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Top 10 best German footballers of all time: Find out who tops the list
Germany is one of the most successful national teams in international competitions. The country has won four World Cups and three European Championships. Besides, it has one of the best leagues, the Bundesliga, which has hosted the best German footballers of all time.
Ranking among the greatest German footballers of all time is a unique honour many players dream of achieving. The list includes players with incredible performances who have won millions of fans worldwide.
Best German footballers of all time
Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, and Lothar Matthaus are among the most talented Die Nationalmannschaft footballers. They dominated their opponents through skill, determination, and hard work.
Who is the best footballer in Germany?
Here is a list of German football player legends and their achievements. The legendary stars featured below have retired from the sport.
10. Matthias Sammer
The legendary defensive midfielder played for West and East Germany. Sammer is one of the most decorated and best German footballers of the 90s. He retired in 1998 as one of the greatest soccer stars in Europe.
- Games: 74
- Goals: 14
- Position: Defensive midfielder
- Clubs: Dynamo Dresden, VfB Stuttgart, Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund
- Awards: German Footballer of the Year (1995), 1996 FIFA Ballon d'Or, Best Player of the UEFA Euro 1996
- Trophies: Bundesliga (3), DFB Super Cups (2), Champions League
9. Uwe Seeler
Seeler was a scoring machine which made life difficult for opposing defenders. He is the first soccer player to receive the Federal Republic of Germany's Great Order of Merit. Uwe Seeler failed to win a World Cup but remains one of the sport's legends. He scored over 406 goals in his Bundesliga career.
- Games: 72
- Goals: 43
- Position: Striker
- Club: Hamburger SV
- Awards: German Footballer of the Year (3), Bundesliga Top Scorer, FIFA World Cup All-Star Team
- Trophies: German football championship, DFB-Pokal
8. Bastian Schweinsteiger
Schweinsteiger registered his name among the best German midfielders of all time following his outstanding performance in the 2014 World Cup. He is among the best German footballers in the 21st century.
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The legendary midfielder spent most of his career at Bayern Munich and won dozens of titles. He played his last international game on 31 August 2016, becoming the fourth most-capped Die Nationalmannschaft footballer.
- Games: 121
- Goals: 24
- Position: Midfielder
- Clubs: Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Chicago Fire
- Awards: German Player of the Year (1), ESM Team of the Year, Silbernes Lorbeerblatt (3), FIFA World Cup Dream Team
- Trophies: Bundesliga (8), DFB-Pokal (7), DFL-Supercup, DFB-Ligapokal, UEFA Champions League, FIFA World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup
7. Sepp Maier
The country has produced outstanding goalkeepers like Manuel Neuer, Oliver Kahn, and Jens Lehmann. However, Sepp Maier tops the list of the shot-stoppers to emerge from the nation. Many people consider Maier the world's most outstanding goalkeeper in the 1970s. He registered four clean sheets at the 1974 World Cup and helped his country win the coveted trophy.
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- Games: 95
- Goals conceded: 73
- Clean sheets: 43
- Position: Goalkeeper
- Club: Bayern Munich
- Awards: German Footballer of the Year (4), Germany's goalkeeper of the Century, FIFA World Cup All-Star Team
- Trophies: World Cup (1), European Championship (1), Intercontinental Cup winner (2), Bundesliga (4), German Cup (4), Champions League (3)
6. Fritz Walter
Walter led his country to their first World Cup triumph in 1954. He was an attacking midfielder or forward who spent most of his career at Kaiserslautern in the national championships before the formation of the Bundesliga.
- Games: 61
- Goals: 33
- Position: Attacking midfielder/forward
- Clubs: Kaiserslautern, TSG Diedenhofen, TSG Saargemünd
- Awards: UEFA German Golden Player
- Trophies: FIFA World Cup, German football championship (2), FIFA Order of Merit
5. Miroslav Klose
No one would doubt Miroslav Klose's ability and genius on the pitch. The German's all-time goal scorer also holds the record for most World Cup goals (16) in history. He never lost a single game he scored while playing for his nation.
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Klose hung his boots after winning the 2014 World Cup title. He is among the few footballers who won the World Cup gold, silver, and bronze medals.
Clubs: FC 08 Homburg, FC Kaiserslautern II, Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich, Lazio
Awards: FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe (2006), Germany Footballer of the Year, Bundesliga Player of the Season, Bundesliga top goalscorer, DFB-Pokal top goalscorer
Trophies: DFL-Ligapokal (2), Bundesliga (2), DFB-Pokal (2), DFL-Supercup, Coppa Italia, World Cup
4. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
Rummenigge followed in the footsteps of his predecessors in the national team. He was a talented centre-forward with an eye for goal. The legendary striker is among the five stars from his country to win the Ballon d'Or. Rummenigge left his job at the bank to join Bayern Munich in 1974. He became the club's second-best goal scorer behind Gerd Muller.
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- Games: 95
- Goals: 45
- Position: Centre-forward
- Clubs: Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Servette
- Awards: Bundesliga Top Goalscorer (3), Ballon d'Or (2), European Cup Top Goalscorer, Golden Foot, Onze d'Or (2), Bravo Otto (5)
- Trophies: UEFA European Championship, Bundesliga (2), DFB-Pokal (2), European Cup (2), Intercontinental Cup
3. Lothar Matthaus
The former charismatic midfielder is the most capped player ever for his country. He also holds the record for the most appearances in the World Cup. Matthaus was a flexible footballer with excellent passing skills and strong tackling. He is part of Pele's FIFA 100 list of the best-living soccer players. Many people consider Matthaus the best central midfielder ever.
Clubs: FC Herzogenaurach, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, New York MetroStars
Awards: Ballon d'Or, IFFHS World's Best Player, Onze d'Or, German Footballer of the Year (2), Golden Foot legends award
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Trophies: Bundesliga (6), DFB-Pokal: (2), DFB-Supercup, DFB UEFA Cup, Serie A, UEFA Cup, FIFA World Cup
Who is the best striker in Germany?
Gerd Muller is undoubtedly the most outstanding football striker in Die Nationalmannschaft history. His goal-scoring prowess and precision finishes made him stand out among other legends. Many people will remember the forward for scoring ten goals during the 1970 World Cup.
2. Gerd Muller
Muller holds the record for the most goals scored in the Bundesliga (523). He also has a Ballon d'Or and a World Cup in his prestigious career. The legendary striker won the Champions League for three consecutive years, among other titles with Bayern. Muller made the art of goal-scoring look simple.
Awards: Ballon d'Or, German Footballer of the Year (2), Bundesliga Top Scorer (7), Onze de Onze, European Cup Top Scorer, FIFA World Cup Golden Boot
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Trophies: Champions League (3), FIFA World Cup, Bundesliga (4), European Cup, German Cup (4), Intercontinental Cup (2)
1. Franz Beckenbauer
The versatile central midfielder tops the list of best German footballers in history. He invented the role of a sweeper in the sport. Beckenbauer was the first captain to win the World Cup, European Cup, and European Championships.
Beckenbauer was equally successful in the dugout, becoming one of only three people to lift a World Cup as a player and a manager. He is also the only defender to lift the Ballon d'Or twice.
Position: Central defender
Awards: European Footballer of the Year (2), Ballon d'Or (2), German Footballer of the Year (4), Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Laureus World Sports Awards lifetime achievement, FIFA Presidential Award, IFFHS Genius of World Football award
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Trophies: FIFA World Cup, European Championship, European Champions' Cup (3), Intercontinental Cup, DFB German Cup (4)
Who are the best Germans to play in the EPL?
Many Germans had played in the Premier League since December 1992, when Matthias Breitkreutz debuted for West Ham. Uwe Rosler was the first to score in the tournament in March 1994 as a Manchester City player.
Other are Jurgen Klinsmann, Michael Ballack, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil, Lorey Sane, Robert Huth, Per Mertesacker, and Antonio Rudigger. Man City's Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz of Chelsea are among the best German footballers 2023 playing in the league.
The best German footballers have inspired many young talents in the current generation who aspire to follow in their footsteps. Some of their records will take many years to break, while others may last forever.
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