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List of the Best Football Players of the 20th Century

The 20th-century football scene has given us numerous great players. What’s more, there were even some of the greatest ones in history. Those were the players we shall never forget. These are the names that every young football player will look up to in their own professional journey. In fact, most names on this list are known to people who barely take any interest in football. However, those players have already become legends in the world of professional sports. Such great names shall always stay among us and should never be forgotten.

After all, being the number one at something is a combination of rare talent and extremely hard work. Such achievement should be celebrated. So, without further ado, here is the list of the best football players of the 20th century.

Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff was more than just a football player. He was also a writer, a coach, a businessman, and much more. However, it was his football career that turned him into the man he had become. His unique style of play, endurance, talent, skills, and excellent performance throughout the 1970s made him a true football legend. There was something unreal about watching him play. It looked like he felt where all of his teammates were. His possession of a ball was unmistakable his own. You’d never confuse his dribbling with anyone else’s. He was also the first player to develop his own skill move. It was something then copied and adopted by many after him.

Alfredo Di Stefano

Real Madrid has been lucky with its football players all throughout its history. Yet, one name immediately comes to mind when thinking about great football players of the 20th century. Alfredo Di Stefano is known as one of the best sportsmen that have ever played for Real Madrid. His successful career earned him the status of a football legend along with other great names on our list. By now, Stefano is one of the greatest scorers in Real Madrid history. However, what he was really known for was his vision. He was a strategic man who always applied his tactics on the field. His creativity, quick mind, and powerful play made him one of the best football players in the 20th century.

Ferenc Puskas

Back in the 1950s, there was one name that everyone knew – Ferenc Puskas. This great footballer of Hungarian origin is remembered as one of the best players in history, and for a good reason. In the 1950s, the scene of professional international football was gaining popularity among the masses. Puskas played a big role in such a turn of events. He played for the Hungarian national team as well as for the Spanish Real Madrid. In 1952, Puskas became an Olympic champion. In 1954, during the World Cup, he was named the best player of the championship. Should we even say anything else? Well, maybe just one more thing. Puskas received the title of the best scorer in the 20th-century by the IFFHS back in the 1990s.


The living legend, the greatest football player of all, the three-time world champion Pele, has forever changed football history. One short name that is known to so many. This Brazilian player was a real discovery of the 1970s. While playing 92 games for Brazil, he managed to score 77 (!) times. This achievement alone would have made him the top player of the 20th century. Though, there is so much more to Pele’s history that we can fit into one brief paragraph. After all, Pele has become a national hero in Brazil and used his status to change the country’s politics.
Those who want to explore Pele’s influence on Brazilian football should pay someone to write an essay to get a detailed assignment on sports. A proper academic paper is the best way to learn about this legend and its impact on the world.

Diego Maradona

This list could not be full without this great name. Diego Maradona is well-known to people all over the world. Since the 1980s, every little boy or girl on a football field has wanted to be like Maradona. How could they not want that? Maradona’s ability to control the ball was one of a kind. His passing, dribbling and other maneuvers are now taught in all football schools around the globe.

Oh, and how sad we all were when it was time to say goodbye. Living in the same period with such a legend was a privilege. At least, Maradona did not worry about his name being forgotten. Interestingly, it’s often argued who deserves the top spot in such a list, Pele or Diego Maradona. We are not going to give you the answer. To use all those legends on the list is number one. However, we admit that no other controversial topics on architecture, art, or sports can be as hard to resolve as this issue. Well, maybe there is no point to argue. These were all great football legends of the 20th century. They deserve their place in history.

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