The Most Famous

SOCCER PLAYERS from Brazil

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This page contains a list of the greatest Soccer Players. The pantheon dataset contains 16,880 Soccer Players, 1,448 of which were born in Brazil. This makes Brazil the birth place of the 2nd most number of Soccer Players.

Top 10

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.

Photo of Pelé

1. Pelé (1940 - )

With an HPI of 85.54, Pelé is the most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 123 different languages on wikipedia.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈɛtsõ (w)ɐˈɾɐ̃tʃiz du nɐsiˈmẽtu]; born 23 October 1940), known as Pelé (Portuguese pronunciation: [peˈlɛ]), is a Brazilian former professional footballer who played as a forward. Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, and labelled "the greatest" by FIFA, he was among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century. In 1999, he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. In 2000, Pelé was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century. His 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, which includes friendlies, is recognised as a Guinness World Record.Pelé began playing for Santos at age 15 and the Brazil national team at 16. During his international career, he won three FIFA World Cups: 1958, 1962 and 1970, the only player to do so. Pelé is the all-time leading goalscorer for Brazil with 77 goals in 92 games. At club level he is Santos' all-time top goalscorer with 643 goals from 659 games. In a golden era for Santos, he led the club to the 1962 and 1963 Copa Libertadores, and to the 1962 and 1963 Intercontinental Cup. Credited with connecting the phrase "The Beautiful Game" with football, Pelé's "electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals" made him a star around the world, and his teams toured internationally in order to take full advantage of his popularity. During his playing days, Pelé was for a period the best-paid athlete in the world. Since retiring in 1977, Pelé has been a worldwide ambassador for football and has made many acting and commercial ventures. In 2010, he was named the Honorary President of the New York Cosmos. Averaging almost a goal per game throughout his career, Pelé was adept at striking the ball with either foot in addition to anticipating his opponents' movements on the field. While predominantly a striker, he could also drop deep and take on a playmaking role, providing assists with his vision and passing ability, and he would also use his dribbling skills to go past opponents. In Brazil, he is hailed as a national hero for his accomplishments in football and for his outspoken support of policies that improve the social conditions of the poor. His emergence at the 1958 World Cup where he became the first black global sporting star was a source of inspiration. Throughout his career and in his retirement, Pelé received several individual and team awards for his performance in the field, his record-breaking achievements, and legacy in the sport.

Photo of Garrincha

2. Garrincha (1933 - 1983)

With an HPI of 76.21, Garrincha is the 2nd most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 70 different languages.

Manuel Francisco dos Santos (28 October 1933 – 20 January 1983), nicknamed Mané Garrincha, best known as simply Garrincha (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɡaˈʁĩʃɐ], "little bird"), was a Brazilian professional footballer who played as a right winger. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, and by some, the greatest dribbler ever.Garrincha played a vital role in Brazil's 1958 and 1962 World Cup victories. In 1962, when Pelé got injured, Garrincha led Brazil to a World Cup victory with a dominating performance throughout the tournament. He also became the first player to win Golden Ball (Player of the tournament), Golden Boot (Leading Goalscorer) and the World Cup in the same tournament. He was also named in the World Cup All-Star Teams of both 1958 World Cup and 1962 World Cup. In 1994, he was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team. Brazil never lost a match while fielding both Garrincha and Pelé. In 1999, he came seventh in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote. He is a member of the World Team of the 20th Century, and was inducted into the Brazilian Football Hall of Fame. Due to his immense popularity in Brazil, he was also called Alegria do Povo (People's Joy) and Anjo de Pernas Tortas (Bent-Legged Angel).At club level, Garrincha played the majority of his professional career for the Brazilian team Botafogo. In the Maracanã Stadium, the home team room is known as "Garrincha". In the capital Brasília, the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha is named after him. He is credited for inspiring the first bullfighting chants of olé to be used at football grounds.

Photo of Zico

3. Zico (1953 - )

With an HPI of 70.34, Zico is the 3rd most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 69 different languages.

Arthur Antunes Coimbra (Portuguese pronunciation: [aʁˈtuʁ ɐ̃ˈtũnis koˈĩbɾɐ], born 3 March 1953), better known as Zico ([ˈziku]), is a Brazilian football coach and former player who played as an attacking midfielder. Often called the "White Pelé", he was a creative playmaker, with excellent technical skills, vision and an eye for goal, who is considered one of the most clinical finishers and best passers ever, as well as one of the greatest players of all time. He is also widely regarded as the greatest Brazilian to never win the World Cup. One of the world's best players of the late 1970s and early 1980s, he is regarded as one of the best playmakers and free kick specialists in history, able to bend the ball in all directions. As stated on goal.com, Zico is the player that scored the most goals from direct free kicks, with 101 goals.In 1999, Zico came eighth in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote, and in 2004 was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. As stated by Pelé himself, considered one of the greatest players of all time, "throughout the years, the one player that came closest to me was Zico".With 48 goals in 71 official appearances for Brazil, Zico is the fifth highest goalscorer for his national team. He represented Brazil in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups. They did not win any of those tournaments, even though the 1982 squad is considered one of the greatest Brazilian national squads ever. Zico is often considered one of the best players in football history not to have been a member of a World Cup winning squad. He was chosen as the 1981 and 1983 Player of the Year. Zico has coached the Japanese national team, appearing in the 2006 FIFA World Cup and winning the 2004 Asian Cup, and Fenerbahçe, who were a quarter-finalist in 2007–08 in the Champions League under his command. He was announced as the head coach of CSKA Moscow in January 2009. In September 2009, Zico was signed by Greek side Olympiacos for a two-year contract after the club's previous coach, Temuri Ketsbaia, was dismissed. He was fired four months later, in January 2010. In August 2011, Zico was appointed as coach of Iraq to lead them in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification. He resigned on 29 November 2012.Zico works as technical director at Kashima Antlers.

Photo of Rivellino

4. Rivellino (1946 - )

With an HPI of 68.99, Rivellino is the 4th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 60 different languages.

Roberto Rivellino (also Rivelino, Brazilian Portuguese: [ʁoˈbɛʁtu ʁiveˈlĩnu]; Italian: [roˈbɛrto rivelˈlino]; born 1 January 1946) is a Brazilian football pundit and retired footballer. He was one of the stars of Brazil's 1970 FIFA World Cup winning team. Rivellino currently works as a pundit for Brazilian TV Cultura.The son of Italian immigrants from Macchiagodena (Isernia), he was famous for his large moustache, bending free kicks, long range shooting, accurate long passing, vision, close ball control and dribbling skills. He also perfected a football move called the "flip flap", famously copied by Romário, Mágico González, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo in recent years. A former attacking midfielder, he is widely regarded as one of the most graceful football players ever, and one of the greatest players of all time. With the close control, feints and ability with his left foot, Diego Maradona named Rivellino among his greatest inspirations growing up. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.

Photo of Mário Zagallo

5. Mário Zagallo (1931 - )

With an HPI of 68.90, Mário Zagallo is the 5th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Mário Jorge Lobo Zagallo (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈmaɾju zaˈɡalu]; born 9 August 1931) is a Brazilian former professional football player and manager, who played as a forward. He holds the record for World Cup titles in general with four titles in total. He was the first person to win the FIFA World Cup as both a manager and as a player, winning the competition in 1958 and 1962 as a player, in 1970 as manager, and in 1994 as assistant manager. Zagallo also coached Brazil in 1974 (finishing fourth) and in 1998 (finishing as runners-up) and was a technical assistant in 2006. He is the first of three men, along with Germany's Franz Beckenbauer and France's Didier Deschamps to have won the World Cup as a player and as a manager and the only one that has done it more than twice. In 1992, Zagallo received the FIFA Order of Merit, the highest honour awarded by FIFA, for his contributions to football. He was named the 9th Greatest Manager of All Time by World Soccer Magazine in 2013.

Photo of Sócrates

6. Sócrates (1954 - 2011)

With an HPI of 68.34, Sócrates is the 6th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.

Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, (19 February 1954 – 4 December 2011), simply known as Sócrates, was a Brazilian footballer who played as a midfielder. His medical degree and his political awareness, combined with style and quality of his play, earned him the nickname "Doctor Socrates". Easily recognizable for his beard and headband, Sócrates became the "symbol of cool for a whole generation of football supporters". He is considered to be one of the greatest midfielders of his generation. In 1983, he was named South American Footballer of the Year. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.Socrates played for Brazil for seven years, scoring 22 goals and representing the nation in two World Cups. He captained the team in the 1982 FIFA World Cup; playing in midfield alongside Zico, Falcão, Toninho Cerezo and Éder, considered one of the greatest Brazilian national teams ever. He also appeared in the 1979 and 1983 Copa América. At club level, Sócrates played for Botafogo-SP before joining Corinthians in 1978. He moved to Italy to play for Fiorentina, returning to Brazil in 1985 to end his career.

Photo of Didi

7. Didi (1928 - 2001)

With an HPI of 68.29, Didi is the 7th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.

Waldyr Pereira, also known as Didi (Portuguese pronunciation: [dʒiˈdʒi]; 8 October 1928 – 12 May 2001), was a Brazilian footballer who played as a midfielder or as a forward and is considered one of the best football players of all time. He played in three FIFA World Cups (1954, 1958, and 1962), winning the latter two and was awarded the Golden Ball, given to the tournament's best player, for his performance at the 1958 competition. Considered as an elegant and technical player, Didi was renowned for his range of passing, stamina and technique. He also was a free-kick specialist, being famous for inventing the folha seca (dry leaf) dead ball free kicks, notably used by modern-day players such as Juninho and Cristiano Ronaldo, where the ball would swerve downward unexpectedly at a point resulting in a goal.During his career, he was part of Fluminense FC between the end of the 1940s to the mid-1950s and one of the main players of the iconic squad of Botafogo FR in the early 1960s with other world champions such as Garrincha, Nilton Santos, Zagallo and Amarildo.

Photo of Carlos Alberto Torres

8. Carlos Alberto Torres (1944 - 2016)

With an HPI of 68.24, Carlos Alberto Torres is the 8th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.

Carlos Alberto "Capita" Torres (17 July 1944 – 25 October 2016), also known as "O Capitão do Tri", was a Brazilian football player and manager who played as an attacking right-sided full-back or wing-back. A technically gifted defender with good ball skills and defensive capabilities, he is widely regarded as one of the best defenders of all time. He also stood out for his leadership, and was an excellent penalty taker. Nicknamed O Capitão, he captained the Brazil national team to victory in the 1970 World Cup, scoring the fourth goal in the final, considered one of the greatest goals in the history of the tournament.Carlos Alberto was a member of the World Team of the 20th Century, and in 2004 was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. He was an inductee to the Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame, and was a member of the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame. In January 2013, Carlos Alberto was named one of the six Ambassadors of 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, others being Ronaldo, Bebeto, Mário Zagallo, Amarildo and Marta.

Photo of Vavá

9. Vavá (1934 - 2002)

With an HPI of 67.98, Vavá is the 9th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Edvaldo Izidio Neto (12 November 1934 – 19 January 2002), commonly known as Vavá, was a Brazilian footballer who is widely considered one of the best strikers of his generation. His nickname was "Peito de Aço" (Steel Chest). He played as a main striker (or centre forward) for Sport Club do Recife, C.R. Vasco da Gama, S.E. Palmeiras and the Brazil national football team.

Photo of Ronaldinho

10. Ronaldinho (1980 - )

With an HPI of 67.66, Ronaldinho is the 10th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 91 different languages.

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born 21 March 1980), commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho (Brazilian Portuguese: [ʁonawˈdʒĩɲu gaˈuʃu]) or simply Ronaldinho, is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who played mostly as an attacking midfielder, but was also deployed as a winger. Considered one of the best and most talented players of all time, Ronaldinho won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and a Ballon d'Or. A global icon of the sport and an exponent of the "Joga Bonito" style of play, he was renowned for his technical skills, creativity, dribbling ability and accuracy from free-kicks, his use of tricks, feints, no-look passes and overhead kicks, as well as his ability to score and create goals, all prominent characteristics of his early-age background playing futsal. Ronaldinho made his career debut for Grêmio, in 1998. At age 20, he moved to Paris Saint-Germain in France before signing for Barcelona in 2003. In his second season with Barcelona, he won his first FIFA World Player of the Year award as Barcelona won the 2004–05 La Liga title. The season that followed is considered one of the best in his career as he was integral in Barcelona winning the 2005–06 UEFA Champions League, their first in fourteen years, and another La Liga title, giving Ronaldinho his first career double, receiving the 2005 Ballon d'Or and his second FIFA World Player of the Year in the process. After scoring two spectacular solo goals in the first 2005–06 El Clásico, Ronaldinho became the second Barcelona player, after Diego Maradona in 1983, to receive a standing ovation from Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabéu. Following a second-place La Liga finish to Real Madrid in the 2006–07 season and an injury-plagued 2007–08 season, Ronaldinho suffered a decline in his performances—often put down to a decrease in dedication and focus having achieved so much in the sport—and departed Barcelona to join AC Milan, where he won the 2010–11 Serie A. He returned to Brazil to play for Flamengo in 2011 and Atlético Mineiro a year later where he won the 2013 Copa Libertadores, before moving to Mexico to play for Querétaro and then back to Brazil to play for Fluminense in 2015. Ronaldinho accumulated numerous other individual awards in his career: he was included in the UEFA Team of the Year and the FIFA World XI three times each, and was named UEFA Club Footballer of the Year for the 2005–06 season and South American Footballer of the Year in 2013; in 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. In his international career with Brazil, Ronaldinho earned 97 caps and scored 33 goals and represented his country in two FIFA World Cups. After debuting with the Seleção by winning the 1999 Copa América, he was an integral part of the 2002 FIFA World Cup-winning team, starring alongside Ronaldo and Rivaldo in an attacking trio, and was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team. As captain, he led his team to the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup title and was named man of the match in the final. He also captained the Brazil Olympic team to a bronze medal in men's football at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Pantheon has 1,520 people classified as soccer players born between 8 and 2002. Of these 1,520, 1,370 (90.13%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Pelé, Zico, and Rivellino. The most famous deceased soccer players include Garrincha, Sócrates, and Didi. As of April 2022, 72 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Dondinho, Amílcar Barbuy, and Ricardo Ferretti.

Living Soccer Players

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Deceased Soccer Players

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Newly Added Soccer Players (2022)

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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.