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03rd Jan 2023

The 10 best footballers of all time* have been revealed

Patrick McCarry

10 best footballers

*According to some sage footballing heads

Ahead of the World Cup, the scribes at FourFourTwo were tasked with coming together and (eventually) agreeing on a Top 100 of footballing superstars. They did just that, and their 10 best footballers created some debate.

As it now turns out, a bold call made back in November 2022 has now been backed up.

Before he had lifted the World Cup, after a thrilling final victory over France, Lionel Messi was getting major kudos. He was listed ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who had a World Cup to forget, with Diego Maradonna the brilliant buffer.

10 best footballersLionel Messi of Argentina celebrates with teammate Emiliano Martinez, at Lusail Stadium, Qatar. (Photo by Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi claims his greatest prize

At the 2022 World Cup, Lionel Messi certainly proved he deserved a place high, high up in the top 10 best footballers of all time. He made a strong case to sit atop the pile.

He scored seven goals, had three assists and ranked highly in a host of other big areas of the game. He also scored in two penalty shootouts as Argentina ended a 36-year wait for World Cup glory.

Kylian Mbappé scored a hat-trick in that final, and finished with the golden boot after netting eight World Cup goals. Perhaps the only part of that Top 100 list is that the young France striker does not feature at all.

He may only be 24, but Mbappé World Cup form, his 36 international goals and 218 club goals (in just over 300 games) should see him make any revised list of footballing greats.

The 10 best footballers of all time (10-6)

10. ⁠Ronaldo Nazario (Brazil)
9. ⁠Ferenc Puskas (Hungary)
8. ⁠Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
7. ⁠George Best (Northern Ireland)
6. ⁠Johan Cruyff (The Netherlands)

10 best footballersF.C. Barcelona in 1977. Johan Cruyff. (Photo by Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images)

The 10 best footballers of all time (5-1)

5. ⁠Zinedine Zidane
4. ⁠Pele
3. ⁠Cristiano Ronaldo
2. ⁠Diego Maradona
1. ⁠Lionel Messi

Presciently, the exhaustive list ends with this, on their No.1 pick – ‘Yet Messi is not finished. A World Cup next month presents another shot at glory with Argentina. His legs slower but his mind still sharp.’ So it proved in Qatar as Messi rolled back the years.

There are no Republic of Ireland footballers listed in the publication’s Top 100, which will rankle some.

Other notables in the Top 50 include Bobby Charlton (16), Marco van Basten (22), Ronaldinho (26), Gianluigi Buffon (45) and Thierry Henry (49).

Lower down the list, we find Denis Law (66), Dennis Bergkamp (68), Eric Cantona (74), Luka Modric (79), Wayne Rooney (84) and former world footballer of the year, Kaka sneaking in at No.98.

You can check out that full list here.

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