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Ranking the 25 most influential footballers of this decade
The football world comprises some of the best athletes the world has ever seen. Some players transformed themselves into huge business brands and marked their spot in the entrepreneurship space. The most influential footballers are the ones who performed remarkably for the club and country and went on to become extremely successful in their personal lives.
Football players worldwide aspire to become the biggest name in the sport. So they work daily to mark their place among the most elite footballers by performing remarkably on the pitch or pulling glorious fates off the pitch.
Who are the most influential footballers of all time?
25. Iker Casillas
- Full name: Iker Casillas Fernández
- Date of birth: 20 May 1981
- Age: 42 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Móstoles, Spain
Iker currently works as a football commentator. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of the sport. Iker Casillas joined the youth ranks of Real Madrid at a young age and made his first-team debut in 1999.
24. Xabi Alonso
- Full name: Xabier Alonso Olano
- Date of birth: 25 November 1981
- Age: 42 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Tolosa, Spain
Xabi is a former professional footballer who is now the head coach of Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. He is often referred to as one of the best midfielders of his generation. With 114 caps, he is the eighth-most capped player in the country's history.
23. Sergio Aguero
- Full name: Sergio Leonel Agüero del Castillo
- Date of birth: 2 June 1988
- Age: 35 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Buenos Aires, Argentina
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During his decade-long tenure with Manchester City, Sergio was regarded as one of the best attackers of his generation and one of the greatest players in Premier League history. Sergio Aguero is the club's all-time leading scorer and has the most Premier League hat-tricks (12).
22. Franck Ribery
- Full name: Franck Henry Pierre Ribéry
- Date of birth: 7 April 1983
- Age: 40 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
Franck Ribéry is a French professional footballer who is widely regarded as one of the best wingers of his generation. He has had a successful career playing for various top clubs in Europe.
Before his stint with Bayern Munich, Franck Ribery played for clubs such as Olympique de Marseille in France and Galatasaray in Turkey. He also represented the French national team in multiple international competitions.
21. Andrea Pirlo
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- Full name: Andrea Pirlo Ufficiale
- Date of birth: 19 May 1979
- Age: 44 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Flero, Italy
Andrea is the head coach of Sampdoria, a Serie B club. Andrea Pirlo was known for his vision, ball control, technique, creativity, passing ability, and free kicks. Pirlo was named head coach of Serie C club Juventus U23 on July 30, 2020, following his retirement.
20. George Weah
- Full name: George Manneh Oppong Weah
- Date of birth: 1 October 1966
- Age: 57 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Monrovia, Liberia
George Weah has inspired not only fellow African athletes but also an imposter purporting to be his cousin to play for Southampton. George Weah was one of a group of forwards who rewrote the rule book in the 1990s.
19. Kelly Smith
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- Full name: Kelly Jayne Smith
- Date of birth: 29 October 1978
- Age: 45 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Watford, United Kingdom
Kelly Smith's father suggested she try another sport after she was kicked from a boy's team as a child because she was too skilled. Kelly Smith continued to play football, but she had to take the long route to gain her earned attention.
England's finest female player had to move for the greener pastures of US soccer to have a chance. Girls followed in her footsteps and Bend It Like Beckham was based on her life. She returned to her homeland, won the Quadruple with Arsenal, and established her legacy. She is one of the most influential footballers of all time.
18. Ronaldinho Gaúcho
- Full name: Ronaldo de Assis Moreira
- Date of birth: 21 March 1980
- Age: 43 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Porto Alegre, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
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The first image of Ronaldinho that fans recall is him tearing away in joy after lobbing David Seaman from 40 yards. They may have found it difficult to believe initially, but they would grow to appreciate this mischievous chap.
Ronaldinho brought showmanship back into football. Ronaldinho Gaúcho was the last great performer of the twenty-first century, dazzling with his powers; scoring all 23 goals in a youth game once and practicing his incredible abilities in his backyard as a child with his dog - he is the most extroverted enigma you could ever find.
- Full name: Edson Arantes do Nascimento
- Date of birth: 23 October 1940
- Died: 29 December 2022
- Place of birth: Três Corações, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil
Edson Arantes do Nascimento was a footballer like no other. He was only 5'8 but could outjump everyone and manipulate the ball with any part of his body. He scored for fun: the only way to stop him in 1966 was to hack him down.
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Pele broke into football at 16 and was the only adolescent to score in a World Cup final in the previous 50 years. Footballer Pele popularized the bicycle kick, the rainbow flick, and the moniker 'The Beautiful Game,' and the no.10 position has any prestige because of him.
16. Manuel Neuer
- Full name: Manuel Peter Neuer
- Date of birth: 27 March 1986
- Age: 37 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Gelsenkirchen, Germany
Many first saw the contemporary sweeper keeper in a 2014 World Cup match against Algeria. With Per Mertesacker in the high line, Germany's defence lacked the recovery speed needed to deal with on-rushing attackers. So instead, Manuel Neuer arrived to greet them.
But Manuel Neuer was more than just a cleaner. Pep Guardiola, a former deep-lying playmaker in his playing days, almost abolished the DLP role from his Bayern Munich team, such as the ball-playing ability of his goalkeeper and any two centre-backs at his disposal.
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15. Andres Iniesta
- Full name: Andrés Iniesta Luján
- Date of birth: 11 May 1984
- Age: 39 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Fuentealbilla, Spain
Andres Iniesta is curiously diminutive, yet he succeeds above all others in a game focused on brawn and brutal force. It demonstrates his technical ability, football intuition, and vision, and he has forever altered the playing ground for aspiring top-tier central midfielders. Andres Iniesta is considered as one of the most influential footballers of all time.
14. Gianfranco Zola
- Full name: Gianfranco Zola
- Date of birth: 5 July 1966
- Age: 57 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Oliena, Italy
The Premier League is where mercurial talent flourishes and technically superior players are appreciated; the inflow of foreign talent has resulted in a more skilful spectacle, and it all began with the first few foreign arrivals.
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Gianfranco Zola was one of them, and if not the very first, he is unquestionably one of the most remarkable. Some Chelsea Football Club fans confess today that they were lured to the Blues because of Gianfranco Zola's skill on the ball, and he set the tone for other clubs to search abroad for unusual talent.
13. Diego Maradona
- Full name: Diego Armando Maradona
- Date of birth: 30 October 1960
- Died: 25 November 2020
- Place of birth: Lanús, Argentina
Diego Maradona is one of those players that you can love and despise at the same time. He demonstrated his great, unequalled brilliance and the sinister side that made him such a controversial figure in subsequent years in five minutes against England while playing for Argentina in 1978.
The mazy dribble from inside his half to around the keeper to score was one of the best goals this sport has ever seen; the one with his hands four minutes earlier was one of the most criminal. Nevertheless, Diego Maradona is one of the most influential football players of all time.
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12. George Best
- Full name: George Best
- Date of birth: 22 May 1946
- Died: 25 November 2005
- Place of birth: Belfast, United Kingdom
George Best is undoubtedly one of the greatest players in the game's history. George Best's smooth abilities guided Manchester United to a slew of trophies, and he is still the best technician to have represented Northern Ireland on the international stage.
- Full name: Eusébio da Silva Ferreira
- Date of birth: 25 January 1942
- Died: 5 January 2014
- Place of birth: Maputo, Mozambique
Eusebio is nearly solely responsible for bringing Portuguese football back into prominence. Numerous mercurial talents have emerged from the Iberian region recently, but none of them may have thrived if the great man had not laid the groundwork earlier.
In the 1960s, Eusébio da Silva Ferreira led a tremendously successful Benfica team that won two European Cups and finished runners-up three times in the same decade. He is one of the most influential figures in football history.
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10. Philipp Lahm
- Full name: Philipp Lahm
- Date of birth: 11 November 1983
- Age: 40 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Munich, Germany
He is said to be the mother of innovation, but in the case of Pep Guardiola, breakthroughs have often come from having all of the essential parts and just assembling them in a way that has never been done before.
Guardiola saw that his most intellectual player at Bayern Munich was a full-back who could play on either wing. So Bayern kept their offence wide by allowing Philipp Lahm and David Alaba to drift inward in possession while shifting natural ball-winners to the middle of the park.
9. Thierry Henry
- Full name: Thierry Daniel Henry
- Date of birth: 17 August 1977
- Age: 46 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Les Ulis, France
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Thierry Henry is a retired French football player and a highly regarded football manager. His playing career saw him achieve success at both the club and international levels. Thierry Henry played for several top clubs, including AS Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, and the New York Red Bulls.
8. Johan Cruyff
- Full name: Hendrik Johannes Cruijff
- Date of birth: 25 April 1947
- Died: 24 March 2016
- Place of birth: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Johan Cruyff was a fantastic footballer who pioneered the "Cruyff turn." His quick feet, insane dribbling ability, and tremendous finishing skills have allowed him to assume the mantle of one of the best players in the game's history.
7. Antonin Panenka
- Full name: Antonín Panenka
- Date of birth: 2 December 1948
- Age: 74 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Prague, Czechia
In the 1976 European Championship final, Antonin Panenka stepped out to take the winning penalty. The Czechoslovakia international had accomplished something no one else had done on the international stage, and that "type" of penalty has since been termed the "Panenka penalty." Lionel Messi, Andrea Pirlo, and Zinedine Zidane have all used the tactic since.
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6. David Beckham
- Full name: David Robert Joseph Beckham
- Date of birth: 2 May 1975
- Age: 48 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Whipps Cross University Hospital, London, United Kingdom
For the past 15 years, David Beckham has been an international superstar and leveraged his celebrity and good looks to break into the market and promote himself as a business and brand.
He has perfume and apparel brands, operates charities, and purchased an MLS team. After retiring from the game, he has established a model for what to accomplish and has bridged the gap between the United States and soccer. He is regarded as the most influential footballer in history.
5. Viv Anderson
- Full name: Vivian Alexander Anderson
- Date of birth: 29 July 1956
- Age: 67 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Clifton, United Kingdom
The England shirt worn by Viv Anderson in the game versus Czechoslovakia in 1978 is exhibited at Manchester's People's History Museum. This was the first time a black player had played for the Three Lions. As a result, he is considered one of the most influential players in football.
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4. Franz Beckenbauer
- Full name: Franz Anton Beckenbauer
- Date of birth: 11 September 1945
- Age: 78 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Munich, Germany
Beckenbauer is not simply the most influential character in German football history; he is also widely regarded as the best defender of all time, having won the Ballon d'Or twice. He represents the German game's commitment and hard work, and in his role in Die Mannschaft's defence. Franz Beckenbauer pioneered the sweeper or libero role, intercepting play with ease and breaking forward to launch attacks.
3. Jean-Marc Bosman
- Full name: Jean-Marc Bosman
- Date of birth: 3 October 1964
- Age: 59 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Liège, Belgium
Jean-Marc Bosman altered the way football contracts are structured. Although Bosman's contract at his current club Standard Liege had expired, any prospective suitors still had to pay a transfer fee to release him.
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Because no club met the asking price, Jean-Marc Bosman could not go, had his wages lowered, and was kicked out of the first team. Later, the court found his favour, advocating for the free movement of employees across the continent.
2. Lionel Messi
- Full name: Lionel Andrés Messi
- Date of birth: 24 June 1987
- Age: 36 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Rosario, Argentina
Lionel Messi is an Argentine professional footballer widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. Messi spent the majority of his career playing for Barcelona, where he became the club's all-time top scorer and won numerous domestic and international titles. Lionel Messi is known for his incredible goal-scoring ability, dribbling skills, vision on the field, and consistency in performance.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
- Full name: Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro
- Date of birth: 5 February 1985
- Age: 38 years old (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Hospital Dr. Nélio Mendonça, Funchal, Portugal
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Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese professional footballer widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. Over the years, Cristiano Ronaldo has won numerous individual awards, including multiple FIFA Ballon d'Or awards, which are given to the world's best player.
Who is the most influential person in the history of football?
Some of these influential footballers in the world include:
Who is the richest player on earth?
The richest player on earth is Faiq Bolkiah. He has an estimated net worth of $20 billion. He plays as a winger for Ratchaburi in Thai League 1.
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Who is the most influential footballer in the world 2023?
Lionel Messi is regarded as the most influential football player in 2023. Messi plays as a forward for and captains both Major League Soccer club Inter Miami and the Argentina national team. He has won a record eight Ballon d'Or awards and a record six European Golden Shoes.
Who is the king of football in history?
Pelé, also known as Edson Arantes do Nascimento, reigned as the unrivaled champion of the football game. He remains the sole player to achieve victory in three World Cups, triumphing in 1958, 1962, and 1970.
The most influential footballers are the ones who created a career that is desired by many and, in that connection, created a huge fan base. These players achieved a remarkable feat on and off the pitch.
Sportsbrief.com recently published a list of the hottest female footballers in the world right now. There are numerous elite female footballers in the modern-day society.
They come from various parts of the world. Some have caught the attention of fans because they are easy on the eyes, besides being good at the sport.