The Most Famous

SOCCER PLAYERS from Italy

Icon of occuation in country

This page contains a list of the greatest Soccer Players. The pantheon dataset contains 16,880 Soccer Players, 541 of which were born in Italy. This makes Italy the birth place of the 7th most number of Soccer Players behind France and Germany.

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 Giuseppe Meazza

1. Giuseppe Meazza (1910 - 1979)

With an HPI of 71.84, Giuseppe Meazza is the most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 57 different languages on wikipedia.

Giuseppe "Peppino" Meazza (Italian pronunciation: [dʒuˈzɛppe meˈattsa]; 23 August 1910 – 21 August 1979), also known as il Balilla, was an Italian football manager and player. Throughout his career, he played mainly for Inter Milan in the 1930s, scoring 242 goals in 365 games for the club, and winning three Serie A titles, as well as the Coppa Italia; he later also played for local rivals Milan, as well as Turin rivals Juventus, in addition to his spells with Varese and Atalanta. At international level, he led Italy to win two consecutive World Cups: in 1934 on home soil, and in 1938 as captain; he was named to the All-star Team and won the Golden Ball Award at the 1934 World Cup, as the tournament's best player. Meazza is widely considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, as well as being regarded by many in the sport as Italy's greatest ever player. Giuseppe Prisco and Gianni Brera considered him to be the greatest footballer of all time.Along with Giovanni Ferrari, Guido Masetti and Eraldo Monzeglio, he is one of only three Italian players to have won two World Cups. Following his retirement, he served as a coach for the Italy national team, and with several Italian clubs, including his former club sides Inter and Atalanta, as well as Pro Patria, and Turkish club Beşiktaş; he was Italy's head coach at the 1952 Summer Olympics. Due to his technical skill, prolific goalscoring, and creative ability, he was often given the nickname "il genio" (the genius) by the Italian press during his career. He has been ranked fourth-best player in the history of the World Cup. A prolific forward, Meazza won the Serie A top-scorer award on three occasions in his career; with 216 goals in Serie A, he is the fourth all-time highest goal scorer in Serie A, alongside José Altafini, and with 33 goals, he is also the second highest goalscorer for the Italian national team. With 338 goals, he is the third-highest Italian goalscorer in all competitions. He is also the youngest player ever to score 100 goals in Serie A, a feat which he achieved at the age of 23 years and 32 days. San Siro, the principal stadium in his native city of Milan, which is today shared by two of his former clubs, Inter Milan and crosstown rivals A.C. Milan, was named Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in the player's honour on 3 March 1980. In 2011, he was posthumously inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame. Throughout his career, including friendlies, Meazza scored 537 goals.

Photo of Cesare Maldini

2. Cesare Maldini (1932 - 2016)

With an HPI of 70.79, Cesare Maldini is the 2nd most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 47 different languages.

Cesare Maldini (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtʃeːzare malˈdiːni, ˈtʃɛː-]; 5 February 1932 – 3 April 2016) was an Italian professional football manager and player who played as a defender. Father to Paolo Maldini and grandfather to Daniel Maldini, Cesare began his career with Italian side Triestina, before transferring to AC Milan in 1954, whom he captained to win four Serie A league titles and one European Cup during his twelve seasons with the club. He retired in 1967, after a season with Torino. Internationally, he played for Italy, earning 14 caps and participating in the 1962 World Cup. He served as team captain for both Milan and Italy. As a manager, he also coached his former club Milan on two occasions, as well as Italian sides Foggia, Ternana and Parma. He had a successful career in charge of the Italy under-21 side, winning the European Under-21 Championship a record three consecutive times; he later also coached the Italy senior team at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, and the Paraguay national football team at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Photo of Roberto Baggio

3. Roberto Baggio (1967 - )

With an HPI of 66.63, Roberto Baggio is the 3rd most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 75 different languages.

Roberto Baggio (Italian pronunciation: [roˈbɛrto ˈbaddʒo]; born 18 February 1967) is an Italian former professional footballer who mainly played as a second striker, or as an attacking midfielder, although he was capable of playing in several offensive positions. He is the former president of the technical sector of the Italian Football Federation. A technically gifted creative playmaker and set piece specialist, renowned for his curling free-kicks, dribbling skills, and goalscoring, Baggio is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. In 1999, he came fourth in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll, and was chosen on the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002. In 1993, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100, a list of the world's greatest living players.Baggio played for Italy in 56 matches, scoring 27 goals, and is the joint fourth-highest goalscorer for his national team, alongside Alessandro Del Piero. He starred in the Italian team that finished third in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, scoring twice. At the 1994 World Cup, he led Italy to the final, scoring five goals, received the World Cup Silver Ball and was named in the World Cup All-Star Team. Although he was the star performer for Italy at the tournament, he missed the decisive penalty in the shootout of the final against Brazil. At the 1998 World Cup, he scored twice before Italy were eliminated by eventual champions France in the quarter-finals. Baggio is the only Italian to score in three World Cups, and with nine goals holds the record for most goals scored in World Cup tournaments for Italy, along with Paolo Rossi and Christian Vieri.In 2002, Baggio became the first Italian player in over 50 years to score more than 300 career goals; he is the fifth-highest scoring Italian in all competitions with 318 goals. In 2004, during the final season of his career, Baggio became the first player in over 30 years to score 200 goals in Serie A, and is the seventh-highest goalscorer of all time in Serie A, with 205 goals. In 1990, he moved from Fiorentina to Juventus for a world record transfer fee. Baggio won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, and a UEFA Cup, playing for seven different Italian clubs during his career (Vicenza, Fiorentina, Juventus, AC Milan, Bologna, Inter Milan, and Brescia). Baggio is known as Il Divin Codino ("The Divine Ponytail"), for the hairstyle he wore for most of his career, for his talent, and for his Buddhist beliefs. In 2002, Baggio was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In 2003, he was the inaugural winner of the Golden Foot award. In recognition of his human rights activism, he received the Man of Peace award from the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in 2010. In 2011, he was the first footballer to be inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame. Throughout his career, including friendlies, Baggio scored 425 goals.

Photo of Paolo Maldini

4. Paolo Maldini (1968 - )

With an HPI of 66.40, Paolo Maldini is the 4th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 72 different languages.

Paolo Cesare Maldini (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpaːolo malˈdiːni]; born 26 June 1968) is an Italian former professional footballer who played primarily as a left back and centre back for AC Milan and the Italy national team. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders and players of all time. As the Milan and Italy captain for many years he was nicknamed "Il Capitano" ("The Captain"). Maldini held the record for most appearances in Serie A, with 647, until 2020, when he was overtaken by Gianluigi Buffon. He is currently serving as technical director for Milan, as well as being co-owner of USL Championship club Miami FC. Maldini spent all 25 seasons of his playing career in the Serie A with Milan, before retiring at the age of 41 in 2009. He won 26 trophies with Milan: the European Cup/UEFA Champions League five times, seven Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italiana titles, five European/UEFA Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup. Maldini won the Best Defender trophy at the UEFA Club Football Awards at the age of 39, as well as the Serie A Defender of the Year Award in 2004. Following his retirement after the 2008–09 season, Milan retired his number 3 shirt.Maldini made his debut for Italy in 1988, playing for 14 years before retiring in 2002 with 7 goals and 126 caps, an appearance record at the time, which has since been surpassed by Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluigi Buffon. Maldini captained Italy for eight years and held the record for appearances as Italy's captain (75), until he was again overtaken by Cannavaro and Buffon. With Italy, Maldini took part in four FIFA World Cups and three UEFA European Championships. Although he did not win a tournament with Italy, he reached the final of the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000, and the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1988. He was elected into the all-star teams for each of these tournaments, in addition to Euro 1996. Maldini came second to George Weah for FIFA World Player of the Year in 1995. He also placed third in the Ballon d'Or in 1994 and 2003. In 2002, he was chosen as a defender on the FIFA World Cup Dream Team, and in 2004 Pelé named him in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. He was also selected for the Ballon d'Or Dream Team in 2020. Maldini held the record for most appearances in UEFA Club competitions, with 174, until he was overtaken by Iker Casillas in 2017. He is the record appearance holder for Milan with 902 appearances in all competitions, and is one of the few players to have made over 1,000 career appearances. In December 2012, he was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

Photo of Paolo Rossi

5. Paolo Rossi (1956 - 2020)

With an HPI of 65.29, Paolo Rossi is the 5th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 60 different languages.

Paolo Rossi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpaːolo ˈrossi]; 23 September 1956 – 9 December 2020) was an Italian professional footballer who played as a forward. He led Italy to the 1982 FIFA World Cup title, scoring six goals to win the Golden Boot as top goalscorer, and the Golden Ball for the player of the tournament. Rossi is one of only three players, and the only European, to have won all three awards at a World Cup, along with Garrincha in 1962, and Mario Kempes in 1978. Rossi was also awarded the 1982 Ballon d'Or as the European Footballer of the Year for his performances (remaining the only player in history to win these four awards in a single year). Along with Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri, he is Italy's top scorer in World Cup history, with nine goals overall.At club level, Rossi was also a prolific goalscorer for Vicenza. In 1976, he was signed to Juventus from Vicenza in a co-ownership deal for a world record transfer fee. Vicenza retained his services, and he was the top goalscorer in Serie B in 1977, leading his team to promotion to Serie A. The following season, Rossi scored 24 goals, to become the first player to top the scoring charts in Serie B and Serie A in consecutive seasons. Rossi made his debut for Juventus in 1981, and went on to win two Serie A titles, the Coppa Italia, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, and the European Cup. Widely regarded as one of the greatest Italian footballers of all time, Rossi was named in 2004 by Pelé as one of the Top 125 greatest living footballers as part of FIFA's 100th anniversary celebration. In the same year, Rossi placed 12th in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll. After he retired from football, he worked as a pundit for Sky, Mediaset Premium, and Rai Sport, until his death on 9 December 2020.

Photo of Giacinto Facchetti

6. Giacinto Facchetti (1942 - 2006)

With an HPI of 65.22, Giacinto Facchetti is the 6th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.

Giacinto Facchetti (Italian pronunciation: [dʒaˈtʃinto fakˈketti]; 18 July 1942 – 4 September 2006) was an Italian footballer who played as a left-back for Inter Milan from 1960 to 1978. He later served as Inter chairman from January 2004 until his death in 2006. He played 634 official games for the club, scoring 75 goals, and was a member of "Grande Inter" team under manager Helenio Herrera which won four Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, two European Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups. He placed second for the Ballon d'Or in 1965. Facchetti represented Italy internationally on 94 occasions, including three FIFA World Cups. He was also elected to the 1970 World Cup All-Star Team, in which Italy were runners-up. He was also captain of the national side that won Italy's first ever UEFA European Championship on home soil in 1968, where he was also elected to the team of the tournament. Facchetti is remembered as one of the first truly great attacking full-backs. He is regarded as one of the best football players ever at his position, due to his pace, technique, intelligence, physique, and stamina. He formed a formidable defensive partnership with fellow full-back Tarcisio Burgnich in Inter's defensive catenaccio system and with the Italian national side. In addition to his ability on the pitch, Facchetti was lauded for his discipline and leadership and captained both Inter Milan and Italy for several years.In March 2004, Pelé named him one of the Top 125 greatest living footballers as part of FIFA's 100th anniversary celebrations. In 2015, he was posthumously inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

Photo of Gianni Rivera

7. Gianni Rivera (1943 - )

With an HPI of 64.23, Gianni Rivera is the 7th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.

Giovanni "Gianni" Rivera (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒanni riˈveːra]; born 18 August 1943) is an Italian politician and former footballer who played as a midfielder. During his career as a footballer he was mostly utilised as an attacking midfielder. Dubbed Italy's "Golden Boy" by the media, he played the majority of his club career with Italian side AC Milan, after beginning his career with hometown club Alessandria in 1959. After joining Milan in 1960, he enjoyed a highly successful career in domestic and European football, winning three Serie A titles and two European Cups, among several other trophies, and also serving as the team's captain for twelve seasons. At international level, he represented Italy 60 times between 1962 and 1974, scoring 14 goals, and took part at four World Cups (1962, 1966, 1970, and 1974). Rivera is widely remembered for scoring the decisive goal in Italy's 4–3 extra-time win over West Germany in the semi-final of the 1970 World Cup, leading the team to final, only to suffer a 4–1 defeat against Brazil, however. Rivera was also a member of the first Italian side ever to win the European Football Championship in 1968, on home soil, and represented Italy at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, helping the team to a fourth-place finish.Rivera was an elegant, efficient, and creative offensive playmaker, with an eye for goal, who possessed excellent vision and technical ability, and who was highly regarded for his footballing intelligence, leadership, correct behaviour, and class. He is widely considered to be one of the best passers and most talented offensive playmakers of all time, due to his passing accuracy and his adeptness at providing assists. Regarded as one of the best players of his generation, one of the greatest Italian footballers of all time, and by some as Italy's greatest player ever, he was awarded the Ballon d'Or in 1969, and placed 19th in IFFHS's election for the World Player of the 20th Century. In 2015, he became the first Italian footballer out of 100 athletes to be inducted into Italy's sports Walk of Fame. In 2004, Pelé chose Rivera as part of the FIFA 100 greatest living footballers, and he placed 35th in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll.After retiring from football in 1979, Rivera became Milan's vice-president, and later went into politics in 1987. In 2013 he was appointed the President of the educational youth sector by the FIGC for the Italy national team, along with Roberto Baggio and Arrigo Sacchi, under head coach Cesare Prandelli.

Photo of Silvio Piola

8. Silvio Piola (1913 - 1996)

With an HPI of 64.16, Silvio Piola is the 8th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Silvio Piola (Italian pronunciation: [ˈsilvjo ˈpjɔːla]; 29 September 1913 – 4 October 1996) was an Italian footballer who played as a striker. He is known as a highly prominent figure in the history of Italian football due to several records he set, and he is regarded as one of the greatest strikers of his generation, as well as one of the best Italian players of all time. Piola was part of the squad that won the 1933-35 Central European International Cup & the squad that won the 1938 FIFA World Cup with Italy, scoring two goals in the final, ending the tournament as the second best player and the second highest scorer.Piola is third in the all-time goalscoring records of the Italian national team. He is also the highest goalscorer in Italian first league history, with 290 goals (274 in Serie A and 16 in Divisione Nazionale), and also in Serie A history. He played 566 Serie A games, putting him fourth on the all-time list for appearances in Italy's top flight. Piola is the only player to have the honour of being the all-time Serie A top scorer of three different teams (Pro Vercelli, Lazio and Novara) Piola is also the highest scoring Italian player in all competitions, with 364 goals (391 if his goals in the Divisione Nazionale and for the Italy B team are also included). Throughout his career, including friendlies, Piola scored 682 goals.After his death a pair of Italian stadiums were renamed after him: one in Novara in 1997 and another in Vercelli in 1998. In 2011, he was posthumously inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

Photo of Gianluigi Buffon

9. Gianluigi Buffon (1978 - )

With an HPI of 64.02, Gianluigi Buffon is the 9th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 89 different languages.

Gianluigi Buffon (Italian pronunciation: [dʒanluˈiːdʒi bufˈfɔn]; born 28 January 1978) is an Italian professional footballer who captains and plays as a goalkeeper for the Serie B club Parma. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. He is one of the few recorded players to have made over 1,100 professional career appearances. At club level, Buffon's professional career began with Parma in 1995, where he made his Serie A debut. He soon broke into the starting line-up and earned a reputation as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in Italy, helping Parma to win the Coppa Italia, the UEFA Cup and the Supercoppa Italiana in 1995. After joining Juventus in 2001, for the world record fee for a goalkeeper of €52 million at the time, Buffon won Serie A titles in both of his first two seasons at the club, and established himself as one of the best players in the world in his position. In his first spell at Juventus, he won a record nine Serie A titles, four Coppa Italias, and five Supercoppa Italianas. He was the first goalkeeper to win the Serie A Footballer of the Year award, and was named Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record twelve times. After reaching the 1996 2015 and 2017 UEFA Champions League finals and winning the 1996 campaign, he was named to the Champions League Squad of the Season on both occasions, and won the inaugural The Best FIFA Goalkeeper award in the latter year. After 17 years with Juventus, Buffon signed with French club Paris Saint-Germain at the age of 40 in 2018, where he was used in a rotational role with Alphonse Areola; he won the Trophée des Champions and the Ligue 1 title in his only season with the team, before returning to Juventus the following year. During the 2019–20 season, Buffon served primarily as a back-up to Wojciech Szczęsny, but still managed to break Paolo Maldini's record of 647 appearances in Serie A, as he won a record tenth Serie A title with the club. The following season he continued to serve as a back-up, but started in the Coppa Italia, winning his record sixth title. In June 2021, he returned to his boyhood club Parma, who were relegated to Serie B for that season. With 176 international caps, Buffon is the most capped player in the history of the Italy national team, the seventh-most capped footballer of all time (joint with Hossam Hassan), and the third-most capped European international player ever; Buffon also holds the record for most appearances for Italy as captain after he inherited the armband in 2010. Buffon was called up for a record of five FIFA World Cup tournaments (in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014) after making his debut in 1997; he was an unused substitute in the 1998 edition. He was the starting goalkeeper of the squad that won the 2006 tournament, being awarded the Golden Glove as the competition's best goalkeeper. He also represented Italy at four European Championships, at the 1996 Olympics, and at two FIFA Confederations Cups, winning a bronze medal in the 2013 edition of the tournament. Following his performances during the 2006 World Cup, where he kept a record five clean sheets, Buffon won the Yashin Award and was elected to the Team of the Tournament, an honour he also received from UEFA after reaching the quarter-finals of the 2008 and the final of the 2012 European Championship. Buffon retired from international football in 2017, after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup; although he reversed this decision to play in the team's friendlies the following year, he officially confirmed his international retirement in May 2018. Buffon was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players in 2004. He is the only goalkeeper to win the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award, which he achieved after reaching the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final; he also won UEFA's award for best goalkeeper that year, and was additionally voted into the UEFA Team of the Year on five occasions. Buffon was the runner-up for the Ballon d'Or in 2006, and was elected part of the FIFPro World11 three times. He was the first ever goalkeeper to win the Golden Foot Award, and was also named the IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper a record five times (alongside Iker Casillas and Manuel Neuer); he would go on to be named the best goalkeeper of the 21st century, of the past 25 years and of the decade by the same organisation.

Photo of Francesco Totti

10. Francesco Totti (1976 - )

With an HPI of 63.83, Francesco Totti is the 10th most famous Soccer Player.  His biography has been translated into 112 different languages.

Francesco Totti (Italian pronunciation: [franˈtʃesko ˈtɔtti]; born 27 September 1976) is an Italian former professional footballer who played solely for Roma and the Italy national team. He is often referred to as Er Bimbo de Oro (The Golden Boy), L'Ottavo Re di Roma (The Eighth King of Rome), Er Pupone (The Big Baby), and Il Capitano (The Captain) by the Italian sports media. A creative offensive playmaker who could play as an attacking midfielder and as a forward (second striker, lone striker, or winger), renowned for his vision, technique, and goalscoring ability, Totti is considered to be one of the greatest Italian players of all time, one of the best players of his generation, and Roma's greatest player ever.Totti spent his entire career at Roma, winning a Serie A title, two Coppa Italia titles, and two Supercoppa Italiana titles. He is the second-highest scorer of all time in Italian league history with 250 goals, and is the sixth-highest scoring Italian in all competitions with 316 goals. Totti is the top goalscorer and the most capped player in Roma's history, holds the record for the most goals scored in Serie A while playing for a single club, and also holds the record for the youngest club captain in the history of Serie A. In November 2014, Totti extended his record as the oldest goalscorer in UEFA Champions League history, aged 38 years and 59 days. A 2006 FIFA World Cup winner and UEFA Euro 2000 finalist with Italy, Totti was selected in the All-Star team for both tournaments; he also represented his country at the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004. In 2007, Totti announced his international retirement due to recurring physical problems and in order to focus solely on club play with Roma.Totti won a record eleven Oscar del Calcio awards from the Italian Footballers' Association: five Serie A Italian Footballer of the Year awards, two Serie A Footballer of the Year awards, two Serie A Goal of the Year awards, one Serie A Goalscorer of the Year award, and one Serie A Young Footballer of the Year award. He also won the 2007 European Golden Shoe and the 2010 Golden Foot. Totti was selected in the European Sports Media team of the season three times. In 2004, he was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the world's greatest living players as selected by Pelé, as part of FIFA's centenary celebrations. In 2011, Totti was recognised by IFFHS as the most popular footballer in Europe. In 2015, France Football rated him as one of the ten-best footballers in the world who are over age 36. Following his retirement in 2017, Totti was awarded the Player's Career Award and the UEFA President's Award.

Pantheon has 595 people classified as soccer players born between 1886 and 2002. Of these 595, 471 (79.16%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Roberto Baggio, Paolo Maldini, and Gianni Rivera. The most famous deceased soccer players include Giuseppe Meazza, Cesare Maldini, and Paolo Rossi. As of April 2022, 54 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Umberto Colombo, Renato Cesarini, and Aldo Ballarin.

Living Soccer Players

Go to all Rankings

Deceased Soccer Players

Go to all Rankings

Newly Added Soccer Players (2022)

Go to all Rankings

Which Soccer Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.