victories, scoring goals in each of the five finals. Di Stéfano played international football mostly for Spain after moving to Madrid, but he also played for Argentina and Colombia. Di Stéfano began his career at Argentina's River Plate aged 17, in 1943. For the 1946 season he was loaned to Club Atlético Huracán, but he returned to River in 1947. Due to a footballers' strike in Argentina in 1949, Di Stéfano went to play for Millonarios of Bogotá in the Colombian league. He won six league titles during the first 12 years of his career in Argentina and Colombia. Following his signing by Real Madrid he was an integral part of one of the most successful teams of all time. He scored 216 league goals in 282 games for Real (then a club record, since surpassed by Raúl, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema), striking up a successful partnership with Ferenc Puskás. Di Stéfano's 49 goals in 58 matches was the all-time highest tally in the European Cup. The record has since been surpassed by several players, including the aforementioned Real Madrid trio. Di Stéfano scored in five consecutive European Cup finals for Real Madrid between 1956 and 1960, including a hat-trick in the last. Perhaps, the highlight of his time with the club was their 7–3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 final at Hampden Park, a game many consider to be the finest exhibition of club football ever witnessed in Europe. He moved to Espanyol in 1964 and played there until retiring at the age of 40.Di Stéfano was awarded the Ballon d'Or for the European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959. He is currently the sixth highest scorer in the history of Spain's top division, and Real Madrid's third highest league goalscorer of all time. He is Madrid's leading goalscorer in the history of El Clásico, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Spain by the Royal Spanish Football Federation as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years. He was voted fourth, behind Pelé, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruyff, in a vote organized by France Football magazine which consulted their former Ballon d'Or winners to elect the Football Player of the Century. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players (in September 2009, he said Di Stéfano was the best player "ever"). In 2008 Di Stéfano was honoured by both UEFA and Real Madrid with a special Presidents' award issued by FIFA at a ceremony in Madrid, where a statue was also unveiled. Then UEFA President Michel Platini called Di Stéfano "a great amongst the greats" while contemporaries Eusébio and Just Fontaine suggested that he was "the most complete footballer in the history of the game".
With an HPI of 69.60, Lionel Messi is the 3rd most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 149 different languages.
Lionel Andrés Messi (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾes ˈmesi] (listen); born 24 June 1987), also known as Leo Messi, is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and captains the Argentina national team. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Messi has won a record seven Ballon d'Or awards, a record six European Golden Shoes, and in 2020 was named to the Ballon d'Or Dream Team. Until leaving the club in 2021, he had spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he won a club-record 35 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles and four UEFA Champions Leagues. A prolific goalscorer and creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most goals in La Liga (474), a La Liga and European league season (50), most hat-tricks in La Liga (36) and the UEFA Champions League (8), and most assists in La Liga (192), a La Liga season (21) and the Copa América (17). He also holds the record for most international goals by a South American male (88). Messi has scored over 750 senior career goals for club and country, and has the most goals by a player for a single club. Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi relocated to Spain to join Barcelona at the age of 13, for whom he made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004. He established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, and in his first uninterrupted season in 2008–09 he helped Barcelona achieve the first treble in Spanish football; that year, aged 22, Messi won his first Ballon d'Or. Three successful seasons followed, with Messi winning four consecutive Ballons d'Or, making him the first player to win the award four times and in a row. During the 2011–12 season, he set the La Liga and European records for most goals scored in a single season, while establishing himself as Barcelona's all-time top scorer. The following two seasons, Messi finished second for the Ballon d'Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo (his perceived career rival), before regaining his best form during the 2014–15 campaign, becoming the all-time top scorer in La Liga and leading Barcelona to a historic second treble, after which he was awarded a fifth Ballon d'Or in 2015. Messi assumed captaincy of Barcelona in 2018, and in 2019 he won a record sixth Ballon d'Or. Out of contract, he signed for Paris Saint-Germain in August 2021. An Argentine international, Messi holds the national record for appearances and is also the country's all-time leading goalscorer. At youth level, he won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, finishing the tournament with both the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe, and an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. His style of play as a diminutive, left-footed dribbler drew comparisons with his compatriot Diego Maradona, who described Messi as his successor. After his senior debut in August 2005, Messi became the youngest Argentine to play and score in a FIFA World Cup in 2006, and reached the final of the 2007 Copa América, where he was named young player of the tournament. As the squad's captain from August 2011, he led Argentina to three consecutive finals: the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for which he won the Golden Ball, and the 2015 and 2016 Copa América, winning the Golden Ball in the 2015 edition. After announcing his international retirement in 2016, he reversed his decision and led his country to qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, a third-place finish at the 2019 Copa América, and won the 2021 Copa América, while winning the Golden Ball and Golden Boot award for the latter. This achievement would see him receive a record seventh Ballon d'Or in 2021. Messi has endorsed sportswear company Adidas since 2006. According to France Football, he was the world's highest-paid footballer for five years out of six between 2009 and 2014, and was ranked the world's highest-paid athlete by Forbes in 2019 and 2022. Messi was among Time's 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 and 2012. In February 2020, he was awarded the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, thus becoming the first footballer and the first team sport athlete to win the award. Later that year, Messi became the second footballer (and second team-sport athlete) to surpass $1 billion in career earnings.
With an HPI of 66.01, Omar Sívori is the 4th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.
Enrique Omar Sívori (Spanish: [enˈrike oˈmaɾ ˈsiβoɾi], Italian: [ˈɔːmar ˈsiːvori]; 2 October 1935 – 17 February 2005) was an Italian-Argentine football player and manager who played as a forward. At club level, he is known for his successful time with Italian side Juventus during the late 1950s and early 1960s, where he won three Serie A titles among other trophies; he also played for River Plate in Argentina and Napoli in Italy. He made his international debut for Argentina, winning the 1957 South American Championship. Later in his career, he represented Italy and took part in some of the 1962 World Cup. After his retirement as player, he coached several teams in Argentina. Regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation and as one of the greatest football players of all time, Sívori was known for his outstanding skill, speed, goalscoring ability, technique, creativity, and his footballing talent was widely acclaimed. He won the South American Championship Best Player award in 1957 and the coveted European Footballer of the Year award in 1961. Sivori scored 432 goals in his career, including friendlies.
With an HPI of 64.16, Mario Kempes is the 5th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.
Mario Alberto Kempes Chiodi (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmaɾjo alˈβeɾto ˈkempes ˈtʃjoði]; born 15 July 1954) is an Argentine former professional footballer who played as a striker/center midfielder. His father, Mario, also a footballer, inspired him to play from a young age. At the age of seven he began playing with a junior team and at fourteen, he joined the Talleres reserves. A prolific goalscorer, at club level he is best known for playing for Valencia, finishing as La Liga's top goalscorer twice, and amassing 116 goals in 184 league games for the club. At international level, Kempes was the focal point of Argentina's 1978 World Cup win where he scored twice in the final, and received the Golden Boot as top goalscorer. He also won the Golden Ball for the player of the tournament, making him one of only three players to have won all three awards at a single World Cup, along with Garrincha in 1962, and Paolo Rossi in 1982. Kempes won South American Footballer of the Year, Onze d'Or European footballer of the Year, and World Cup Golden Ball in 1978. In 2004, he was named as one of the Top 125 greatest living footballers as part of FIFA's 100th anniversary celebration. Kempes was nicknamed El Toro and El Matador.
With an HPI of 64.01, Gabriel Batistuta is the 6th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.
Gabriel Omar Batistuta (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡaˈβɾjel oˈmaɾ βatisˈtuta]; born 1 February 1969) is an Argentine former professional footballer. During his playing career, Batistuta was nicknamed Batigol ([batiˈɣol]) as well as El Ángel Gabriel ([el ˌaŋxel ɣaˈβɾjel]; Spanish for Angel Gabriel). Regarded as one of the greatest strikers of all time, noted in particular for powerful strikes from volleys or from distance while on the run, in 1999, Batistuta placed third for the FIFA World Player of the Year award. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.After beginning his career in Argentina in 1988 with Newell's Old Boys, followed by River Plate and Boca Juniors where he won titles, the prolific striker played most of his club football with Serie A club Fiorentina in Italy; he is their all-time top scorer in Serie A with 151 goals. When Fiorentina was relegated to Serie B in 1993, Batistuta stayed with the club and helped them return to the top-flight league a year later. He became an icon in Florence; the Fiorentina fans erected a life-size bronze statue of him in 1996, in recognition of his performances for the club. Despite winning the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana with the club in 1996, he never won the Serie A title with Fiorentina, but when he moved to Roma in 2000 for €36 million – the highest fee ever paid for a player over the age of 30 until Cristiano Ronaldo moved from Real Madrid to Juventus in 2018– he won the 2000–01 Serie A title. After a brief loan spell with Inter Milan in 2003, he played his last two seasons in Qatar with Al-Arabi before he retired in 2005.At international level, Batistuta was Argentina's all-time leading goalscorer with 54 goals in 77 official matches, a record he held until 21 June 2016, when he was surpassed by Lionel Messi. He participated in three FIFA World Cups, scoring 10 goals, making him Argentina's all-time top scorer in the competition, and the joint eighth-highest World Cup goalscorer of all time. Batistuta is the only player in football history to score two hat-tricks in different World Cups. With the Argentina national team he won two consecutive Copa América titles (1991 and 1993), the 1993 CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions, and the 1992 FIFA Confederations Cup.
With an HPI of 63.59, Guillermo Stábile is the 7th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.
Guillermo Stábile (17 January 1905 – 26 December 1966) was an Argentine professional football player and manager who played as a centre forward. At club level, Stábile won two national championships with Huracán and played in Italy and France. He was the top scorer of 1930 World Cup, the inaugural iteration of the tournament. As manager, he led Argentina to victory at six South American Championships and Racing Club to three league titles.
With an HPI of 63.42, Helenio Herrera is the 8th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.
Helenio Herrera Gavilán (Spanish pronunciation: [eˈlenjo eˈreɾa ɣaβiˈlan]; 10 April 1910 – 9 November 1997) was an Argentine, naturalized French, football player and manager. He is best remembered for his success with the Inter Milan team known as Grande Inter in the 1960s. During his managerial career, Herrera won four La Liga titles in Spain (with Atlético Madrid and Barcelona) and three Serie A titles in Italy with Inter. He also guided Inter to European glory, winning two consecutive European Cups, among several other honours. He is regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time.Herrera was arguably the first manager to collect credit for his teams' performances, in the process becoming a superstar in the world of football. Up to that time, managers were more marginal figures in a team. All teams throughout Europe were known for their headline-grabbing individual players, e.g. Di Stéfano's Real Madrid, whereas Inter during the 1960s is still referred to as Herrera's Inter.
With an HPI of 62.70, César Luis Menotti is the 9th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 40 different languages.
César Luis Menotti (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsesaɾ ˈlwis meˈnoti]; born 5 November 1938), known as El Flaco ("Slim"), is an Argentine former football manager and player who won the 1978 FIFA World Cup as the head coach of the Argentina national team. During his playing days, he played as a striker, most notably for Argentine clubs Rosario Central and Boca Juniors.
With an HPI of 61.85, Daniel Passarella is the 10th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.
Daniel Alberto Passarella (born 25 May 1953) is an Argentine former professional footballer who played as a centre back, and former manager of the Argentina and Uruguay national football teams. He was captain of the Argentina team that won the 1978 World Cup. He was president of the River Plate sports club for four years after winning the elections by a very close margin in December 2009. Considered one of the greatest South American defenders of all time, Passarella was also a proficient goalscorer; at one point he was football's top scoring defender, with 134 goals in 451 matches, a record subsequently broken by Dutch defender Ronald Koeman. In 2004, Passarella was named one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at a FIFA Awards Ceremony. In 2007, The Times placed him at number 36 in their list of the 50 hardest footballers in history. In 2017 he has been included in the FourFourTwo list of the 100 all-time greatest players, at the 56th position.
Pantheon has 580 people classified as soccer players born between 1885 and 2001. Of these 580, 469 (80.86%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Lionel Messi, Mario Kempes, and Gabriel Batistuta. The most famous deceased soccer players include Diego Maradona, Alfredo Di Stéfano, and Omar Sívori. As of April 2022, 58 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Antonio Sastre, Miguel Ángel Russo, and Félix Loustau.
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Which Soccer Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.