Who is / was the best football (soccer) player ever?

Mmm. First time starting a thread, and after searching the archive, could not believe that this has never come up before.

Had a chat with Coldfire in the pit about this, and Marco Van Basten was mentioned. He certainly had the power, but was dogged by injury and IMHO, did not reach his full potential (although he was damn successful anyway).

Georgie Best could run through a brick wall, dribble, shoot and did it all with a swagger. But like Van Basten, didn’t fulfil his true potential (but in this instance because of the pressures he was put under and his penchant for the high life).

Johann Cruyff ::gasp::, he had simply everything - skill, pace, power, vision and he had the poise and grace of a ballerina. To me, he is the reason why we call the game “beautiful”.

BTW Coldie, the 1988 Euro semi-final was good, but the quarter final of Euro 96 was better :wink:

Lion Killer

Best player ever: Pele
Best recent player: Gheorghe Hagi (okay, so he’s not so hot now)
Best player I’ve actually seen play: Phil Wingfield (then Farnborough Town, now Kingstonian)

tell me why they were / are so great

Why Pele? Because he had an unrivalled combination of power, skill and attitude. Gary Lineker had the right attitude (unlike, say, David Beckham or even Gheorghe Hagi); plenty of players have been powerful (hell, Iain Dowie for a start) and plenty have been skillful (Steve McManaman on his day) – but Pele managed to combine all three strengths and apply them consistently.

Why Gheorghe Hagi? I just love his skill on the ball – unpredictability is sadly missing from most teams in Europe currently, in my opinion. David Beckham is a one-trick pony; a fantastic dead-ball crosser on the right, but an average midfielder elsewhere. The nearest rival I can think of currently is Roy Keane (for his drive, energy, inspirational skills and recently-tempered attitude).

Why Phil Wingfield? I can’t count the number of times I saw him destroy a non-league side and leave the opposing full-back looking dazed. He’s a left winger with ball skills in the Rick Holden-style.

Norman “Chopper” Harris.

Grace of a gazelle, Tackle that could stop Fatty Arbuckle on a rampage.
Grown Men were AFRAID to tackle him.
My vote would be for Robin Friday. The Greatest Footballer you never saw.

In my opinion, the best player in the world today is France and Juventus midfielder Zinadine Zidane. Nobody beats him for a combination of skill, intelligence and creativity.


The man was was to football what Mozart was to music, what Da Vinci was to art, what… I mean, he surpasses superlatives. He created what football became. Let the others fight for second place.

In the past:

Pele-a great athlete with amazing skills. The best player on the best national team ever(1970 Brazil). The only knocks against him are that he didn’t play in Europe, had great teammates on the national team, and defenses weren’t nearly as formidable in his day.

Di Stefano-way before my era. One heckuva goalscorer. It’s hard to argue with 5 European Cups.

Beckenbauer-practically invented the sweeper position as we know it today. Probably the best defender ever.

Maradona-won WC '86 with a relatively bad team. Transformed Napoli into a Serie A powerhouse. Not exactly a role model off the field or an ideal of sportsmanship.

Best-an incredible talent who was hampered by a lousy national team(North Ireland) and a serious drinking problem. Probably the only San Jose Earthquakes player to stop off at the bar before a game, head over to the stadium, then return to the bar for a few more rounds after playing. The NASL goal he scored by completely embarrassing about six defenders is stupendous.


Zidane-the best player on a WC and European Championship winning squad. I think he’s overrated and often plays badly in important games.

Batistuta-probably the best pure goalscorer in the world. Great with his head and feet. Has scored reliably for the best decade in the world’s toughest league(Serie A).

Ronaldo-currently injured. If he can keep his knees from falling apart, he will be incredible. Great pace, excellent dribbling ability, could be the catalyst on a national team that can’t seem to play up to its potential.

Can I just put in Gaizka Mendieta’s name for consideration as best current player. Such class. Such creativity. Such a joy to watch. I get all googly-eyed and fawning talking about Valencia in general (in their Champions League campaigns of the last two seasons, they’ve demonstrated everything I love about football), but it’s Mendieta in particular who stands out.