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 70.37, Cristiano Ronaldo is the most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 148 different languages on wikipedia.
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro (Portuguese pronunciation: [kɾiʃˈtjɐnu ʁɔˈnaɫdu]; born 5 February 1985) is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Premier League club Manchester United and captains the Portugal national team. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Ronaldo has won five Ballon d'Or awards and four European Golden Shoes, the most by a European player. He has won 32 trophies in his career, including seven league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues, and the UEFA European Championship. Ronaldo holds the records for most appearances (183), goals (140), and assists (42) in the Champions League, goals in the European Championship (14), international goals (117), and international appearances by a European (191). He is one of the few players to have made over 1,100 professional career appearances, and has scored over 800 official senior career goals for club and country. Ronaldo began his senior career with Sporting CP, before signing with Manchester United in 2003, aged 18, winning the FA Cup in his first season. He would also go on to win three consecutive Premier League titles, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup; at age 23, he won his first Ballon d'Or. Ronaldo was the subject of the then-most expensive association football transfer when he signed for Real Madrid in 2009 in a transfer worth €94 million (£80 million), where he won 15 trophies, including two La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey, and four Champions Leagues, and became the club's all-time top goalscorer. He won back-to-back Ballons d'Or in 2013 and 2014, and again in 2016 and 2017, and was runner-up three times behind Lionel Messi, his perceived career rival. In 2018, he signed for Juventus in a transfer worth an initial €100 million (£88 million), the most expensive transfer for an Italian club and for a player over 30 years old. He won two Serie A titles, two Supercoppe Italiana, and a Coppa Italia, before returning to Manchester United in 2021. Ronaldo made his international debut for Portugal in 2003 at the age of 18 and has since earned over 190 caps, making him Portugal's most-capped player. With more than 100 goals at international level, he is also the nation's all-time top goalscorer. Ronaldo has played in and scored at 11 major tournaments; he scored his first international goal at Euro 2004, where he helped Portugal reach the final. He assumed captaincy of the national team in July 2008. In 2015, Ronaldo was named the best Portuguese player of all time by the Portuguese Football Federation. The following year, he led Portugal to their first major tournament title at Euro 2016, and received the Silver Boot as the second-highest goalscorer of the tournament. He also led them to victory in the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2019, and later received the Golden Boot as top scorer of Euro 2020. One of the world's most marketable and famous athletes, Ronaldo was ranked the world's highest-paid athlete by Forbes in 2016 and 2017 and the world's most famous athlete by ESPN from 2016 to 2019. Time included him on their list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2014. He is the first footballer and the third sportsman to earn US$1 billion in his career.
With an HPI of 62.44, Fernando Santos is the 2nd most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.
Fernando Manuel Fernandes da Costa Santos (born 10 October 1954) is a Portuguese professional football manager and former player who played as a defender. He is the manager of the Portugal national team. He amassed Primeira Liga totals of 161 games and two goals over eight seasons, almost always with Estoril. After retiring, he worked as a coach for several decades, starting out at his main club in 1988. Santos managed Portugal's Big Three, winning five major titles with Porto. For the better part of the 2000s he worked in Greece, mainly with AEK Athens and PAOK. In 2010, he was appointed at the helm of the Greece national team, coaching them in a World Cup and one European Championship. Subsequently, he led Portugal to victory in the Euro 2016 and the 2019 Nations League, which were the first two major titles in the nation's history.
With an HPI of 60.55, Luís Figo is the 3rd most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 70 different languages.
Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo OIH (Portuguese pronunciation: [luˈiʃ ˈfiɣu]; born 4 November 1972) is a Portuguese former professional footballer who played as a winger for Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. He won 127 caps for the Portugal national team, a one-time record that has since been bettered by Pepe, Cristiano Ronaldo and João Moutinho. He is considered one of the best Portuguese football players of all time. Renowned for his creativity and ability to get past defenders as a winger, Figo is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. His 106 assists are the second-most in La Liga history, behind Lionel Messi. He won the 2000 Ballon d'Or, 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year, and in 2004 Pelé named him in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. Figo is one of the few football players to have played for both Spanish rival clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid. His controversial transfer in 2000 from Barcelona to bitter rivals Real Madrid set a world record fee of €62 million.Figo had a successful career highlighted by several trophy wins, including the Portuguese Cup, four La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, three Spanish Super Cups, one UEFA Champions League title, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, two UEFA Super Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, four Serie A titles, one Italian Cup and three Italian Super Cups. At international level, he scored 32 goals for Portugal, representing the nation at three European Championships and two World Cups, helping them reach the final but finish as runners-up at Euro 2004.
With an HPI of 60.14, Jorge Jesus is the 4th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.
Jorge Fernando Pinheiro de Jesus (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈʒɔɾʒ(ɨ) ʒɨˈzuʃ]; born 24 July 1954) is a Portuguese professional football manager and former player, who is the current manager of Süper Lig club Fenerbahçe.He started his career with Sporting CP, going on to play for 12 other clubs in 17 years as a professional, which included nine Primeira Liga seasons. Jesus began a coaching career in 1990, and his first stop in the main category was with Felgueiras in the 1995–96 campaign. He went on to work with several teams, arriving at Benfica in 2009 and winning ten trophies (a club record for a single manager, winning all domestic trophies at least once) as well as reaching two UEFA Europa League finals with them in six seasons. He became manager of Flamengo in 2019 and won the Copa Libertadores and Campeonato Brasileiro Série A in his first year. He returned to Benfica in 2020 and did not win a single trophy despite a Portuguese record investment during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was twice considered one of the 10 best club coaches in the world by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics, in 2013 (8th place) and in 2019 (7th place).
With an HPI of 59.06, Rui Costa is the 5th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.
Rui Manuel César Costa OIH (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʁuj ˈkɔʃtɐ]; born 29 March 1972) is a Portuguese former professional footballer who is the 34th president of sports club S.L. Benfica. He also succeeded Luís Filipe Vieira as president of the club's SAD board of directors. Regarded as one of the best midfielders in world football and one of Portugal's best players of all time,    , Costa usually played as an attacking midfielder and was particularly known for his excellent technique, playmaking ability, and eye for goal from midfield. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 as one of the 125 greatest living football players.Nicknamed "The Maestro" and "Il Musagete", Costa spent the majority of his career with Benfica in Portugal and Fiorentina and AC Milan in Italy. In a top-flight career spanning 17 years, he won several trophies, including one Primeira Liga title, one Taça de Portugal, one Serie A title, three Coppa Italia, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Super Cup. A Portuguese international, he amassed 94 caps and scored 26 goals for A Seleção and represented the country in three UEFA European Championships and one FIFA World Cup.
With an HPI of 56.83, Artur Jorge is the 6th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.
Artur Jorge Braga Melo Teixeira (born 13 February 1946), commonly known as Artur Jorge, is a Portuguese football manager and former player, who played as a forward.
With an HPI of 56.52, Ricardo Quaresma is the 7th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 61 different languages.
Ricardo Andrade Quaresma Bernardo (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʁiˈkaɾðu kwɐˈɾɛʒmɐ]; born 26 September 1983) is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a winger. He began his career at Sporting CP and went on to play for Barcelona, Inter Milan, Porto (twice), Chelsea, Beşiktaş (twice), Al-Ahli Dubai, Kasımpaşa and Vitória de Guimarães. Regarded as a mercurial talent, his tricks, including the rabona and trivela (a bending shot with the outside of his right foot) made him a popular figure among fans around the world.A Portugal international for 15 years, Quaresma won 80 caps and played at three European Championships, including the victorious Euro 2016 campaign, and the 2018 World Cup.
With an HPI of 55.63, Félix Mourinho is the 8th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.
José Manuel Mourinho Félix (12 February 1938 – 25 June 2017), known as Félix Mourinho, was a Portuguese football goalkeeper and manager.
With an HPI of 55.31, Paulo Sousa is the 9th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.
Paulo Manuel Carvalho de Sousa, CavIH (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpawlu ˈso(w)zɐ]; born 30 August 1970) is a Portuguese football manager and former professional player who played as a defensive midfielder. Starting his career at Benfica, he also represented Sporting CP in his country, where he amassed Primeira Liga totals of 117 matches and three goals in five years. From there onwards, he competed mainly in Italy and in Germany, winning the Champions League with Juventus and Borussia Dortmund and the Intercontinental Cup with the latter side. His later career was severely hampered by injuries.Sousa was a member of Portugal's "Golden Generation". and appeared with the national team at the 2002 World Cup and two European Championships. He took up coaching in the late 2000s, managing clubs in several countries and winning national championships with Maccabi Tel Aviv and Basel. He was also in charge of Poland at Euro 2020.
With an HPI of 54.43, Paulo Futre is the 10th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.
Paulo Jorge dos Santos Futre (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpawlu ˈfutɾɨ]; born 28 February 1966) is a Portuguese former footballer who played mostly as a left winger. After starting playing for Sporting, he moved to Porto – winning the 1987 European Cup – after which he embarked in an extensive professional career, having represented clubs in Spain, France, Italy, England and Japan, most notably Atlético Madrid. He also appeared for Benfica during four months in 1993, and his later years were blighted by injury problems. A Portuguese international since the age of 17, Futre earned over 40 caps for his country, representing it at the 1986 World Cup.
Pantheon has 184 people classified as soccer players born between 1937 and 2002. Of these 184, 180 (97.83%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Santos, and Luís Figo. The most famous deceased soccer players include Félix Mourinho, José Torres, and Manuel Bento. As of April 2022, 21 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including António Oliveira, Ricardinho, and Nuno Mendes.
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Which Soccer Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 4 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.