Picking a player as the greatest of all time, in any sport, is a very subjective task with various unquantifiable facets coming into picture. 

However, with the number of goals he has scored and having won every possible trophy he could, Lionel Messi is considered the greatest football player of all time. He finally attained the undisputed GOAT status after Argentina won the FIFA World Cup in Qatar after a frantic final against France. 

The fact that Messi won the Golden Ball by scoring seven goals and assisting three more in the competition, adds to his argument as the greatest footballer ever. 

Top 10 football players of all time

Rank 

Player

Goals 

Trophies

1

Lionel Messi

805

42

2

Pele

767

26

3

Diego Maradona

353

12

4

Cristiano Ronaldo

819

34

5

Johan Cruyff

433

22

6

Zinedine Zidane

156

15

7

Gerd Muller 

718

16

8

Ronaldo Nazario

414

19

9

Alfredo di Stefano

509

27

10

Michel Platini 

353

12

 

#1 Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Emerging from Barcelona’s academy La Masia, Lionel Messi quickly became one of the best players in football, winning his first Ballon d’Or in 2009 at the age of 22. He went on to win seven of them. He won the coveted treble twice with Barcelona and finally ended his wait for a major international trophy with the Copa America 2021 and then added the FIFA World Cup 2022 trophy to his haul, which also includes an Olympic gold medal from Beijing 2008. He is also the only player in history to win two Golden Balls in World Cups (2014 and 2022).

#2 Pele (Brazil)

Three-time World Cup-winner Pele announced his arrival on the global stage with six goals in the 1958 World Cup. Renowned among modern day fans as the first superstar of football, the “Black Pearl” went on to score over 700 goals for club and country, also winning multiple titles with Brazilian club Santos. 

#3 Diego Maradona (Argentina)

Widely rated by multiple fans and experts as one of the greatest attacking players in football, Diego Maradona inspired a generation of footballers with his ball control and trickery. He won the 1986 FIFA World Cup with Argentina, scoring two goals each in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the tournament. He also drove Napoli to the only two league titles they won in their history. 

#4 Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest goal-scorer in football history and won league titles in three different countries - England, Spain and Italy, over the course of his career. He also won five Champions League titles, four of which came during his iconic spell at Real Madrid. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also scored four goals en route to Portugal’s first-ever major trophy, the UEFA Euro 2012. 

#5 Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)

Touted as the pioneer of “Total football”, Johan Cruyff is considered the most influential personality in football history for his contributions as player and manager. Johan Cruyff won three consecutive European Cup titles (currently Champions League) with Ajax, also winning the Ballon d’Or three times. With the Netherlands, he reached the FIFA World Cup finals two times in a row in 1974 and 1978.