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 63.32, René Higuita is the most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 49 different languages on wikipedia.
José René Higuita Zapata (Spanish pronunciation: [reˈne iˈɣita]; born 27 August 1966) is a Colombian former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He was nicknamed El Loco ("The Madman") for his high-risk 'sweeper-keeper' playing style and his flair for the dramatic. Higuita's style of play, which was first shown to a global audience during the 1990 FIFA World Cup, was pioneering in influencing goalkeepers to take more responsibility for situations farther from the goal.IFFHS ranked Higuita the 8th best South American keeper in history. He is also ranked as one of the 10 highest-scoring goalkeepers in history, with 41 goals overall.
With an HPI of 61.44, Carlos Valderrama is the 2nd most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 56 different languages.
Carlos Alberto Valderrama Palacio (Colombian Spanish: [ˈkaɾlos alˈβeɾto βaldeˈrama paˈlasjo]; born 2 September 1961), also known as El Pibe ("The Kid"), is a Colombian former professional footballer and sports commentator for Fútbol de Primera, who played as an attacking midfielder. A creative playmaker, he is regarded as one of the best Colombian footballers of all time, and by some as Colombia's greatest player ever. His distinctive hairstyle, as well as his precise passing and technical skills made him one of South America's most recognisable footballers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He won the South American Footballer of the Year award in 1987 and 1993, and in 1999, he was also named one of the top 100 players of the 20th century by World Soccer. In 2004, he was included in the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 "greatest living footballers" chosen by Pelé to celebrate the 100th anniversary of FIFA.Valderrama was a member of the Colombia national football team from 1985 until 1998. He represented Colombia in 111 full internationals and scored 11 times, making him the second-most capped player in the country's history, behind only David Ospina. He played a major role during the golden era of Colombian football in the 1990s, representing his national side in three FIFA World Cups and five Copa América tournaments. After spending most of his career playing club football in South America and Europe, towards the end of his career Valderrama played in Major League Soccer, joining the league in its first season. One of the most recognisable players in the league at the time of its inception, he helped popularise the league during the second half of the 1990s. To this day, he is an icon and is considered one of the most decorated players to ever play in MLS; in 2005, he was named to the MLS All-Time Best XI.
With an HPI of 56.30, James Rodríguez is the 3rd most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 78 different languages.
James David Rodríguez Rubio (born 12 July 1991) is a Colombian professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder or a winger for Super League Greece club Olympiacos and the Colombia national team. He has been praised in the past for his technique, vision and playmaking skills, and was often considered the successor to his compatriot Carlos Valderrama.Starting his career at Envigado, and then moving to Argentina side Banfield, James became well known in Europe during his time at Porto, winning several trophies and individual awards during his three years at the club. In 2014, James moved from AS Monaco to Real Madrid for a transfer fee of £63 million, which beat the one set by Radamel Falcao and made him the most expensive Colombian football player and one of the most expensive players at the time. In his debut season, he was named in the La Liga Team of the Season and won La Liga Best Midfielder. In 2017, he signed for German club Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal. In the summer of 2020 he signed for Premier League club Everton on a free transfer.James started his international career with the Colombia under-20 team, with which he won the 2011 Toulon Tournament. He then captained the U-20 team during the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Due to his performance in the tournament, he was regularly called into the senior squad by the age of 20. He played in the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup, winning the Golden Boot in 2014 and being included in the Cup's All Star Team. He also represented his nation at the 2015 Copa América, the Copa América Centenario in 2016, and the 2019 Copa América, winning a third-place medal in 2016.
With an HPI of 55.53, Andrés Escobar is the 4th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.
Andrés Escobar (Spanish pronunciation: [anˈdɾes eskoˈβaɾ salðari'aga]; 13 March 1967 – 2 July 1994) was a Colombian footballer who played as a defender. He played for Atlético Nacional, BSC Young Boys, and the Colombia national team. Nicknamed The Gentleman, he was known for his clean style of play and calmness on the pitch.On July 2, 1994, Escobar was murdered in the aftermath of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, reportedly as retaliation for having scored an own goal which contributed to the team's elimination from the tournament. His murder tarnished the image of the country internationally. Escobar himself had worked to promote a more positive image of Colombia, earning acclaim in the country.Escobar is still held in high regard by Colombian fans, and is especially mourned and remembered by Atlético Nacional's fans.
With an HPI of 54.96, Radamel Falcao is the 5th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.
Radamel Falcao García Zárate (born 10 February 1986) is a Colombian professional footballer who plays as a forward for La Liga club Rayo Vallecano and often captains the Colombia national team. Nicknamed "El Tigre" (Spanish for The Tiger), he is considered one of the greatest Colombian footballers of all time. Falcao began his professional career in the Colombian Second Division at the age of 13 at Lanceros Boyacá, before moving to the Argentine club River Plate, where he played with their youth academy from 2001 until 2005 and later won the 2007–08 Clausura tournament. In 2009, he joined Portuguese club Porto, where he won several trophies, including the UEFA Europa League and Primeira Liga double in 2011. In August 2011, Falcao moved to Spanish club Atlético Madrid for a club record €40 million. He was integral in the club's 2012 Europa League and Super Cup victories. Falcao was also prolific in La Liga during his time with Atlético, being the third-highest goalscorer in 2011–12 and 2012–13, both behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Widely regarded as one of the best strikers in the world, Falcao controversially signed for newly promoted Ligue 1 side Monaco in 2013 for a club record €60 million, despite interest from top European clubs. In the second half of his debut season, an ACL injury ruled him out for six months; he went on to spend the next two seasons on loan at Premier League clubs Manchester United and Chelsea. Rejoining Monaco in the summer of 2016, he regained his best form and led them to their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years. Falcao joined Turkish club Galatasaray in 2019, before returning to La Liga in 2021 with Rayo Vallecano. Falcao made his senior debut for Colombia in 2007, and has since earned over 100 caps and scored 35 goals, making him their all-time top scorer since breaking the previous record of 25 goals in June 2017. He represented his country at the 2011, 2015 and 2019 Copa América. Falcao missed the 2014 FIFA World Cup through injury, but made his World Cup debut at the 2018 tournament in Russia. Falcao is Porto's all-time top goalscorer in international club competitions, set the record for most goals (17) in a European campaign in 2011, is the first player to win consecutive Europa League titles with two teams (Porto in 2011 and Atlético in 2012), and is Monaco's highest goalscorer this century (83). He was named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI in 2012, finished in fifth place for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or, and was awarded the 2012 Globe Soccer Best Footballer. In November 2018, Falcao was honoured by the Atlético Madrid fans with a plaque outside the Metropolitano Stadium.
With an HPI of 51.43, Iván Córdoba is the 6th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.
Iván Ramiro Córdoba Sepúlveda (Spanish pronunciation: [iˈβaŋ ˈkoɾðoβa], born 11 August 1976 in Rionegro, Antioquia Department) is a retired Colombian footballer, who played as a defender. He began his career in Colombia with Deportivo Rionegro and Atlético Nacional, before moving to Argentine club San Lorenzo. In 2000, he joined Italian side Internazionale, where he spent most of his career, remaining with the club until his retirement in 2012. At international level, Córdoba played for the Colombia national team, and represented his nation at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup, and four editions of the Copa América, winning the tournament in 2001, where he scored the winning goal in the final. He was the vice-captain of Internazionale and has also served as captain for his country's national team. He is currently in charge as sporting director of Italian Serie B club Venezia.
With an HPI of 50.75, Faustino Asprilla is the 7th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.
Faustino Hernán Asprilla Hinestroza (born 10 November 1969) is a Colombian former professional footballer who most notably played for Parma, Newcastle United and the Colombia national team as a forward.
With an HPI of 49.76, Juan Cuadrado is the 8th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado Bello (born 26 May 1988) is a Colombian professional footballer who plays for Serie A club Juventus and the Colombia national team. He is known for his direct style of play, including his pace (both on and off the ball) as well as his dribbling skills. He started off in a central midfield role, acting as a defensive midfielder early in his career, also being used as a forward on occasion, before being moved into as a wider positions in which he now usually plays, often operating as a right-sided winger, attacking midfielder, full-back or wing-back.Having begun his career at Independiente Medellín, Cuadrado moved to Italy in 2009 to join Udinese. Used sparingly at the club, he was loaned to Lecce for the 2011–12 season, where despite relegation from Serie A, his performances earned a transfer to Fiorentina. In February 2015, he was signed by Chelsea, but after playing sparingly, was loaned to Juventus for consecutive seasons, where he won successive Serie A and Coppa Italia titles. He joined the club permanently in 2017, and added a third consecutive domestic double the following season, followed by a two more consecutive league titles and a Supercoppa Italiana over the next two seasons. Cuadrado made his senior international debut in 2010, and has since earned over 110 caps. He was part of the Colombian squads which took part at five editions of the Copa América (2011, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2021), reaching the quarter-finals on three occasions, and contributing to their third-place finishes in 2016 and 2021; Cuadrado also represented his nation at two editions of the FIFA World Cup, in 2014 and 2018.
With an HPI of 49.31, Faryd Mondragón is the 9th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.
Faryd Camilo Mondragón Alí (born 21 June 1971) is a Colombian former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. Since his debut in 1993, he has played over 50 times for the Colombian national team. He was named in the Colombian squads for the 1992 Olympics, two Copa América tournaments, two CONCACAF Gold Cups, and the World Cups of 1994, 1998 and 2014. On 24 June 2014, Mondragón made history by becoming the oldest player to play a FIFA World Cup match at the age of 43 years and 3 days, a record that was broken four years later by 45-year-old Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary.
With an HPI of 48.84, Reinaldo Rueda is the 10th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.
Reinaldo Rueda Rivera (born 16 April 1957) is a Colombian football coach. When he was the coach of the Colombia U-20 team, they finished 3rd at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship. He also led the Colombia U-17 team to 4th at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship. After an unfavorable start to the 2006 World Cup qualification phase (only 1 point after 5 games) the Colombian Football Federation made Rueda the coach of the senior team. Under him, the team improved, coming from near last to finish 6th, though failing to qualify. Then, he moved to Honduras and guided their national team to a place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Pantheon has 139 people classified as soccer players born between 1914 and 1999. Of these 139, 130 (93.53%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include René Higuita, Carlos Valderrama, and James Rodríguez. The most famous deceased soccer players include Andrés Escobar, Hernán Gaviria, and Efraín Sánchez. As of April 2022, 11 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Willington Ortiz, Edwin Congo, and Andrés Estrada.
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Which Soccer Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 8 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.