10 Best European Soccer Players of All Time
The top 10 European soccer players ever are among the game’s greatest players. The continent has a rich and diverse soccer culture that’s produced players as different as playmaker Zidane and scoring machine Eusébio. Read on for our picks.
- Johan Cruyff Cruyff won the coveted Ballon d'Or three times during his career. The Dutchman was a strong proponent of the Total Football philosophy, by which any player could fulfill any role at anytime. An all-time great, Cruyff was once dubbed the successor to Pelé and is known, along with Maradona, di Stéfano and Pelé, as one of the four soccer legends.
- Zinedine Zidane Gallic soccer great Zidane brought France its first World Cup title in 1998, won the Champions League title in 2002 and the Euro Cup in 2000. An all-around brilliant soccer player, Zidane could make any play work and was blessed with intense creativity. His ability to distribute the ball to maximum effect was unparalleled.
- Franz Beckenbauer The former West German captain is the only soccer player in history to have won the World Cup as both a player and a coach. Beckenbauer single-handedly invented the attacking sweeper and brought home three successive European Cups for Bayern Munich. Nicknamed "The Emperor" for his commanding style of play, Beckenbauer is one the top ten European soccer players of all time.
- Ferenc Puskás Puskás led a Hungarian national team that destroyed unsuspecting competitors at every turn. The Hungarian team became the first international side to beat England at Wembley and trounced South Korea 9-0 and West Germany 8-3 in the ’54 World Cup. As one of the ten best European soccer players ever, Puskás scored 84 goals in 85 matches in international play and 514 goals in 529 matches at club level, all the while using only one foot to dribble and shoot.
- George Best Irishman Best derailed his own career in his prime, succumbing to alcoholism, gambling and womanizing. One of the first celebrity soccer players, Best had phenomenal speed and ball handling, playing equally as well with both feet he befuddled defenders at every turn. Best led Manchester United to a European Cup in 1968 and is one of Northern Ireland’s national heroes.
- Michel Platini Current UEFA President Platini was brilliant on the pitch. The midfielder is considered one of the game’s great passers, as well as one soccer’s best free-kick tacticians. Like countryman Zidane, Platini was a master playmaker, engineering brilliant attacks at club and international level.
- Eusébio Of split Portuguese and Mozambican heritage, Eusébio managed a mind-blowing 727 goals in 715 games at club level. A recipient of the UEFA President’s Award (given to him by Platini), The Black Panther’s speed and aggression single-handedly took the Portuguese national side to third place at the ’66 World Cup.
- Gerd Müller The World Cup’s second all time top scorer, Müller notched successive hat-tricks in the ’70 edition of the global showpiece. Müller was known for his preternatural ability to squeeze goals out of any situation. His impressive career total of 572, along with the sixth highest goal per game ratio ever, makes him one of Europe’s top layers.
- Paolo Rossi If for no other reason, Italian striker Paolo Rossi belongs on this list for leading his side to World Cup glory in ’82 after a stunning second round victory over a strong Brazil in which he scored a hat-trick. One of Europe’s best soccer players of all time, Rossi also won the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball at the ’82 Cup, making him one of only two players to win all three honors.
- Raúl Raúl is both Real Madrid’s and the Spanish National Team’s all-time top scorer. He was the first player to score fifty goals in the Champions League and is the all-time leader in Champions League goals and appearances. Raúl is a class act; he’s never received a red card.
Posted on: May. 03, 2010