The Most Famous


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This page contains a list of the greatest Soccer Players. The pantheon dataset contains 16,880 Soccer Players, 164 of which were born in Denmark. This makes Denmark the birth place of the 17th most number of Soccer Players behind United States and Croatia.

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 Peter Schmeichel

1. Peter Schmeichel (1963 - )

With an HPI of 62.81, Peter Schmeichel is the most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 59 different languages on wikipedia.

Peter Bolesław Schmeichel (Danish pronunciation: [ˈpʰe̝ˀtɐ ˈsmɑjˀkl̩]; born 18 November 1963) is a Danish former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He is best known for his most successful years at English club Manchester United, whom he captained to victory in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final to complete the Treble. He also won the UEFA Euro 1992 with his country Denmark. Born in Gladsaxe, Copenhagen, Schmeichel was famous for his intimidating physique – at 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in) tall and weighing close to 100 kg (15 st 10 lb) during his playing days – and wore specially made size XXXL football shirts. A fierce competitor, he was known for his loud, unstinting criticism of perceived mistakes by his defenders. Unusually for a goalkeeper, Schmeichel scored 11 goals during his career, including one for the national team. He is also the most capped player for the Denmark national team, with 129 games between 1987 and 2001. In addition to Euro 92, he played for his country at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and three additional European Championship tournaments. He captained the national team in 30 matches. He also represented Gladsaxe-Hero, Hvidovre, Brøndby, Sporting CP, Aston Villa and Manchester City in a career that lasted from 1981 until 2003 and yielded 24 trophies. Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time, he was voted the IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper in 1992 and 1993, and in 2000, the IFFHS also ranked Schmeichel among the top 10 goalkeepers of the 20th century. In 2001, Schmeichel won a public poll held by Reuters, in which the majority of the 200,000 participants voted him as the best goalkeeper ever, ahead of Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks. In 2003, Schmeichel was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his impact on the English game. In March 2004, he was named as one of the "125 greatest living footballers", at the FIFA 100 celebrations. Schmeichel's popularity in Britain would extend to television, as on the Manchester-based soap opera Coronation Street, he is the namesake of a Great Dane formerly owned by Chesney Brown. His son, Kasper, is also a professional goalkeeper, currently playing for Ligue 1 side OGC Nice and the Danish national team.

Photo of Allan Simonsen

2. Allan Simonsen (1952 - )

With an HPI of 60.91, Allan Simonsen is the 2nd most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.

Allan Rodenkam Simonsen (born 15 December 1952) is a Danish former footballer and manager. He most prominently played as a striker for German Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach, winning the 1975 and 1979 UEFA Cups, as well as for Barcelona in Spain, winning the 1982 Cup Winners' Cup. Simonsen is the only footballer to have scored in the European Cup, UEFA Cup, and Cup Winners' Cup finals. Simonsen was named 1977 European Footballer of the Year. For the Denmark national team, Simonsen was capped 55 times, scoring 20 goals. He represented Denmark at the 1972 Summer Olympics, 1984 European Championship and 1986 World Cup tournaments. He was voted into the Danish Football Hall of Fame in November 2008.

Photo of Richard Møller Nielsen

3. Richard Møller Nielsen (1937 - 2014)

With an HPI of 57.72, Richard Møller Nielsen is the 3rd most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.

Richard Møller Nielsen (19 August 1937 – 13 February 2014) was a Danish football player and manager. He coached the Denmark national football team that won the UEFA Euro 1992 tournament. In 1995, he was awarded a gold version of the Medal of Merit. He was the father of Tommy Møller Nielsen.

Photo of Poul Nielsen

4. Poul Nielsen (1891 - 1962)

With an HPI of 56.87, Poul Nielsen is the 4th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Niels Poul "Tist" Nielsen (25 December 1891 – 9 August 1962) was a Danish footballer who is the joint all-time best goalscorer for the Denmark national team with 52 goals in 38 matches. Nielsen won a silver medal with the national team at the 1912 Summer Olympics. He played his career as a striker for Kjøbenhavns Boldklub, with whom he won six Danish football championships. In Canada, he played for CNR Montréal, winning the Dominion of Canada Championship in 1929.

Photo of Preben Elkjær

5. Preben Elkjær (1957 - )

With an HPI of 55.93, Preben Elkjær is the 5th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Preben Elkjær Larsen (Danish pronunciation: [ˈelˌkʰeˀɐ̯]; born 11 September 1957) is a Danish former professional footballer who played as a striker. Amongst others, he played with Hellas Verona in Italy, helping the club to the only major title of its history, the 1985 Serie A. Additionally, Elkjær scored 38 goals for the Denmark national team in 11 years, being a leading figure for the Danish side under coach Sepp Piontek that played at the Euro 1984 and the 1986 World Cup (a first-ever appearance), often hailed as the golden generation of Danish football by their countrymen. Elkjær won the Bronze Ball award at the latter competition. Widely regarded as one of the best forwards of the 1980s, Elkjær finished second in the Ballon d'Or awards in 1985, having been placed third the previous year, and going on to finish fourth in 1986. In Verona he is still remembered fondly, having earned the persisting nickname "Il sindaco" (the mayor) during his stint for the club. To this day, at least a few hundred voters in the city continue to write his name on their ballots at the mayoral elections. Renowned for his goal-scoring abilities and persona, he also remains one of the most popular sports personalities in his native Denmark.

Photo of Søren Lerby

6. Søren Lerby (1958 - )

With an HPI of 53.03, Søren Lerby is the 6th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Søren Lerby (born 1 February 1958) is a Danish former football player, manager, and licensed agent. As a player, he spent most of his career in Dutch football, winning five Eredivisie championships with Ajax Amsterdam and two with PSV Eindhoven. With the latter club, he also won the 1988 European Cup. He won two Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich, and played one season for AS Monaco in France. He played 67 matches for the Denmark national football team from 1978 to 1989, and represented Denmark at the 1986 FIFA World Cup and two European Championship tournaments. Currently, he is the agent of Napoli winger Dries Mertens.

Photo of Christian Eriksen

7. Christian Eriksen (1992 - )

With an HPI of 52.69, Christian Eriksen is the 7th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 62 different languages.

Christian Dannemann Eriksen (born 14 February 1992) is a Danish professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Premier League club Manchester United and the Denmark national team. Eriksen is renowned for his vision, technique, passing, and free kick ability. Eriksen began his senior club career at age 18 in 2010, playing for Ajax, where he won three Eredivisie titles and the KNVB Cup. In 2013, Eriksen signed for Tottenham Hotspur in a transfer worth £11 million (€12.45 million), where he was twice named the club's Player of the Year, was voted into the 2017–18 PFA Team of the Year, and later also reached the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final. In 2020, Eriksen joined Inter Milan in a transfer worth €19.7 million (£16.9 million), and won a Serie A title prior to the mutual termination of his contract in 2021. Eriksen returned to the Premier League in 2022 with a move to Brentford. Eriksen made his senior international debut for Denmark in 2010 at age 18, and has since earned over 110 caps, including appearing in four major tournaments; he was also the youngest player at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Eriksen is his country's fifth highest all-time goalscorer, and was named Danish Football Player of the Year a record five times. During a UEFA Euro 2020 match on 12 June 2021, Eriksen collapsed on the pitch after suffering a cardiac arrest due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM); he was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation and was later fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, and returned to football eight months later, eventually playing with Manchester United.

Photo of Jon Dahl Tomasson

8. Jon Dahl Tomasson (1976 - )

With an HPI of 52.64, Jon Dahl Tomasson is the 8th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Jon Dahl Tomasson (Danish pronunciation: [ˈtsʰomæsʌn]; born 29 August 1976) is a Danish football manager and former player who is the current head coach of EFL Championship club Blackburn Rovers. A forward, his most notable run of football came in his first stint at Feyenoord, with whom he won the 2002 UEFA Cup, and Italian club AC Milan, with whom he won the UEFA Champions League in 2003 and reached the final in 2005. He also played top-flight football in England, Germany and Spain. He is the joint all-time top goalscorer for the Denmark national team with 52 goals in 112 games and was also honoured with the Danish Player of the Year award in both 2002 and 2004. He played at the UEFA European Championship in 2000 and 2004 and the FIFA World Cup in 2002 and 2010. After his playing career, Tomasson went into coaching, being both assistant and manager in the Netherlands, before becoming assistant manager in the Denmark national team under Åge Hareide. In 2020, Tomasson became the manager of Malmö FF and left two years later after winning the Swedish championship for two consecutive seasons. In June 2022 he signed a three-year deal at Blackburn Rovers.

Photo of Harald Nielsen

9. Harald Nielsen (1941 - 2015)

With an HPI of 52.51, Harald Nielsen is the 9th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Harald Ingemann Nielsen (26 October 1941 – 11 August 2015) was a Danish footballer who played as a forward. He played professionally for Italian club Bologna F.C. where he was the league top scorer (capocannoniere) in Bologna's 1964 Serie A championship winning season. Harald Nielsen played 14 games for the Denmark national team in 1959 and 1960, scoring 15 goals, and he was known as Guld-Harald (Gold-Harald). He was a football entrepreneur having continuously worked for the professionalization of both the Danish national team and the national league.

Photo of Henning Jensen

10. Henning Jensen (1949 - 2017)

With an HPI of 51.40, Henning Jensen is the 10th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Henning Jensen (17 August 1949 – 4 December 2017) was a Danish football player who played professionally for German club Borussia Mönchengladbach, Spanish club Real Madrid and Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam where he won the domestic league championship in each country. He scored nine goals in 21 games for the Denmark national football team from 1972 to 1980.

Pantheon has 183 people classified as soccer players born between 1884 and 2002. Of these 183, 169 (92.35%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Peter Schmeichel, Allan Simonsen, and Preben Elkjær. The most famous deceased soccer players include Richard Møller Nielsen, Poul Nielsen, and Harald Nielsen. As of April 2022, 19 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Søren Busk, Flemming Christensen, and Joakim Mæhle.

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 13 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.