A ranked list of the 10 best Brazilian soccer players of all time

A ranked list of the 10 best Brazilian soccer players of all time

Ciku Njuguna
updated at December 28, 2023 at 11:59 AM
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Brazil is home to some of the world's most talented football players. From Pele to Neymar, global football has been shaped by their influence and contribution. Discover stats and records of the top ten best Brazilian soccer players of all time.

The best Brazilian soccer players
Brazilian football legend Pele, also known as O Rei (the King). Photo by Lichfield Archive and John Lamparski.
Source: Getty Images

Who is the greatest Brazilian soccer player? Fanciers of the Brazilian talent pool are spoilt for choice when deciding the most outstanding players. Scroll down for an extensive list of Seleção Canarinha players who have excelled on the global football stage.

Who are the top 10 best Brazilian soccer players of all time?

Over the course of history, Pelé has stood out as the most notable Seleção Canarinha player, who won three World Cups and later headed Brazil's Ministry of Sports. This is a list of world-class soccer stars compiled using stats and records from reputable sources such as Bleacher Report, Transfermarkt, and the official UEFA and Premier League websites.

Who are the top ten best Brazilian soccer players of all time?

Isaías Marques Soares was among the first Brazilian footballers to enjoy global stardom. The forward's debut in the Premier League in August 1995 marked the beginning of an era with Brazil's best soccer players of all time making history in various leagues across the world.

Who is the best player in Brazil soccer now?
Roberto Firmino shoots a goal during an international friendly between Brazil and Nigeria at the Singapore National Stadium on October 13, 2019, in Singapore. Photo by PictoBank.
Source: Getty Images

As a country, FIFA ranks Brazil fifth as the football nation with 1832.69 points. Few footballers have reached the legendary Seleção Canarinha players, such as Jairzinho, Juninho Paulista, Carlos Alberto, Rivellino, Djalma Santos, Falcao, Vava and Zico. Have a look at the list of the best players in Brazil's football history.



Matches played

Career goals

Career assists












Attacking midfielder





Attacking midfielder





Attacking midfielder





Left winger





Attacking midfielder










Right winger









Who is Brazil's best player in 2023?
Brazil's Philippe Coutinho controls the ball, evading Peru's Pedro Aquino during a match at Estadio Nacional de Lima on October 13, 2020, in Lima, Peru. Photo by Daniel Apuy.
Source: Getty Images

10. Cafu

Born and raised in the Jardim Irene favela in São Paulo, Cafu was a force to reckon with on the football field between 1988 and 2009. He was on the winning side of two World Cup Finals in 1994 and 2002 and lost one in 1998. The retired defender, who remains one of the most capped players of all time, with 142 appearances for Canarinha, continues to influence the world of football through humanitarian work.

  • Full name: Marcos Evangelista de Moraes
  • Date of birth: June 07, 1970
  • Team(s): AC Milan, AS Roma, Palmeiras, Juventude, Real Zaragoza, Garforth Town AFC, São Paulo FC
Who is Brazil's best footballer?
Brazilian footballer Cafu celebrates after scoring a goal against Scottland on June 10, 1998, during the 1998 World Cup in Saint-Denis, Paris. Photo by Lutz Bongarts.
Source: Getty Images

9. Romário

Newly discovered data reveals that Romário is one of the highest goalscorers in football history, with a record of 768 to 1000 goals in his career. During his active years with the Seleção Brasileira, the 1994 FIFA World Player of the Year set the tone for goalscoring with a hat-trick during his El Clasico debut in the same year.

  • Full name: Romário de Souza Faria
  • Date of birth: January 29, 1966
  • Team(s): América FC, CR Vasco da Gama, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Al-Sadd SC, Adelaide United, Fluminense FC, PSV Eindhoven, FC Barcelona, Valencia CF, CR Flamengo
Who are the legendary players in Brazil?
PSV Eindhoven's Brazilian star Romario celebrates one of his two goals during a Euro Cup match against Steau Bucharest 1 in 1989. Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography.
Source: Getty Images

8. Zico

Zico's story is one of the richest stories of historical triumphs that began with his boyhood team, Flamengo, in the 1970s. The attacking midfielder, whose family was rooted in the game, beat physical inadequacies to win four Brazilian league titles and one Copa Libertadores winner. At the start of his career, the midfielder who later won three South American Footballer of the Year awards was extremely thin, measuring only 4 feet and 9 inches (149.3 centimetres).

  • Full name: Arthur Antunes Coimbra
  • Date of birth: March 03, 1953
  • Team(s): Kashima Antlers, Udinese Calcio, CR Flamengo
Who are the legendary players in Brazil?
Brazilian footballer Zico in action during a World Cup Qualifying match against Bolivia in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 30, 1985. Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography.
Source: Getty Images

7. Rivaldo

Rivaldo's journey to global fame began in 1992 at São Paulo's Paulista FC. In his prime, the deadly striker played for fifteen football teams in domestic and international leagues, winning major awards, including a bronze Olympic medal, the World Cup, and the Ballon d’Or.

  • Full name: Rivaldo Vítor Borba Ferreira
  • Date of birth: April 19, 1972
  • Team(s): SC Corinthians Paulista, Santa Cruz FC, Mogi Mirim EC, Cgoldinthians, Palmeiras, Deportivo de La Coruña, FC Barcelona, AC Milan, Cruzeiro EC, Olympiacos Piraeus, AEK Athens, Bunyodkor Tashkent, Sao Paulo, Kabuscorp SC, AD São Caetano
Who is Brazil's best footballer?
Brazil's attacking midfielder, Rivaldo (centre), evades Morocco's Tahar (left) during the 1998 World Cup in France. Photo by Michael Steele/EMPICS.
Source: Getty Images

6. Sócrates

Nicknamed Doctor Sócrates, the number 8 footballer remains to be one of the best midfielders in the world. Sócrates was known for his free-flowing, elegant style of play and political activism. However, although Sócrates is hailed for his flair and gave on the field, he was never listed in a World Cup championship roster in his prime.

  • Full name: Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira e Oliveira
  • Date of birth: February 19, 1954
  • Date of death: December 04, 2011
  • Team(s): Botafogo FC, Santos FC, CR Flamengo, ACF Fiorentina, SC Corinthians Paulista
The best Brazilian soccer players of all time
Brazil's legendary player Sócrates (in yellow) was in action during the 1982 World Cup Finals on July 2, 1982, in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography.
Source: Getty Images

5. Ronaldinho

2002 World Cup winner Ronaldinho begins our list of the top 5 Brazilian soccer players of all time. Between 1998 and 2018, he stunned the world with his style of play, goalscoring skills, and an infectious smile. By his retirement on January 16, 2018, the Porto Alegre native was a notable influence among footballers of his generation, winning a Ballon d'Or and two FIFA World Player of the Year awards in the process.

  • Full name: Ronaldo Assis de Moreira
  • Date of birth: March 12, 1980
  • Team(s): Grêmio FBPA, Paris Saint-Germain, FC Barcelona, AC Milan, CR Flamengo, Atlético Mineiro, Querétaro FC, Fluminense FC
Who is Brazil greatest player?
Brasilian forward Ronaldinho was pictured before the Match of Peace charity game at Olimpico stadium in Rome, Italy, on October 12, 2016. Photo by Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto.
Source: Getty Images

4. Kaká

Ricardo Kaká is one of the most famous soccer players in Brazil and around the world. In 2012, he became the first athlete to have more than 10 million followers on X(Twitter). In his prime, the Spanish Champion stood out as one of the polished and decorated playmakers for all his teams, including the Brazilian national football team.

  • Full name: Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite
  • Date of birth: April 22, 1982
  • Team(s): São Paulo FC, AC Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan
Who are Brazil's football legends?
Real Madrid's Kaká was in action against Olympique Lyonnais during a Ligue des Champions match on October 18, 2011. Photo: Dave Winter/Icon Sport.
Source: Getty Images

3. Ronaldo

Ronaldo's career was marked by several firsts, such as being the youngest player to ever win a Ballon d'Or and the all-time World Cup goalscorer in the most World Cup games scored in. Among other awards, the Real Valladolid CF president won two World Cups, two Ballon d'Ors, and six top goalscorer awards in his eighteen-year career.

  • Full name: Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima
  • Date of birth: September 18, 1976
  • Team(s): SC Corinthians Paulista, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, FC Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven, Cruzeiro EC, Social Ramos Club, São Cristóvão
Who is Brazil greatest player?
Internazionale's striker Ronaldo takes the ball past Lazio goalie Luca Marchegiani before scoring a goal during a UEFA Cup Final match. Photo by Mark Leech/Offside.
Source: Getty Images

2. Garrincha

Mané Garrincha is a famous soccer player from Brazil whose influence in football is still felt today. Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan writer, later wrote about his influence, saying,

“In the entire history of football, no one made more people happy."

Garrincha is one of the most successful soccer players with disabilities. Growing up, he was a small and fragile child who played through bow-legged features and a spinal deformity to win two World Cup awards.

  • Full name: Manuel Francisco dos Santos, Mané Garrincha
  • Date of birth: October 28, 1933
  • Date of death: January 20, 1983
  • Team(s): Olaria Atlético Clube, CR Flamengo, Junior FC, SC Corinthians Paulista, Botafogo FR, Serrano FC, EC Pau Grande
Who is the best Brazil player of all time?
Brazillian football star Garrincha, one of the best dribblers in football who won two World Cups, was pictured on January 01, 1960. Photo by Popperfoto.
Source: Getty Images

1. Pelé

The best number 10 in Brazil's history is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, an unmistakable soccer legend whose influence in football is still felt today. In 1970, Pelé was voted most famous, beating global figures such as Queen Elizabeth II, Pope Paul VI, Muhammad Ali, Neil Armstrong, and Elvis Presley, among others.

The King, or O Rei, as he was fondly known, was only seventeen when he won the first of his three World Cup titles. As Brazil's best soccer player ever, the Três Corações born forward has remained one of the most decorated players in the history of professional football.

  • Full name: Edson Arantes do Nascimento
  • Date of birth: October 23, 1940
  • Date of death: December 29, 2022
  • Team(s): New York Cosmos, FC Santos, Bauru Atletico Clube
The best Brazilian soccer players
Pelé raises his arms to celebrate a goal during a World Cup Final match against Italy on June 21, 1970, in Mexico. Photo by Rolls Press/Popperfoto.
Source: Getty Images

Who are the best Brazilian soccer players currently?

Alongside other players such as Dani Alves, Casemiro, and Roberto Firmino, Neymar was the best Brazilian player of all time at the time of writing. Other footballers who make it to this elite list of Brazil's record players include Gabriel Jesus, Marcelo, Ederson, and Bruno Guimarães. Here are details of the best players in Brazil's soccer now.




Current team

Total matches played

Career goals

Career assists



Left winger

Fulham FC





Philippe Coutinho

Attacking midfield

Al-Duhail SC







Liverpool FC





Thiago Silva


Chelsea FC





Vinicius Junior

Left winger

Real Madrid





Dani Alves


Without Club






Defensive midfield

Manchester United






Defensive midfield

Club Athletico Paranaense





Roberto Firmino


Al-Ahli SFC






Left winger

Al-Hilal SFC




Is Neymar the best Brazilian soccer player?
Neymar of Brazil poses during the official Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup portrait session on November 20, 2022, in Doha, Qatar. Photo by Buda Mendes - FIFA.
Source: Getty Images

Final word

The best Brazilian soccer players of all time have shaped the beautiful game, influencing other players in other nations to perform excellently. Additionally, players such as Pelé have contributed to the development of the sport itself and the sport's culture.

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Ciku Njuguna photo
Ciku Njuguna
Ciku Njuguna is a journalist with 3 year’s experience in content creation based in Kenya. She currently covers sports personnel as well as team biographies.