The Most Famous

SOCCER PLAYERS from France

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This page contains a list of the greatest French Soccer Players. The pantheon dataset contains 16,923 Soccer Players, 713 of which were born in France. This makes France the birth place of the 5th most number of Soccer Players behind United Kingdom and Spain.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary French Soccer Players of all time. This list of famous French 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 French Soccer Players.

Photo of Zinedine Zidane

1. Zinedine Zidane (1972 - )

With an HPI of 78.66, Zinedine Zidane is the most famous French Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 110 different languages on wikipedia.

Zinedine Yazid Zidane (born 23 June 1972), popularly known as Zizou, is a French former professional football player who played as an attacking midfielder. He most recently coached Real Madrid and is one of the most successful coaches in the world. Also widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Zidane was an elite playmaker renowned for his elegance, vision, passing, ball control, and technique. He received many individual accolades as a player, including being named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1998, 2000 and 2003, and winning the 1998 Ballon d'Or. Zidane started his career at Cannes before establishing himself as one of the best players in the French Division 1 at Bordeaux. In 1996, he moved to Juventus where he won trophies including two Serie A titles. He moved to Real Madrid for a world record fee at the time of €77.5 million in 2001, which remained unmatched for the next eight years. In Spain, Zidane won several trophies, including a La Liga title and the UEFA Champions League. In the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final, he scored a left-foot volleyed winner which is considered to be one of the greatest goals in the competition's history.Capped 108 times by France, Zidane won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, scoring twice in the final, and was named to the All-Star Team. This triumph made him a national hero in France, and he received the Legion of Honour in 1998. He won UEFA Euro 2000, and was named Player of the Tournament. He also received the Golden Ball for Player of the Tournament at the 2006 World Cup, despite his infamous sending off in the final against Italy for headbutting Marco Materazzi in the chest. He retired as the fourth-most capped player in French history. In 2004, he was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the world's greatest living players compiled by Pelé, and in the same year was named the best European footballer of the past 50 years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll. Zidane is one of eight players to have won the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League and the Ballon d'Or. He was the ambassador for Qatar's successful bid to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the first Arab country to host the tournament.After retiring as a player, Zidane transitioned into coaching, and began his head coaching career at Real Madrid Castilla. He remained in the position for two years before taking the helm of the first team in 2016. In his initial two and a half seasons, Zidane became the first coach to win the Champions League three times consecutively, won the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup twice each, as well as a La Liga title and a Supercopa de España. This success led to Zidane being named Best FIFA Men's Coach in 2017. He resigned in 2018, but returned to the club as coach in 2019, and proceeded to win another La Liga and Supercopa de España title.

Photo of Michel Platini

2. Michel Platini (1955 - )

With an HPI of 76.90, Michel Platini is the 2nd most famous French Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 82 different languages.

Michel François Platini (born 21 June 1955) is a French football administrator and former player and manager. As the president of UEFA in 2015 he was banned from involvement in football under FIFA's organisation, over ethics violations. The ban will last until 2023. Regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Platini won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1983, 1984 and 1985, and came seventh in the FIFA Player of the Century vote. In recognition of his achievements, he was named a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur in 1985 and became an Officier in 1998. During his career, Platini played for the clubs Nancy, Saint-Étienne, and Juventus. Nicknamed Le Roi (The King) for his ability and leadership, he was a prolific goalscorer; he won the Serie A capocannoniere award three consecutive times between 1983 and 1985, and was the top scorer of Juventus's victorious 1984–85 European Cup campaign. Platini was a key player of the France national team that won the 1984 European Championship, a tournament in which he was the top scorer and best player, and reached the semi-finals of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. Together with midfielders Alain Giresse, Luis Fernández and Jean Tigana, he formed the carré magique (magic square) of the French team in the 1980s. Platini was his country's record goalscorer until 2007, and held the record for most goals (9) scored in the European Championship until being surpassed by Cristiano Ronaldo in 2021, despite only appearing in the victorious 1984 edition.Following his retirement as a player, Platini was the France national team coach for four years, and was the co-organizer of the 1998 World Cup in France. In 2007, he became the first former player to be elected as the president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). He also held the positions of chairman of FIFA's Technical and Development Committee and vice-president of the French Football Federation. In 2015, however, he was banned from football administration for conflict of interest by the FIFA Ethics Committee.

Photo of Raymond Kopa

3. Raymond Kopa (1931 - 2017)

With an HPI of 75.76, Raymond Kopa is the 3rd most famous French Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.

Raymond Kopa (born Raymond Kopaszewski; 13 October 1931 – 3 March 2017) was a French professional footballer, integral to the French national team of the 1950s. At club level he was part of the legendary Real Madrid team of the 1950s, winning three European Cups. Often considered one of the leading players of his generation, Kopa was a free-role advanced playmaker who was quick, agile and known for his love of dribbling. He was also a renowned playmaker, as well as a prolific scorer. In 1958, Kopa was awarded the Ballon d'Or. In 1970, he became the first football player to receive the Légion d'honneur, and in 2004, Pelé named him one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at a FIFA Awards Ceremony.

Photo of Eric Cantona

4. Eric Cantona (1966 - )

With an HPI of 72.38, Eric Cantona is the 4th most famous French Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 64 different languages.

Eric Daniel Pierre Cantona (French pronunciation: ​[eʁik danjɛl pjɛʁ kɑ̃tɔna]; born 24 May 1966) is a French actor, director, producer, and former professional footballer. He played for Auxerre, Martigues, Marseille, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nîmes, and Leeds United before ending his career at Manchester United, where he won four Premier League titles in five years and two League and FA Cup Doubles. He won the league championship in seven of his last eight full seasons as a professional. At international level, he played for the French national team. A large, physically strong, hard-working, and tenacious forward who combined technical skill and creativity with power and goalscoring ability, Cantona is often regarded as having played a key role in the revival of Manchester United as a footballing force in the 1990s and having an iconic status at the club. He is often regarded as one of the greatest footballers of his generation. He wore the iconic No. 7 shirt at Manchester United, and is known for turning up his collar. Cantona is affectionately nicknamed by Manchester United fans as "King Eric" and was voted as the team's greatest ever player by Inside United magazine. Set against his achievements in football was a poor disciplinary record for much of his career, including a 1995 conviction for an assault on an abusive spectator for which he received an eight-month suspension.Following his retirement from football in 1997, he took up a career in cinema and had a role in the 1998 film Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett, the 2008 film French Film, and the 2009 film Looking for Eric. In 2010, he debuted as a stage actor in Face au Paradis, a play directed by his wife, Rachida Brakni. Cantona took an interest in the sport of beach soccer; as player-manager of the France national team, he won the 2005 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.Charismatic and outspoken, Cantona was an inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. The museum states that "the enigmatic Frenchman was one of the Premier League's most controversial players ever". At the Premier League 10 Seasons Awards in 2003, he was voted the Overseas Player of the Decade. Cantona was inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame in 2021. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.

Photo of Lucien Laurent

5. Lucien Laurent (1907 - 2005)

With an HPI of 71.51, Lucien Laurent is the 5th most famous French Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

Lucien Laurent (10 December 1907 – 11 April 2005) was a French association football player who played as a forward. Playing for France, he scored the first ever FIFA World Cup goal.

Photo of Thierry Henry

6. Thierry Henry (1977 - )

With an HPI of 70.41, Thierry Henry is the 6th most famous French Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 83 different languages.

Thierry Daniel Henry (born 17 August 1977) is a French professional football coach and former player who is an assistant coach for Belgium. He is considered one of the greatest strikers of all time and one of the greatest players in the history of the Premier League. In 2003 and 2004, Henry was the runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year, and was runner-up for the Ballon d'Or in the former year. He was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, the FWA Footballer of the Year three times, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year six consecutive times. He was also included in the FIFA FIFPro World XI once and the UEFA Team of the Year five times. He was one of the most commercially marketed footballers during the 2000s. Henry was one of the first two players inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame in 2021.Henry made his professional debut with Monaco in 1994 before signing for defending Serie A champions Juventus. However, limited playing time, coupled with disagreements with the club's hierarchy, led to him signing for English Premier League club Arsenal for £11 million in 1999. Under long-time mentor and coach Arsène Wenger, Henry became a prolific striker and Arsenal's all-time leading scorer with 228 goals in all competitions. He won the Premier League Golden Boot a record four times, won two FA Cups and two Premier League titles with the club, including one during an unbeaten season dubbed The Invincibles. He spent his final two seasons with Arsenal as club captain, leading them to the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final. In June 2007, he transferred to Barcelona. In the 2008–09 season, Henry was a key part of the club's historic treble when they won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League. In 2010, he joined New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer (MLS), but returned to Arsenal on loan for two months in 2012, before retiring in 2014. Henry enjoyed sustained success with France, winning the 1998 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2000 and 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. He was named the French Player of the Year a record five times. He was also named to the UEFA Euro 2000 Team of the Tournament, awarded both the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball and Golden Shoe, and was named to the 2006 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team. In October 2007, he became his country's record goalscorer. After amassing 123 appearances and 51 goals, Henry retired from international football after the 2010 FIFA World Cup. After retiring, Henry transitioned into coaching. He began coaching Arsenal's youth teams in February 2015, in tandem with his work as a pundit for Sky Sports. In 2016, he was appointed as an assistant coach at Belgium, before assuming the role as the head coach at former club Monaco in 2018. He was relieved of his duties at Monaco in January 2019 and returned to MLS less than a year later to manage Montréal Impact. He led Montréal to the playoffs in the 2020 season before stepping down to be close to his children in England.

Photo of Aimé Jacquet

7. Aimé Jacquet (1941 - )

With an HPI of 70.07, Aimé Jacquet is the 7th most famous French Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

Aimé Étienne Jacquet (born 27 November 1941) is a French former professional football manager and player. He was manager of the France national football team that won the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

Photo of Laurent Blanc

8. Laurent Blanc (1965 - )

With an HPI of 69.89, Laurent Blanc is the 8th most famous French Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.

Laurent Robert Blanc (born 19 November 1965) is a French professional football manager and former player who played as a centre-back. He is the head coach of Qatar Stars League club Al-Rayyan. He has the nickname Le Président, which was given to him following his stint at Marseille in tribute to his leadership skills.Blanc played professional football for numerous clubs, including Montpellier, Napoli, Barcelona, Marseille, Inter Milan and Manchester United, often operating in the sweeper position. He is also a former French international, earning 97 caps and scoring 16 international goals. He represented the country in several international tournaments, including the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000, both of which France won. On 28 June 1998, Blanc scored the first golden goal in World Cup history against Paraguay. He began his managerial career at Bordeaux in 2007, winning domestic honours including the 2008–09 Ligue 1 title. After leaving Bordeaux in 2010 he became the manager of the French national team until 2012, replacing Raymond Domenech in the wake of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and leading the country to the quarter-finals of UEFA Euro 2012. In 2013, he was hired by Paris Saint-Germain, winning further honours. After three successful years with Paris Saint-Germain he left the club in June 2016.

Photo of Didier Deschamps

9. Didier Deschamps (1968 - )

With an HPI of 69.71, Didier Deschamps is the 9th most famous French Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 65 different languages.

Didier Claude Deschamps (French pronunciation: ​[didje klod deʃɑ̃]; born 15 October 1968) is a French professional football manager and former player who has been manager of the France national team since 2012. He played as a defensive midfielder for several clubs, in France, Italy, England and Spain, namely Marseille, Juventus, Chelsea and Valencia, as well as Nantes and Bordeaux. Nicknamed "the water-carrier" (French: le porteur d'eau) by former France teammate Eric Cantona, Deschamps was an intelligent and hard-working defensive midfielder who excelled at winning back possession and subsequently starting attacking plays, and also stood out for his leadership throughout his career. As a French international, he was capped on 103 occasions and took part at three UEFA European Football Championships and one FIFA World Cup, captaining his nation to victories in the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. In addition to winning two Ligue 1 titles in 1991 and 1992, Deschamps was part of the Marseille squad that became the first, and so far only, French club to win the UEFA Champions League, a feat which the team achieved in 1993; with the Champions League victory, Deschamps became the youngest captain ever to lead his team to win the title. With Juventus he played three Champions League finals in a row between 1996 and 1998, winning the title in 1996. With the Turin side, he also won the UEFA Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup, as well as three Serie A titles, among other trophies. With Chelsea, he won the 1999–2000 FA Cup, and also reached another Champions League final with Valencia in 2001, before retiring later that season. After Franz Beckenbauer and followed by Iker Casillas, he was only the second captain in the history of football to have lifted the Champions League trophy, the World Cup trophy, and the European Championship trophy.As a manager, Deschamps began his career with Monaco, and helped the club to win the Coupe de la Ligue in 2003, and reached the 2004 UEFA Champions League Final, being named Ligue 1 Manager of the Year in 2004. During the 2006–07 season, he helped his former club Juventus win the Serie B title and return to Serie A following their relegation due to their involvement in the 2006 Calciopoli Scandal the previous season. He subsequently managed another one of his former clubs, Marseille, where he won the Ligue 1 title during the 2009–10 season, as well as three consecutive Coupe de la Ligue titles between 2010 and 2012, and consecutive Trophée des Champions titles in 2010 and 2011. On 8 July 2012, Deschamps was named as the new manager of the French national team. He led the team to the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the final of UEFA Euro 2016, and victory in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the last of these making Deschamps the third man to win the World Cup as both a player and a manager. Alongside Mário Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer, Deschamps follows Beckenbauer as only the second to do so as captain.

Photo of Michel Hidalgo

10. Michel Hidalgo (1933 - 2020)

With an HPI of 69.44, Michel Hidalgo is the 10th most famous French Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Michel François Hidalgo (22 March 1933 – 26 March 2020) was a French professional footballer and manager. He was the head coach of the French national team from 1976 to 1984, with whom he won the UEFA Euro 1984 on home soil, also reaching the semi-finals of the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

Pantheon has 713 people classified as soccer players born between 1883 and 2003. Of these 713, 649 (91.02%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, and Eric Cantona. The most famous deceased soccer players include Raymond Kopa, Lucien Laurent, and Michel Hidalgo. As of October 2020, 157 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Jacques Simon, Edmond Baraffe, and Albert Batteux.

Living Soccer Players

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Deceased Soccer Players

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Newly Added Soccer Players (2020)

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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.