The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Brazilian Soccer Players of all time. This list of famous Brazilian 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 Brazilian Soccer Players.
With an HPI of 88.66, Pelé is the most famous Brazilian Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 118 different languages on wikipedia.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈɛtsõ (w)ɐˈɾɐ̃tʃiz du nɐsiˈmẽtu]; born 23 October 1940), known as Pelé ([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. During his playing days, Pelé was for a period the best-paid athlete in the world. In 1999, 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. That same year, Pelé 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. According to the IFFHS, Pelé is the most successful top division scorer in the sport with 541 goals in 560 games. His total of 1279 goals in 1363 games, which included friendlies, is 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. 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. 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.
With an HPI of 82.90, Garrincha is the 2nd most famous Brazilian Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 68 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 dribblers of all time, and by some, the greatest dribbler ever. Garrincha is extremely popular in Brazil. He is also regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. 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 Team's 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.
With an HPI of 77.04, Zico is the 3rd most famous Brazilian Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 71 different languages.
Arthur Antunes Coimbra (Portuguese pronunciation: [aʁˈtuʁ ɐ̃ˈtũnis koˈĩbɾɐ], born 3 March 1953 in Rio de Janeiro), better known as Zico ([ˈziku]), is a Brazilian coach and former footballer 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. Arguably the world's best player of the late 1970s and early 80s, he is regarded as one of the best playmakers and free kick specialists in history, able to bend the ball in all directions. According to 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. According to Pelé, considered one of the best players ever, "throughout the years, the one player that came closest to me was Zico".With 48 goals in 71 official appearances for Brazil, Zico is fifth highest goalscorer for his national team. He represented them 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 on 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 Asian Cup 2004, 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. On 16 September 2009, Zico was signed by Greek side Olympiacos for a two-year contract after the club's previous coach, Temuri Ketsbaia, was sacked. He was fired four months later, on 19 January 2010. On 29 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.He currently works as technical director at Kashima Antlers.
With an HPI of 76.68, Didi is the 4th most famous Brazilian Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.
Waldyr Pereira, better 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. 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. An elegant player, Didi is considered to be the best midfielder of his generation and one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, and was renowned for his range of passing, stamina and technique; he was nicknamed the "Ethiopian Prince" throughout his career. A dead-ball specialist, he became famous for inventing the folha seca (dry leaf) 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.
With an HPI of 75.90, Mário Zagallo is the 5th most famous Brazilian Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.
Mário Jorge Lobo Zagallo (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈmaɾju zaˈɡalu]; born 9 August 1931) is a Lebanese 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 one 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 four times. 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.
With an HPI of 75.58, Sócrates is the 6th most famous Brazilian Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 57 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 an attacking 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.
With an HPI of 75.40, Ronaldo is the 7th most famous Brazilian Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 100 different languages.
Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima (Brazilian Portuguese: [ʁoˈnawdu ˈlwis nɐˈzaɾju dʒi ˈɫĩmɐ]; born 18 September 1976), commonly known as Ronaldo, is a Brazilian business owner, president of La Liga club Real Valladolid, and a retired professional footballer who played as a striker. Popularly dubbed in Portuguese O Fenômeno ("The Phenomenon"), he is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time. As a multi-functional striker who brought a new dimension to the position, Ronaldo has been the influence for a generation of strikers that have followed. His individual accolades include being named FIFA World Player of the Year three times, and winning two Ballon d'Or awards. Ronaldo started his career at Cruzeiro and moved to PSV in 1994. He joined Barcelona in 1996 for a then world record transfer fee, and at 20 years old he was named the 1996 FIFA World Player of the Year, making him the youngest recipient of the award. In 1997, Inter Milan broke the world record fee to sign Ronaldo, making him the first player since Diego Maradona to break the world transfer record twice. At 21 he received the 1997 Ballon d'Or, and he remains the youngest recipient of the award. By the age of 23, Ronaldo had scored over 200 goals for club and country, however after a series of knee injuries and recuperation he was inactive for almost three years. Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2002 and won the 2002–03 La Liga title. He had spells at A.C. Milan and Corinthians before retiring in 2011 having suffered further injuries. Ronaldo played for Brazil in 98 matches, scoring 62 goals, and is the third-highest goalscorer for his national team. At age 17, he was the youngest member of the Brazilian squad that won the 1994 FIFA World Cup. At the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Ronaldo received the Golden Ball for player of the tournament, helping Brazil reach the final where he suffered a convulsive fit hours before kick-off. He won the 2002 FIFA World Cup where he starred in a front three with Ronaldinho and Rivaldo. Ronaldo scored twice in the final, and received the Golden Boot as the tournament's top goalscorer. At the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Ronaldo scored his 15th FIFA World Cup goal, a FIFA World Cup record at the time. He also won the 1997 Copa América, where he was player of the tournament, and the 1999 Copa América, where he was top goalscorer. One of the most marketable sportsmen in the world during his playing career, the first Nike Mercurial boots–R9–were commissioned for Ronaldo in 1998. He was named in the FIFA 100 list of the greatest living players compiled in 2004 by Pelé, and was inducted into the Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame, Italian Football Hall of Fame, Inter Milan Hall of Fame and Real Madrid Hall of Fame. In retirement from sport, Ronaldo has continued his work as a United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador, a position to which he was appointed in 2000. He served as an ambassador for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Ronaldo became the majority owner of Real Valladolid in September 2018, after buying 51% of the club's shares.
With an HPI of 75.32, Vavá is the 8th most famous Brazilian Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.
Edvaldo Jizídio 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.
With an HPI of 75.14, Rivellino is the 9th most famous Brazilian Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 57 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.
With an HPI of 74.99, Carlos Alberto Torres is the 10th most famous Brazilian Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 49 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.
Pantheon has 1,456 people classified as soccer players born between 1874 and 2002. Of these 1,456, 1,320 (90.66%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Pelé, Zico, and Mário Zagallo. The most famous deceased soccer players include Garrincha, Didi, and Sócrates. As of October 2020, 272 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Índio, Bigode, and Danilo Alvim.
1940 - Present
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1933 - 1983
1928 - 2001
1954 - 2011
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1925 - 2013
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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.