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 77.43, Gerd Müller is the most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 80 different languages on wikipedia.
Gerhard "Gerd" Müller (German pronunciation: [ˈɡɛʁt ˈmʏlɐ]; 3 November 1945 – 15 August 2021) was a German professional footballer. A striker renowned for his clinical finishing, especially in and around the six-yard box, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of the sport.At international level with West Germany, he scored 68 goals in 62 appearances, and at club level, in 15 years with Bayern Munich in which he scored 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga matches, he became – and still is – record holder of that league. In 74 European club games he scored 65 goals. Averaging over a goal a game with West Germany, Müller was, as of 11 July 2021, 21st on the list of all time international goalscorers, despite playing fewer matches than every other player in the top 48. Among the top scorers, he has the third-highest goal-to-game ratio. He also had the highest ratio of 0.97 goals per game in the European Cup, scoring 34 goals in 35 matches.Nicknamed "Bomber der Nation" ("the nation's Bomber") or simply "Der Bomber", Müller was named European Footballer of the Year in 1970. After a successful season at Bayern Munich, he scored ten goals at the 1970 FIFA World Cup for West Germany where he received the Golden Boot as top goalscorer. In 1972, he won the UEFA European Championship and was the top goalscorer, scoring two goals in the final. Two years later, he scored four goals in the 1974 World Cup, including the winning goal in the final. Müller held the all-time goal-scoring record in the World Cup with 14 goals for 32 years. In 1999, Müller was ranked ninth in the European player of the Century election held by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), and he was voted 13th in the IFFHS' World Player of the Century election. In 2004, Pelé named Müller in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.
With an HPI of 76.95, Franz Beckenbauer is the 2nd most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 83 different languages.
Franz Anton Beckenbauer (German pronunciation: [ˈfʁants ˈbɛkŋ̍ˌbaʊɐ], audio ; born 11 September 1945) is a German former professional footballer and manager. In his playing career he was nicknamed Der Kaiser ("The Emperor") because of his elegant style, dominance and leadership on the field, and also as his first name "Franz" is reminiscent of the Austrian emperors. He is widely regarded to be one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. A versatile player who started out as a midfielder, Beckenbauer made his name as a central defender. He is often credited as having invented the role of the modern sweeper (libero).Twice named European Footballer of the Year, Beckenbauer appeared 103 times for West Germany and played in three FIFA World Cups and two European Championships. He is one of three men, along with Brazil's Mário Zagallo and France's Didier Deschamps, to have won the World Cup as a player and as a manager; he lifted the World Cup trophy as captain in 1974, and repeated the feat as a manager in 1990. He was the first captain to lift the World Cup and European Championship at international level and the European Cup at club level. He was named in the World Team of the 20th Century in 1998, the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002, the Ballon d'Or Dream Team in 2020, and in 2004 was listed in the FIFA 100 of the world's greatest living players.At club level with Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1967 and three consecutive European Cups from 1974 to 1976. The latter feat made him the first player to win three European Cups as captain of his club. He became team manager and later president of Bayern Munich. After two spells with the New York Cosmos he was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame. Beckenbauer led Germany's successful bid to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup and chaired the organizing committee. He worked as a pundit for Sky Germany, and for 34 years as a columnist for the tabloid Bild, both until 2016. In August 2016, it was announced Beckenbauer was being investigated for fraud and money laundering as part of the 2006 World Cup. The investigation was closed without a verdict in 2020 as the statute of limitations expired.
With an HPI of 67.82, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is the 3rd most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.
Karl-Heinz "Kalle" Rummenigge (German: [ˌkaʁlˈhaɪnts ˈkalə ˈʁʊmənɪɡə]; born 25 September 1955) is a German football executive and former professional player. He was the longtime Chairman of Executive Board of FC Bayern München AG, a daughter company of German Bundesliga team Bayern Munich. As a player, Rummenigge had his greatest career success with Bayern Munich, where he won the Intercontinental Cup, two European Cups, as well as two league titles and two domestic cups. He was also honoured twice as European Footballer of the Year. A member of the West Germany national team, Rummenigge won the 1980 European Championship and was part of the squad that finished runner-up in the 1982 FIFA World Cup and at the 1986 World Cup. Rummenigge is a former chairman of the European Club Association, serving in that capacity from 2008 until 2017.
With an HPI of 67.00, Lothar Matthäus is the 4th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.
Lothar Herbert Matthäus (German pronunciation: [ˈloːtaʁ maˈtɛːʊs] (listen); born 21 March 1961) is a German football pundit and former professional player and manager. After captaining West Germany to victory in the 1990 FIFA World Cup where he lifted the World Cup trophy, he was awarded the Ballon d'Or. In 1991, he was named the first FIFA World Player of the Year, and remains the only German to have received the award. He was also included in the Ballon d'Or Dream Team in 2020. Matthäus held the record (along Mexican goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal) of having played in five FIFA World Cups (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998); more than any other outfield player in men's football, until the 2018 World Cup, in which Mexico's Rafael Márquez equalled his record, and holds the record for the most World Cup matches played by a single player (25 games). He also won UEFA Euro 1980, and played in the 1984, 1988 and 2000 UEFA European Championships. In 1999, aged 38, Matthäus was again voted German Footballer of the Year, having previously won the award in 1990. Matthäus is the most capped German player of all time, retiring with a total of 150 appearances (83 for West Germany) in 20 years, and 23 goals. Matthäus is a member of the FIFA 100 list of the greatest living football players chosen by Pelé. Diego Maradona said of Matthäus, "he is the best rival I've ever had. I guess that's enough to define him", in his book Yo soy el Diego (I am the Diego).A versatile and complete player, Matthäus is regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time, and was renowned for his perceptive passing, positional sense, well-timed tackling, as well as powerful shooting. During his career, he usually played as a box-to-box midfielder, although late in his career he played as a sweeper.
With an HPI of 64.62, Oliver Kahn is the 5th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 71 different languages.
Oliver Rolf Kahn (German: [ˈɔlɪvɐ ˈkaːn]; born 15 June 1969) is a German football executive and former professional player who played as a goalkeeper. He started his career in the Karlsruher SC Junior team in 1975. Twelve years later, Kahn made his debut match in the professional squad. In 1994, he was transferred to Bayern Munich for the fee of DM 4.6 million, where he played until the end of his career in 2008. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most successful goalkeepers of all-time. His commanding presence in goal and aggressive style earned him nicknames such as Der Titan ([deːɐ̯ tiˈtaːn], "The Titan") from the press and Vol-kahn-o ("volcano") from fans.Kahn is one of the most successful German players in recent history, having won eight Bundesliga titles, six DFB-Pokals, the UEFA Cup in 1996, the UEFA Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup, both achieved in 2001. Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, his individual contributions have earned him a record four consecutive UEFA Best European Goalkeeper awards, as well as three IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper awards, and two German Footballer of the Year trophies. At the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Kahn became the only goalkeeper in the tournament's history to win the Golden Ball. Kahn placed fifth in both the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper of the 21st Century and Best Goalkeeper of the Past 25 Years elections.From 1994 to 2006, Kahn was part of the German national team, in which he played as a starter after the retirement of Andreas Köpke, he was an unused member of the squad that won the 1996 UEFA European Championship. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, although Germany were not among the tournament favourites, Kahn's prowess in goal was key to reaching the final, where Germany lost 0–2 to Brazil. Kahn made a mistake on Brazil's first goal; nonetheless, he received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament.On 1 July 2021, he became the CEO of Bayern Munich.
With an HPI of 62.98, Fritz Walter is the 6th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.
Friedrich "Fritz" Walter (German pronunciation: [fʁɪt͡s ˈvaltɐ], audio ; 31 October 1920 – 17 June 2002) was a German footballer who spent his entire senior career at 1. FC Kaiserslautern. He usually played as an attacking midfielder or inside forward. In his time with the German national team, he appeared in 61 games and scored 33 goals, and was captain of the team that won the 1954 FIFA World Cup.
With an HPI of 62.75, Paul Breitner is the 7th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 55 different languages.
Paul Breitner (born 5 September 1951) is a German former professional footballer who played as a midfielder and left-back. Considered one of the best players of his era, Breitner was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, and was named by Pelé one of the top 125 greatest living footballers at a FIFA Awards ceremony in 2004. He was known for his partnerships with Franz Beckenbauer and Berti Vogts in defence for the national team, and his midfield combination with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge for Bayern Munich. Breitner was capped 48 times for West Germany and was an integral part of the team that won the 1974 FIFA World Cup, scoring in the final. He also scored in the final of the 1982 FIFA World Cup, making him one of only four players to have scored in two different World Cup final matches, the others being Pelé, Vavá and Zinedine Zidane. Breitner has been working as a commentator, pundit and columnist in Germany since retiring and is also an advisor to the Bayern management board.
With an HPI of 62.73, Jürgen Klinsmann is the 8th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 67 different languages.
Jürgen Klinsmann (German pronunciation: [ˈjʏʁɡn̩ ˈkliːnsˌman], born 30 July 1964) is a German professional football manager and former player. Klinsmann played for several prominent clubs in Europe including VfB Stuttgart, Inter Milan, Monaco, Tottenham Hotspur, and Bayern Munich. He was part of the West German team that won the 1990 FIFA World Cup and the unified German team that won the 1996 UEFA European Championship. As a manager, he managed the German national team to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup and was subsequently coach of a number of other teams including, notably, Bundesliga club Bayern Munich and the United States national team. Considered one of Germany's premier strikers during the 1990s, he scored in all six major international tournaments he participated in, from Euro 1988 to the 1998 World Cup. In 1995, he came in third in the FIFA World Player of the Year award; in 2004 he was named in the FIFA 100 list of the "125 Greatest Living Footballers". On 3 November 2016, he became the fifth player to be named as honorary captain of Germany.
With an HPI of 62.64, Uwe Seeler is the 9th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.
Uwe Seeler (German pronunciation: [ˈuːvə ˈzeːlɐ]; 5 November 1936 – 21 July 2022) was a German footballer and football official. As a striker, he was a prolific scorer for Hamburger SV and also made 72 appearances for the West Germany national team. Usually regarded as one of the greatest players in German football history, Seeler was named one of FIFA's 100 greatest living players by Pelé in 2004. He was the first football player to be awarded the Great Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
With an HPI of 61.39, Rudi Völler is the 10th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.
Rudolf "Rudi" Völler (pronounced [ˈfœlɐ]; born 13 April 1960), nicknamed "Tante Käthe" ("Aunt Käthe"), is a German former professional football player and manager who serves as the sporting director for Bayer Leverkusen. A forward, Völler won the FIFA World Cup in 1990 as a player. He also scored an equalizing goal to make it 2–2 in the 81st minute of the 1986 FIFA World Cup Final vs Argentina, but it ended up with a 3–2 victory for Argentina. Along with Mário Zagallo, Franz Beckenbauer and Didier Deschamps, Völler has the distinction of reaching a World Cup final as both a player (1986 and 1990) and as a manager (2002).
Pantheon has 760 people classified as soccer players born between 1872 and 2003. Of these 760, 664 (87.37%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and Lothar Matthäus. The most famous deceased soccer players include Gerd Müller, Fritz Walter, and Helmut Schön. As of April 2022, 63 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Franz John, Horst Blankenburg, and Georg Buschner.
1945 - Present
1955 - Present
1961 - Present
1969 - Present
1951 - Present
1964 - Present
1936 - Present
1960 - Present
1953 - Present
1946 - Present
1944 - Present
1943 - Present
1945 - 2021
1920 - 2002
1915 - 1996
1929 - 2003
1939 - 2012
1923 - 2013
1927 - 2007
1897 - 1977
1925 - 2015
1932 - 2021
1925 - 1994
1927 - 2017
1872 - 1952
1947 - Present
1925 - 2007
1949 - 2021
1911 - 1966
1916 - 1982
1910 - 1981
1912 - 1970
2003 - Present
1912 - Present
1936 - 1987
1962 - Present
Which Soccer Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.