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When the topic ‘Best soccer player’ is discussed, some names will always be there. Those names earned such reputation due to their glorious performances, long successful careers, titles won and entertainment they presented to millions of people around the world.
But what makes a player the best? Is it consistency? Is it trophies won with the club and national team? Or maybe it is popularity on and off the pitch. Regardless of standards, this will always be a fun discussion.
The best or G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time) is a term used loosely in modern soccer. Long debates and sheets of statistics were not enough to give a verdict, on who is the best. The point here is that each person has his own precise understanding of greatness. I, personally, think that there is a threshold for greatness and anything above that is more of a personal preference. That said, it is hard to convey this preference to another person with, apparently, a different opinion.
Over time our ability to watch more sports events has increased drastically. Thanks to technology, it has become much easier to follow live matches, results, highlights, and news. Even behind-the-scenes footage attracts a lot of viewers and young talents who cannot resist peeking inside the world they dream of being part of.
With this kind of exposure and rising interest in day-to-day action, we were introduced to many new names from different countries. We might not know much about such players, but as fans of the sport we, surely, admire their game and enjoy learning more about them.
In this article, I will list the best soccer players by country, from every country that has ever participated in a FIFA World Cup before. This list will have names you agree with and names you disagree with, but this is expected. What is more interesting here is that you will be introduced to names, and possibly countries, you have not heard about before. Players who have blessed soccer fans with memorable scenes and claimed a special place in their homeland soccer history books. Although I have not watched all of them play live, I tried my best to be inclusive. So, let us jump right into it.
Best Soccer Players by Country
Best Soccer Player from Algeria – Rabah Madjer
Helping his nation reach their first-ever World Cup in 1982, the Algerian striker was a pillar for his national team for 19 years. Scoring against Germany in the 1982 world cup was his most famous moment, but his fame was beyond Algeria. Madjer’s fantastic spell with Portuguese giant club Porto saw him score 50 goals in 108 appearances and lift nine trophies in six years.
Best Soccer Player from Angola – Flavio Amado Da Silva
Surely, Al Ahly SC had no idea that signing this pint-sized striker will have a massive impact on the club. Ironically, club management was considering his release after scoring just one goal in his first season in the Egyptian league. But this poor number was quickly forgotten the season after in which he scored 26 goals and assisted 9 in all competitions, setting his club up for a bronze medal in the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup. His brilliant performance and 16 titles with Al Ahly proved reliable with the national team as well. In 81 caps he scored 34 goals including Angola’s only goal in the 2006 World cup.
Best Soccer Player from Argentina – Diego Maradona
Why Maradona over Messi? Two simple reasons form the answer to this head-scratcher. World Cup success and shining in different leagues. While Messi has consistency on his side, failing to win a World Cup and sustaining his mega-star status in Paris tarnished his undisputed alien image. Diego’s charisma and exquisite performance in the 1986 World Cup gave chills to every soccer fan around the world. Leo’s one-of-a-kind talent and list of broken records are a debate for sure, but I will give this one to the late “El Pibe de Oro” because, with a shoestring budget, he invented everything Messi excelled at.
Best Soccer Player from Australia – Mark Viduka
I initially thought I will pick Tim Cahill for the international excellence, but Viduka’s accolades tipped the scale for the Croatian descendant. Mark has topped podiums in every country he played in, with England being the only exception. But this doesn’t mean that his 92 goals in 239 appearances in English Premier League hold no weight.
Best Soccer Player from Austria – David Alaba
It is uncommon to see a player who played most of his career as a left-back being nominated for such titles. In Alaba’s case, he has been rock-solid since the age of 18. A staggering 30 club titles, including 3 UEFA Champions League titles, made it hard for other players to stand a chance against the resilient defender.
Best Soccer Player from Belgium – Eden Hazard
The 2018 World Cup was, by far, the best performance for the Red Devils on the big stage. We can name a few players who primed during this campaign, but the flamboyant captain was on another level. Notably, he had 10 successful dribbles (100% success rate) and was named the second-best player of the tournament. If there is a name that can challenge Eden’s throne, it’s Kevin De Bruyne. Another member of Belgium’s best generation and following Hazard’s footsteps in the English Premier League.
Best Soccer Player from Bolivia – Marcelo Martins
Most stories of ‘wonder kids’ end before they prove right, but Marcelo lived up to the hype. He has a passion for scoring goals, and it was well displayed in his success on three different continents. 30 goals with La Verde crowned him the all-time top scorer of the Bolivian national team.
Best Soccer Player from Bosnia and Herzegovina – Hasan Salihamidžić
Having played most of his career in Germany’s Bundesliga, Brazzo (a nickname meaning little brother) has put this new country on soccer’s map. In Bayern Munich’s jersey, he has won every possible title in Germany and is still considered a club legend today. The love and appreciation are mutual as he decided to settle in Munich after hanging his boots and is now appointed club director for the German giant.
Best Soccer Player from Rrazil – Ronaldo Luis Nazario De Lima
This choice will have many Pele fans frowning. O Fenômeno or ‘The Phenomenon’ has checked all the boxes of soccer skills at a very early age. Speed, technique, ball control, finishing skills, and power turned his performance into a joy the whole world looked forward to watching week in and week out. R9 recurring knee injuries couldn’t stop him from winning every available trophy on the planet with Seleção. The three times Best FIFA Men’s Player and Two times Ballon D’Or winner could have raised the bar higher, if it wasn’t for his series of unfortunate injuries. Brazil is the world’s most fertile soil in the soccer world. Thus, we must salute the following legends: Pele, Zico, Ronaldinho, Romario, Garrincha, Dani Alves and Kaka.
Best Soccer Player from Bulgaria – Hristo Stoichkov
El Pistolero was a staple in Cruyff’s dream team at Barcelona during the 1990s. His list of honors includes Ballon D’Or, European Golden Shoe, and FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe. Armed with a strong physique and a lethal left foot, he carried his nation’s hope for a medal in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Unfortunately, his six goals were not enough to earn silverware for Bulgaria as they finished fourth.
Best Soccer Player from Cameroon – Samuel Eto’o
One of the very few African players to rock the international stage for long and secure a spot in a tremendous club like Barcelona during the golden era. Samuel is known for his well-rounded skill set. Whether it’s right foot, left foot, or header, give the Cameroonian baby face half a chance and he will score it. His sharp comments and personal feud with Guardiola cost him his seat in Barca’s dressing room, but his next stop at Inter Milan was nothing short of success. 29 individual and team titles were more than enough to place Eto’o above the legendary Roger Milla on the list.
Best Soccer Player from Canada – Julian de Guzman
Julian is Canada’s most capped player. He was the first Canadian to play in Spanish La Liga where he played for Deportivo La Coruna and was voted player of the year 2007. Nevertheless, he must sit tight as rising star Alphonso Davies is certainly a potential threat to his throne.
Best Soccer Player from Chile – Alexis Sanchez
Despite getting complacent shortly after reaching glory, Alexis decorated resume tops legends like Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano. He holds the record for most caps and all-time top scorer with Chilian national team. At club level, he represented top clubs and was always feared by defenders due to his electrical pace and magical touches.
Best Soccer Player from China – Lei Wu
Many European clubs would think twice before signing a Chinese player, but the lack of traffic from the Chinese League to European soccer was not a concern for Spanish club Espanyol and they decided to sign Wu in 2019. Lei made headlines when he became the youngest player to feature in the Chinese League at just 14 years old. It took him around 2 years to score his first goal and break another record – The youngest goal scorer.
Best Soccer Player from Columbia – Carlos Valderrama
Valderrama’s rich palette consists of ball control, leadership, work rate, and fabulous hairstyle. His 111 appearances for the national team engraved his name as Columbia’s finest. He is considered one of the best players in southern America in the late 80s and early 90s. Carlos was awarded Southern American Player of The Year three times and was included in the top 100 players of the 20th century.
Best Soccer Player from Costa Rica – Alejandro Morera
It’s been almost a century since the ‘Costa Rican Phenomenon’ had everybody dumbfounded after scoring 63 goals in 76 games for Barcelona. This legend was not given a chance to show his full potential due to the Spanish Civil War. He was forced back home, where he continued to win titles and solidify his status as Costa Rica’s king of soccer.
Best Soccer Player from Croatia – Luka Modric
Ever since Croatia declared independence, the central European nation has been looking for a new hero. Luka’s talent was hard to miss from the get-go. Earning his national debut at 20 years old, the ‘Balkan Cruyff’ is now Croatia’s most capped of all time. His calm and composed style of play has made him a household name wherever he tied his laces. 2018 was by far the best year in his career. Podium after podium, the Croatian veteran was honored as The Best FIFA Men’s Player, UEFA Best Player in Europe, Ballon D’Or, FIFA Club World Cup winner, UEFA Champions League Winner, Spanish Super Cup winner, UEFA Super Cup winner, FIFA World Cup Runner-Up. Indeed, very impressive year for little Luka.
Best Soccer Player from Cuba – Yenier Marquez
In 1938 Cuba had its first, and only, big stage participation in the World Cup. With most players showcasing in the local league and MLS, Yenier has been the outlier in Cuban soccer. Not only does he top the list of international appearances, but he also comes second on the list of top scorers. Apparently, this fierce defender can excel on both ends of the pitch.
Best Soccer Player from Czech Republic – Pavel Nedved
A whopping 19-year career decorated with accolades proved Pavel a key member wherever he landed. Nicknamed ‘Czech Cannon’ due to four batteries at the back and the ability to excel with both feet, coaches deployed him in all positions in midfield. Nedved represented his country 91 times and is still considered one the most successful foreigners to play in Italy Seria A. Another Czech name we must salute here is Petr Cech who is viewed as an equally successful Czech player.
Best Soccer Player from Denmark – Peter Schmeichel
‘The Great Dane’ is a common name on every list with the word ‘best’ in its title. In 1991 when he joined Manchester United, Peter had the burden of proof laid on him after leaving Danish league for the first time. Years later, his numbers spoke volumes and blew any doubt into thin air. 42% of the times opponents faced off with the Danish legend, they couldn’t get past him. Today, Kasper, his son, continues his father’s saga and keeps the family name ringing in English Premier League.
Best Soccer Player from Ecuador – Alberto Pedro Spencer
A great striker who was never featured in a World Cup or European soccer. Spencer still maintains the South American club record in Copa Libertadores, with his tally of 54 goals between 1960 and 1972, playing for Everest of Guayaquil, Barcelona of Guayaquil, and Peñarol. The Ecuadorian hitman ranked 20th South America Player of the Century in 2004 thanks to 450 goals under his belt.
Best Soccer Player from Egypt – Mohamed Salah
Anfield fan’s favorite and cornerstone to Liverpool’s new era, Mo is labeled ‘underrated’ by many. After his short stint with Chelsea under Mourinho, the Egyptian king was determined to show his true colors at Liverpool. His lowkey attitude and dedication helped him smash records, decide games and inspire a generation of young players. I will need a separate article to list his honors and records but google that and you will understand why he is massively underrated, especially for a winger.
Best Soccer Player from El Salvador – Jorge Alberto González
This pick wasn’t the hardest. Jorge’s magic on the pitch is far beyond competition in El Salvador. His off-the-pitch behaviors and habits were his first enemy though. From nightlife to bad sleeping habits, El Magico couldn’t qualify as the first choice for top-tier clubs although they explicitly appreciated his wonderful skills.
Best Soccer Player from England – Bobby Charlton
The land where the beautiful game emerged has only one World Cup title and guess who brought it home… Great Bobby! He almost never represented his country, if soccer guardian angels weren’t looking over him in ‘Munich Air Disaster’. A tragedy that resulted in 23 deaths, all affiliated with Bobby’s club Manchester United. Notably, Charlton comes 12th on World Soccer’s list of The Greatest Players of the 20th Century.
Best Soccer Player from Ethiopia – Getaneh Kebede
A striker who is the top-scorer for the national team and second most-capped had to claim this. Getaneh is still active today and has a few good years of soccer in him. Chances are he will clear any confusion and become the most-capped player in Ethiopia’s history.
Best Soccer Player from France – Zinedine Zidane
‘Merci Zizou’ projected on l’Arc de Triomphe is the message millions of French people wanted to send Zidane after his majestic brace in the 1998 World Cup final. The night Zizou took over Platini’s throne saw Les Bleus lift their first ever World cup after beating Brazil’s intimidating team in Stade de France 3-0. Zidane’s success in the soccer world is hard to squeeze into a few sentences, especially since he has won every possible trophy as a player and continues to entertain us from the sidelines today.
Best Soccer Player from Germany – Franz Beckenbauer
Nicknamed ‘Mannschaft- crew members of the ship’, it’s quite clear why teamwork and discipline were keys behind German soccer success. Franz is the leading example of this notion. A long list of honors with Bayern Munich and the national team made the legendary defender the first choice for best German player of all time. Honorable mentions: Gerd Muller, Lothar Matthaus, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Miroslav Klose and Sepp Maier.
Best Soccer Player from Ghana – Abedi Ayew
Commonly known as Abedi Pele due to similarities in the style of play with the Brazilian legend, Abedi’s success in French Ligue 1 and UEFA Champions League is thought to be the reason European scouts paid closer attention to Ghanian talents. In the following years, names like Essien, Kuffour, and Asamoah are grateful for that.
Best Soccer Player from Greece – Theodoros Zagorakis
Theodoros was the man who captained Greece in their fairy tale success at EURO 2004. Not even Greek fans dared to place their national team as a top candidate before the tournament kicked off. Zagorakis
and co decided to take the bull by the horn and kept pushing until it’s become reality. 120 caps fueled by dedication, passion, and hard work made him a blueprint for all young Greek talents.
Best Soccer Player from Haiti – Emmanuel Sanon
Manno represented hope for the Central American team in its first, and only, FIFA World Cup feature back in 1974. He did live up to expectations and scored two goals in a tough group against Italy and Argentina. Manno’s historical goal against Italy had a bitter taste for Italy’s icon Dino Zoff. A left-foot shot was behind shaking Zoff’s net for the first time after 1,142 minutes of world-class keeping.
Best Soccer Player from Honduras – Carlos Pavon
Not many will argue that Carlos is the best Honduran player ever. His tally of 58 goals for the national team associated his name with celebrations. Respect for Pavon doubled up after knowing he played the 2010 World Cup through hernia pain. This injury practically ended his respected soccer career.
Best Soccer Player from Hungary – Ferenc Puskás
I, personally, don’t know a player with a better scoring record. Puskas scored 703 goals in his 707 appearances career. In simple words, every time Ferenc laced up, it was ‘sure’ he will score at least once. The same ratio goes for his record with the Mighty Magyars, 84 goals in 85 caps. Today, The Best Goal of The Year award is named after him. A prestigious award named after a prestigious goal scorer.
Best Soccer Player from Iceland – Eidur Gudjohnsen
Eidur is the son of Arnor Gudjohnsen. Father Gudjohnsen, literally, passed the torch to son Gudjohnsen in 1996 when Eidur made his international debut coming in as a substitute to replace his old man. A story that saw closure 20 years later. Known for his physical strength and fearless attitude, Eidur was a perfect fit for Chelsea’s evolutionary era 2000-2006. His contribution in London earned him a move to Barcelona where he shared the pitch with Messi and co. Gudjohnsen played 588 games for the national team and clubs combined, in which he scored 140 goals.
Best Soccer Player from Iran – Ali Daei
The Persian beast is a strong contestant for the best of all time, not just in his homeland, but all over Asia. His prolific 149 games run with the national team tallied a whopping 109 goals. A record proved hard to beat until Cristiano Ronaldo nailed it in 2021.
Best Soccer Player from Iraq – Hussein Saeed
Saeed is 14th on the list of top goal scorers in international soccer and Iraq’s best with 61 goals in 126 matches. He is also considered the icon of golden generation of Iraqi soccer which qualified for the 1986 World Cup.
Best Soccer Player from Ireland – Roy Keane
While most remember him for on-field aggressive tackles and hitting under the belt, Roy is arguably one of the best midfielders in English Premier League history. A bit of brake on his fierce personality would have boosted his career further in my opinion.
Best Soccer Player from Israel – Yossi Benayoun
Possibly, the first name to come up when we think of Israeli players in European soccer. Yossi is also Israel’s most capped player. The 2012-13 UEFA Europa League winner wore his national jersey on 102 occasions in 20 years.
Best Soccer Player from Italy – Roberto Baggio
Despite being a true charm, the ‘Devine Ponytail’ needed to score that final penalty in the 1994 World Cup final against Brazil to check the box of ‘undisputable best’. The way he scored goals and dribbled was often described as ‘closer to a Picasso painting than anything else’. After his fellow Italian legend Paolo Rossi, only Roberto’s explosive talent qualified for the title ‘The best’ Not an easy task when names like Del Piero, Maldini, Baresi, Totti, Pirlo, Cannavaro, and Buffon are in the mix.
Best Soccer Player from Ivory Coast – Didier Drogba
The epitome of attacking line bravado. Didier is cheered by Chelsea fans like no other. The Ivorian elephant arrived at Stanford bridge and got to the thick of things immediately. His first season tallied an impressive 16 goals for the blues in all competitions. On the national side of his career, Didier is Ivory Coast’s historical captain and goal scorer. He is also widely viewed as one of the best players to evolve from Africa.
Best Soccer Player from Jamaica – Luton Shelton
The sunny island’s all-time leading goal scorer, striking 35 times in 75 caps for the Reggae Boyz. At the club level, Shelton scored 85 goals in over 200 professional games in various countries winning 6 titles at the club and national team levels.
Best Soccer Player from Japan – Shinji Kagawa
Kagawa’s talent presented itself vividly in Japan, having helped Cerezo Osaka return to the J League by plundering 27 league goals in 2009. Since making his senior international debut in May 2008, he has won over 90 caps and scored over 30 goals. On 29 November 2012, Kagawa was named Asian soccer Confederation International Player of the Year after he showed his true colors with Borussia Dortmund in different competitions.
If you want more info – check out list of best Japanese soccer players.
Best Soccer Player from Kuwait – Bader Al-Mutawa
The tiny state did not produce many globally recognized names. Nevertheless, Bader made headlines when he became the most capped active international male player, having made 192 appearances for Kuwait national team with 56 goals to his name.
Best Soccer Player from Mexico – Hugo Sanchez
Sánchez was fast, strong, and knew where he needed to be in the exact moment. His accuracy and fierceness were key to his success. He held the Real Madrid record for most goals scored in one season (38) for 21 years, including his famous bicycle kick. He tops the IFFHS Best Footballer list of both Mexico and CONCACAF of the 20th century.
Best Soccer Player from Morocco – Noureddine Naybet
Known for solid defending and leadership, Naybet played a record 115 matches for the Moroccan national team scoring four goals, representing the country in two World Cups and six Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. He is widely accepted as one of the best defenders from Africa.
Best Soccer Player from The Netherlands – Johan Cruyff
Everything about Johan’s game is classy and eloquent. The three times Ballon D’Or winner is one of the most influential figures in soccer history. His mystique performance on the field was succeeded by revolutionary tactics as a manager. Thanks to such ideas, Catalan giant Barcelona appointed him to start a project that proved fruitful over the years.
Best Soccer Player from New Zealand – Wynton Rufer
A, relatively, small number of 23 matches with the Kiwi national team can pour doubts on my choice. But look at Wynton’s club record and you might end up agreeing. Rufer spent more than a decade of his professional career in Switzerland and Germany, achieving his greatest success at Werder Bremen, where he won a total of four major titles and finished as the top scorer in the UEFA Champions League 1993–94.
Best Soccer Player from Nigeria – Jay- Jay Okocha
‘The wizard’ is his nickname and his skills are nothing short of wizardry. A quick search for his highlights will present to you enough evidence why Jay Jay tops the list of Nigeria – the country which has exported the biggest number of African players to international soccer. Due to his skill, he was described as ‘so good that they named him twice’ by Bolton Wanderers fans. Slick!
Best Soccer Player from North Korea – Myong-guk Ri
One of few Northern Koreans to play in Europe. Scored 25 goals in 74 caps with the North Korean national team and is still active today. He has a mountain of 44 caps to climb to become the most capped Northern Korean player in history. A milestone that will compliment his ‘all-time top scorer’ record.
Best Soccer Player from Northern Ireland – George Best
“Maradona good, Pele better, George Best” is a pun, certainly, intended by Manchester United fans. The reckless Belfast prodigy was trouble for defenders on the pitch and his own fans off the pitch. A long history of alcoholism made it difficult for his fans to defend his acts outside a soccer match. This bad habit eventually disallowed us the full potential of this unique talent. Best scored 179 goals for Manchester United and I believe he had what’s needed to reach further if it wasn’t for his persona.
Best Soccer Player from Norway – Ole Solskjaer
The best of Norway has played 366 times for Manchester United and scored 126 goals during a successful period for the club. Labeled a ‘Super Sub’ and ‘Baby Face Assassin’ Ole was famous for coming off the bench to score decisive late goals. The UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich is a great example of why Sir Alex Ferguson felt confident using him whenever a finisher was desperately needed.
You could also argue that Erling Haaland will be the top player from Norway by the time he’s all done.
Best Soccer Player from Panama – Julio Dely Valdés
After successful two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, Dely made a move to La Liga side Real Oviedo, but it was Malaga where he wrote history as All-Time Top Scorer for the club in addition to his 18 goal bag, he presented Panama in 44 caps.
Best Soccer Player from Paraguay – José Luis Chilavert
The left-footed shot stopper was famous for his goals. Yes, you read it correctly. Undoubtedly, he was a top-tier set pieces specialist, but make no mistake his goalkeeping skills were impeccable as well. In addition to his 54 career goals, his list of individual honors includes IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper: 1995, 1997, 1998 and World Soccer: The 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time. El Buldog (his nickname) was not a role model majority of time though. He was so furious he dared to throw punches at soccer god Maradona and Columbian superstar Asprilla.
Best Soccer Player from Peru – Teófilo Cubillas
Over 300 career goals and a big impact in the 1970 World cup tipped the scale for El Nene. He was characterized as an attacking midfielder gifted with exquisite technique, power, change of pace, dribbling ability, and great goalscoring skills. Claudio Pizzaro was the player who came closest to snatching Teofilo’s crown after a dazzling 21-year-long career in Europe.
Best Soccer Player from Poland – Robert Lewandovski
A poacher who is never tired of scoring goals and possibly the closest we have today to a classic number 9 striker. This goal-scoring machine has netted over 600 goals for clubs and the Polish national team. With a long list of honors, Lewa was an easy pick. Notably, he is widely considered one of the best forwards in history.
Best Soccer Player from Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo
The most popular athlete in the history of mankind is a common name in every ‘best’ category. CR7 has an insatiable appetite for smashing records. His journey in soccer has inspired millions of young players around the world including some of today’s mega stars. His list of 32 trophies and 29 individual honors made Cristiano his own competition. Equipped with perseverance and unmatchable work ethics, He has set the blueprint for every kid dreaming of glory in soccer. From a small island in Portugal to becoming a soccer icon and tremendous global brand, no one can argue the stature of Ronaldo and his contribution to modern-day soccer.
Best Soccer Player from Romania – Georgio Haggi
He was nicknamed ‘The Maradona of the Carpathians’ for a reason. Haggi was a creative advanced playmaker renowned for his dribbling, technique, vision, passing, and shooting. Playing for rivals is not a move well-received by fans, But Georgio’s performance forced Barcelona management to sign him two years after a successful stint with Real Madrid. He went on to win Spanish Super Cup with the Catalan team and engrave his name as one of the best players in his generation.
Best Soccer Player from Russia – Lev Yashin
Yashin was known for his leading vocal presence under woodwork, impressive flexibility, and coming out of his den to meet onrushing strikers. Having played for Dynamo Moscow all his career, Lev’s chance to
show the world his level came around the 1958 World cup in Sweden, but it was 1963 when he became the only goalkeeper to win a Ballon D’Or award.
Best Soccer Player from South Korea – Park Ji Song
Song’s unprecedented achievements include being the first Asian soccer player to win the UEFA Champions League, to play in a UEFA Champions League final, as well as the first Asian to win the FIFA Club World Cup. ‘Three Lungs’ Park was able to play in all midfield roles equally excellently. Such honors made him not only South Korea’s best player but also widely accepted as Asia’s best player.
Best Soccer Player from Saudi Arabia – Sami Al-Jaber
Al Jaber is Saudi Arabia’s second highest international goal scorer from 1992 to 2006. He appeared in four consecutive FIFA World Cup tournaments, from 1994 to 2006, scoring in three of them. won 163 international caps and scored 46 goals for the Kingdom in a two-decade career, before retiring in 2008. A respected and celebrated striker in both Saudi Arabia and Asia.
Best Soccer Player from Scotland – Kenny Dalglish
Scotland’s finest tops the list of national team appearances and shares the top scorer title with Denis Law. A good dribbler with fantastic movement, Dalglish was also clinical with both feet regardless of his distance from the opposition goal. The Liverpool icon comes 7th on the club’s glorious top scorers list.
Best Soccer Player from Senegal – Henri Camara/Sadio Mane
Two lions of Teranga will have to share this one. I’m sure veteran Camara is proudly watching Sadio lead the national team to the world stage. Although, he might be worried that Mane’s fantastic steady performance in Europe is threatening a stack of records he wrote during his prime time in the early 2000s. Sadio Mane has some time before he hears the final whistle, but chances are, in my opinion, he will surpass legend Camara.
Best Soccer Player from Slovakia – Marek Hamšík
A talented, elegant, and technically gifted advanced playmaker, in addition to his soccer skills, he is also known for his leadership and stamina. Marek captained Slovak national team in their first ever World Cup appearance in 2010, round of 16 was the furthest they could reach after defeating the reigning champions, Italy. Marek was a reliable choice for Slovakia on 135 occasions and had fans celebrating his goals 26 times.
Best Soccer Player from Slovenia – Jan Oblak
Oblak learned a trick or two from Samir Handanovic. Until the year 2014 Oblak was just a player with perspective, while Samir was the proven hero. Then Jan moved from Benfica to Atletico de Madrid where he exploded and became one of the world’s best goalkeepers. Season after season, Jan erased any hope for another Slovenian player to be named the best in the Balkan state.
Best Soccer Player from South Africa – Benni McCarthy
The Bafana Bafana spearhead is the only South African player to have ever won the European Cup/Champions League. A shock in 2010 following his no call for the national team to represent the country in the World Cup on home soil left people questioning if he deserves this title. But until another player scores more goals for South Africa, Benni will be the choice for me.
Best Soccer Player from Spain – Xavi Hernandez
Xavi’s prowess on a soccer field paired with Iniesta’s magic gave Barcelona and Spain what’s needed for complete dominance. He was the midfielder every coach wishes for. In 865 professional senior matches, it was a rare occasion to see Xavi lose the ball under pressure or fail to pass to a teammate. A level of skill that resulted in a cabinet overstuffed with elite trophies including the World cup, two European Championships, two UEFA Champions League, and eight La Liga titles.
Best Soccer Player from Sweden – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Give him a ball or a microphone and entertainment is guaranteed. Ibra is famous for goal scoring, throwing punches after the bell, and best press interviews ever. His unique talent and character put him up there with the greats. No other player has the transfer record of Zlatan, he played for Europe’s biggest clubs and won titles with each one of them. The total sum of his transfer fees is a staggering 169 million euros.
Best Soccer Player from Switzerland – Stephane Chapuisat
Much of Stephane’s club career was spent with Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped during a golden period of their history. The team won back-to-back league titles and then followed that up with success in the Champions League in 1996-97. In all, he scored more than 250 league goals throughout his career. Individually, the striker was named the Swiss Footballer of the Year on four occasions, the Swiss FA also named him their most outstanding player of the previous 50 years.
Best Soccer Player from Togo – Emmanuel Adebayor
Adebayor was given the nickname “Baby Kanu” due to his resemblance to former Arsenal star Nwankwo Kanu, whom he had idolized as a youth. 32 goals for the Togolese national team made him the country’s top scorer to date. After some young age out of balance behaviors, Emmanuel matured, and it was reflected in his performance. He represented big clubs the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid, and Tottenham Hotspurs.
Best Soccer Player from Trinidad and Tobago – Dwight Yorke
One more Manchester United icon. Yorke is thought to be the best Trinidad and Tobago player and the best Caribbean player. He has scored 123 goals in the English Premier League, a record for a non- European which was not broken until Sergio Agüero in 2017.
Best Soccer Player from Tunisia – Tarek Dhiab
Tarek was named African Footballer of the Year in 1977 for his top play for the Tunisian national team helping them qualify for the 1978 FIFA World Cup where they became the first African team ever in the history of World Cup to have won a match in the competition by beating Mexico 3-1. Dhiab scored 148 goals for the only two clubs he represented during his career, a number only a few midfielders in history can claim.
Best Soccer Player from Turkey – Hakan Şükür
Turkey’s best is renowned for his instinctive movement, elite heading ability, and composure from the penalty spot. Hakan is the Turkish Football League/Super Lig all-time top scorer with 249 goals. Nicknamed The Bull of the Bosphorus, he captained the Turkish national team during their historical 2002 World Cup participation in which he scored the fastest goal in World Cup history and helped the Crescent-Stars secure their first ever bronze medal.
Best Soccer Player from Ukraine – Andriy Shevchenko
The spearhead for AC Milan’s dream team who damaged Inter Milan’s net 14 times in the city’s furious derby. One of the best strikers in history, undoubtedly. Following an ecstatic season in 2003 decorated with a Champions League title, Andriy became the third Ukrainian player to win the Ballon D’Or award in 2004. Furthermore, he is the all-time top scorer for the Ukrainian national team with 48 goals.
Best Soccer Player from United Arab Emirates – Adnan Al Talyani
Acknowledged by every soccer pundit of his era as the catalyst behind the country’s one trip to the World Cup, in 1990. Few players were able to bend a game to their will as consistently and successfully as Al Talyani. A fascinating 160 appearances for his country saw him score 52 goals, making him top of the list in United Arab Emirates history.
Best Soccer Player from America – Landon Donovan
Landon was capped 157 times and scored 57 goals in his international career. In Europe, he played for prestigious clubs such as Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, and Everton. His senior career tally is impressive 200 goals in 511 appearances. He has had a big influence on American soccer and attracted many talents to MLS, helping it grow to what it is today.
Best Soccer Player from Uruguay – Juan Alberto Schiaffino
Schiaffino featured in both the 1950 and 1954 World Cups for Uruguay. He had a particular impact in 1950, scoring the equalizing goal against Brazil in the final which set Uruguay on the road to victory and a second World Cup title. Schiaffino scored over 140 goals in his career but is mostly remembered for his control, his assists, and his ability as a creator rather than a finisher.
Best Soccer Player from Wales – Ryan Giggs
One last Manchester United legend on this list. Ryan’s extended career and discipline gave him an edge against Gareth Bale’s hefty price tag. The skinny winger is a well-rounded player who sustained top-level performance for long years. He is one of only 28 players to have made over 1,000 career appearances. While it’s hard to mention every title this well-decorated legend has won, it’s fair to say: Manchester United and Liverpool are the only clubs in English soccer history to have won more league championships than Giggs.
In this article I, joyfully, listed 76 names plus few honorable mentions. I remembered great players I watched and learned about those I missed. A journey in legacy books which reminded me why I love this game and why millions of children around the world are training daily, dreaming to have their names on a similar list one day.