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 70.31, Santiago Bernabéu Yeste is the most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 45 different languages on wikipedia.
Santiago Bernabéu de Yeste (Spanish pronunciation: [sanˈtjaɣo βeɾnaˈβew ˈʝeste]; 8 June 1895 – 2 June 1978) was a Spanish footballer who played for Real Madrid as a forward. He is widely regarded one of the most important figures in the history of Real Madrid, having served as its president for 35 years, from 11 September 1943 until his death in 1978.Under Bernabéu's leadership, Real Madrid became a dominant team both on national and international level, with its influence stretching beyond the football pitch. The club's current stadium is named in his honour.
With an HPI of 70.22, Luis Suárez is the 2nd most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.
Luis Suárez Miramontes (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈlwis ˈswaɾeθ miɾaˈmontes]; born 2 May 1935) is a Spanish former footballer and manager. He played as a midfielder for Deportivo de La Coruña, España Industrial, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, Sampdoria and the Spain national team. Suárez is regarded as one of greatest Spanish football players of all time. He was noted for his elegant, fluid, graceful style of play. Nicknamed El Arquitecto - The Architect - he was noted for his perceptive passing and explosive shot, and in 1960, he became the first and only male Spanish-born player to win the Ballon d'Or. In 1964 he helped Spain win the European Championship. Suárez originally achieved prominence as a creative inside forward, or attacking midfielder in modern terms, for the great Barcelona team of the 1950s before he joined Inter Milan where he reached his prime as deep-lying playmaker for the legendary Grande Inter team of the 1960s. He played a pivotal role in the success of Herrera's Inter Milan side, and was one of the primary creative forces in the squad, due to his skill on the ball, vision, and passing range. He retired as a player in 1973, after three seasons at Sampdoria. Suárez subsequently began a career as a coach and has managed Inter Milan on three occasions, the last two on a caretaker basis. Suárez has also coached both Spain U21s and the senior Spain team. He was in charge of the latter for 27 games and led them to the second round of the 1990 World Cup. He has also coached several Italian and Spanish club sides. He is currently a scout for Inter Milan.
With an HPI of 70.07, Francisco Gento is the 3rd most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.
Francisco "Paco" Gento López (21 October 1933 – 18 January 2022) was a Spanish footballer who played as an outside left. He was voted by IFFHS (International Federation of Football History and Statistics) as the greatest Spanish footballer and 30th greatest world footballer of the 20th century.Gento began his career at Racing Santander in 1952 and moved to Real Madrid the following season. He appeared in a joint record eight European Cup finals, winning a record six, as well as winning a record 12 La Liga titles. In a 14-year international career, Gento earned 43 caps for Spain, playing at the World Cup in 1962 and 1966. Following the death of Alfredo Di Stéfano, Gento was appointed the Honorary President of Real Madrid.
With an HPI of 65.91, Ricardo Zamora is the 4th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.
Ricardo Zamora Martínez (Spanish pronunciation: [riˈkaɾðo θaˈmoɾa maɾˈtineθ]; 14 February 1901 – 8 September 1978) was a Spanish footballer and manager. He played as a goalkeeper for, among others, RCD Espanyol, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. As an international he played for both the Catalan XI and Spain. As a manager, he won two La Liga titles with Atlético Aviación and briefly managed Spain. Zamora, nicknamed El Divino, was noted for wearing a cloth cap and a white polo-neck jumper on the field, a look later copied by several of his contemporaries. He claimed it was to protect him from both the sun and his opponents. As a goalkeeper, he was primarily known for his athleticism, quick reflexes, shot-stopping abilities, large frame, and bravery in goal. In 1929 while playing for Spain against England, he carried on playing despite breaking his sternum. Spain won the game 4–3, becoming the first team from outside the British Isles to defeat England. Zamora is also remembered for a spectacular last-minute save he made in the 1936 Copa del Presidente de la República Final while playing for Real Madrid against FC Barcelona. Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation, along with Gianpiero Combi and František Plánička, as well as one of the greatest of all time, in 1999, the IFFHS elected him the best Spanish goalkeeper – as well as the fourth best in Europe and fifth best overall – of the twentieth century; in the same year, he was voted one of the greatest players of the 20th century by World Soccer magazine. The award for the best goalkeeper in La Liga, the Ricardo Zamora Trophy, is named in his honour. Zamora was also Spain's most capped player for 45 years until being surpassed by José Ángel Iribar.Zamora was also the subject of controversy throughout his career. He allegedly enjoyed drinking Cognac and smoking up to three packs of cigarettes a day. During the 1920 Olympic Games he was sent off against Italy after punching an opponent and on the way back from the same tournament he was arrested, imprisoned and fined for attempting to smuggle Havana cigars. In 1922 he was suspended for a year when he lied to the tax authorities about the signing on fee he received when he returned to RCD Espanyol. He also received 40,000 pesetas of the 150,000 peseta fee that took him from Espanyol to Real Madrid.Zamora's ostensible political allegiances were also the subject of debate and controversy. Despite playing regularly for the Catalan XI, he was accused of rejecting Catalan nationalism. In 1934, he was awarded an Order of the Republic medal by his namesake Niceto Alcalá-Zamora, president of the Second Spanish Republic, while during the Spanish Civil War he was exploited by Nationalist propagandists and he played in a benefit game for their cause. During the 1950s he was awarded the Great Cross of the Order of Cisneros by the Franco regime.He died in 1978 and is interred in the Montjuïc Cemetery in Barcelona.
With an HPI of 63.44, Miguel Muñoz is the 5th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.
Miguel Muñoz Mozún (19 January 1922 – 16 July 1990) was a Spanish football player and manager. A midfielder, he spent the majority of his career at Real Madrid before going on to coach the club, where he is widely considered one of the most successful and greatest managers in football history, leading the team to two European Cup victories and nine La Liga titles (winning seven major titles in both major competitions combined as a player). Muñoz later had a six-year coaching spell with the Spain national team, and led them to the final of Euro 1984.
With an HPI of 63.07, Xavi is the 6th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 82 different languages.
Xavier Hernández Creus (born 25 January 1980), known as Xavi, is a Spanish professional football manager and former player who is the manager of La Liga club Barcelona. Widely considered one of the greatest midfielders of all time, Xavi was renowned for his passing, vision, ball retention, and positioning.Xavi joined La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, at age 11, and made his first-team debut against Mallorca in August 1998. In all, he played 767 official matches, a former club record—now held by Lionel Messi—and scored 85 goals. Xavi is the first player in the club's history to play 150 European and FIFA Club World Cup matches combined. With Barcelona, Xavi won eight La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles. Xavi came third in the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year, followed by third place for its successor award, the FIFA Ballon d'Or, in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, he was runner up to Messi for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. In 2015, he departed Barcelona for Al Sadd, where he won four trophies before retiring in 2019. He is one of the few recorded players to have made over 1,000 professional career appearances. With Spain, Xavi won the FIFA World Youth Championship in 1999, and the Olympic silver medal at the 2000 Olympics. After making his senior team debut in 2000, he was capped 133 times for his country, and was an influential figure in the team's successes. He played an integral role in Spain's victory at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as well as their wins at UEFA Euro 2008 and UEFA Euro 2012. He was named Player of the Tournament at UEFA Euro 2008, and was named in the UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament in 2008 and 2012. With two assists in the UEFA Euro 2012 Final, Xavi became the first player to register assists in two separate European finals, after setting up the only goal in the final four years earlier. After the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Xavi announced his retirement from international football.Xavi was awarded the IFFHS World's Best Playmaker award four times, all straight between 2008 and 2011. He was included in the FIFA FIFPro World XI on six occasions: 2008 to 2013, and the UEFA Team of the Year five times: 2008 to 2012. In 2020 Xavi was named in the Ballon d'Or Dream Team, a greatest all-time XI published by France Football magazine. Xavi was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award in 2012, and he won 32 trophies in his career, making him the second-most decorated Spanish player in history, behind former teammate Andrés Iniesta. After retirement, Xavi transitioned to coaching, and he was named the manager at Qatar Stars League club Al Sadd in May 2019, where he won seven titles in less than three years. In November 2021, Xavi was appointed as manager at his former club Barcelona.
With an HPI of 62.08, Carles Puyol is the 7th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 73 different languages.
Carles Puyol Saforcada (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkaɾles puˈjɔl safoɾˈkaða]; born 13 April 1978) is a Spanish former professional footballer who played his entire career for Barcelona. He mainly played as a central defender, but he could also play in either full-back position, mostly as a right-back. Praised for his defensive qualities and leadership, he is widely regarded as one of the best defenders and captains of all time. Puyol's abilities and prowess on the field earned him the nickname of "El Tiburón" ("The Shark") by teammates and fans. He was Barcelona's captain from August 2004 until his retirement in 2014, and appeared in 593 competitive matches for the club. He won 18 major club titles, including six La Liga trophies and three Champions Leagues. Puyol won 100 caps for Spain, and was part of the squads that won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. In the 2010 World Cup semi-final, he scored the only goal of the game against Germany.
With an HPI of 61.69, Andrés Iniesta is the 8th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 90 different languages.
Andrés Iniesta Luján (Spanish pronunciation: [anˈdɾes iˈnjesta luˈxan]; born 11 May 1984) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a midfielder and is the captain of J1 League club Vissel Kobe. Considered one of the greatest midfielders of all time, Iniesta has spent most of his career at Barcelona, where he served as the captain for three seasons. Iniesta came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, after an early migration from his birthplace, and impressed from an early age. He made his first-team debut aged 18 in 2002. He began playing regularly during the 2004–05 season and remained in the team until 2018. Iniesta was an integral part of the Barcelona sides that won two historic trebles in 2009 and 2015, and his 35 trophies, which includes nine La Ligas and four UEFA Champions League titles, make him the most decorated Spanish footballer of all time. After 22 years at Barcelona, Iniesta signed for Japanese club Vissel Kobe in 2018. Iniesta played for Spain at the Under-16, Under-19 and Under-21 levels before making his international debut in 2006. He helped Spain win UEFA Euro 2008, playing every game and being selected in the Team of the Tournament. Iniesta was also a key member of the victorious Spanish team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup; he scored the winning goal in the final against the Netherlands, for which he was named the Man of the Match, and was selected to the tournament's All-Star Team. At UEFA Euro 2012, Iniesta led Spain to their second consecutive continental crown, again being chosen as the Man of the Match of the final against Italy, and was named the Player of the Tournament. Iniesta has been named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI nine times and was chosen in the UEFA Team of the Year on six occasions. He was named in the All-time UEFA Euro XI. He won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award in 2012 and was named the IFFHS World's Best Playmaker in 2012 and 2013. Iniesta was runner-up to Lionel Messi for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or and achieved third place in 2012.
With an HPI of 61.52, Telmo Zarra is the 9th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 34 different languages.
Pedro Telmo Zarraonandía Montoya (20 January 1921 – 23 February 2006), known as Zarra (Basque: [ˈs̻ara], Spanish: [ˈθara]), was a Spanish football forward. He spent the majority of his career at Athletic Bilbao, from 1940 to 1955, for whom he remains the top scorer in competitive matches with 335 goals.Zarra signed for Athletic after playing one season for Erandio. He became a prolific goalscorer in his 15 seasons at the club, winning the Pichichi Trophy as the highest scorer in La Liga on six occasions. During his career, Zarra scored a total of 251 league goals, a Spanish record that lasted nearly six decades before being broken by Lionel Messi. His 81 goals in the Copa del Rey remain a record.Despite his goalscoring records, he only played for Spain 20 times. Even so, he still managed to score 20 goals, including four in one match as Spain beat Switzerland 6–3 on 18 February 1951. He also scored his country's winning goal against England in the 1950 World Cup finals as Spain reached the final four—their best performance in the competition until winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup 60 years later. After leaving Athletic in 1955, he played for one year with SD Indautxu and another with Barakaldo CF before retiring. He died of a heart attack on 24 February 2006, aged 85. The Zarra Trophy for the highest-scoring Spaniard in La Liga is awarded in his memory.
With an HPI of 61.40, Carles Rexach is the 10th most famous Soccer Player. His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.
Carles Rexach Cerdà (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkaɾləz rəˈʃak]; born 13 January 1947) is a Spanish former football winger and manager. His career was mainly associated to Barcelona, spending 44 years at the club as a player (youth levels included) and coach. He formed a successful partnership with Johan Cruyff, both on and off the field, and as a player appeared in 638 games and scored 197 goals, winning the Pichichi Trophy in 1971; he won a combined eight titles both capacities combined, including the La Liga championship in the 1973–74 season and the 1979 Cup Winners' Cup. Rexach appeared for Spain at the 1978 World Cup, earning 15 caps in nine years.
Pantheon has 964 people classified as soccer players born between 1878 and 2004. Of these 964, 847 (87.86%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living soccer players include Luis Suárez, Xavi, and Carles Puyol. The most famous deceased soccer players include Santiago Bernabéu Yeste, Francisco Gento, and Ricardo Zamora. As of April 2022, 101 new soccer players have been added to Pantheon including Juan Santisteban, José Berraondo, and Ramón Guzmán.
1935 - Present
1980 - Present
1978 - Present
1984 - Present
1947 - Present
1970 - Present
1981 - Present
1986 - Present
1981 - Present
1963 - Present
1984 - Present
1950 - Present
1895 - 1978
1933 - 2022
1901 - 1978
1922 - 1990
1921 - 2006
1892 - 1922
1902 - 1972
1924 - 2013
1935 - 2021
1949 - 2018
1912 - 1992
1933 - 2012
1936 - Present
1878 - 1950
1907 - 1954
1883 - 1950
1896 - 1960
1903 - 1990
1926 - 2007
1909 - 1983
1882 - 1967
1907 - 1938
1895 - 1988
1923 - 1996
Which Soccer Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Soccer Players since 1700.