TOP 10 Best Football Players of the Last 20 Years
Discover the most popular football players of the last 20 years with our comprehensive list. Topping the list are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have dominated in football with their impressive skills and record-breaking achievements. Other notable players include Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta. Explore their careers, trophies, and impact on football to understand why they have become some of the most beloved and influential players in football history.
Over the past two decades, we have seen some of the most incredible football players in history. From breathtaking goals to awe-inspiring skills, these players have left an indelible mark on football and captured the hearts of fans around the world.
Ronaldo, Neymar, Buffon, Shevchenko, Lamont’s, Gerrard, Javi, Casillas and lots of other legends could easily be in this list. However, we had to choose only 10 of them.
We have considered some factors: Players’ roles in their teams, in how many different leagues they have been able to win trophies, overall, how many trophies they have won, their unique styles, etc.
Here they are, enjoy!
10. Andrés Iniesta
Our list opens with Andrés Iniesta, a Spanish legend, who is one of the greatest midfielders in football history. He spent most of his professional career at Barcelona, where he won many domestic and international titles.
Iniesta’s playing style was characterized by his exceptional ball control, vision, and passing accuracy. He was also known for his agility and quick thinking, which allowed him to outmaneuver opponents and create scoring opportunities for his teammates.
During his time at Barcelona, Iniesta won 9 La Liga titles, 4 Champions League titles, and many other trophies. He also won the World Cup 2010 with Spain, scoring the winning goal in the final against the Netherlands.
9. Paolo Maldini
The Italian football legend, a real example of an iconic player, Paolo Maldini is one of the greatest, and most probably the best defender in football history. He spent his entire professional career at AC Milan, where he won every single possible and impossible trophy.
Maldini’s playing style was characterized by his impeccable defensive skills, including his tackling, marking, and game reading. He was also highly versatile, able to play as a full-back or a center-back with equal ease.
During his time at AC Milan, Maldini won 7 Serie A titles, 5 Champions League titles, and many other domestic and international trophies. He also captained the Italian national team for several years, playing in 4 World Cup tournaments and helping Italy reach the final in 1994 and third place in 1990.
Today, Maldini remains an icon of the game, with his legacy as a defender and a leader still highly valued. His contributions to football have earned him a place among the all-time greats, and he continues to inspire a new generation of players to strive for excellence both on and off the field.
8. David Beckham
English legend, David Beckham is one of the most iconic players of his generation. He began his career at Manchester United before moving on to play for Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan, and PSG.
Beckham was known for his incredible passing ability and his pinpoint accuracy when delivering crosses and set pieces. He also had leadership qualities that helped him captain both club and the national team.
Throughout his career, Beckham won many titles, including 6 Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups, and the Champions League. He was also part of the England national team that reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2002 and 2006.
Today, Beckham is considered a true legend, with his influence extending far beyond the pitch. He remains an inspiration to many young players, and his impact on football and popular culture will be felt for many years.
7. Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry is one of the greatest strikers of all time. He began his career at AS Monaco before moving to Juventus, but it was his time at Arsenal that truly cemented his place as a footballing legend.
Henry’s playing style was marked by his incredible pace, skill, and finishing ability. He used to score spectacular goals, and a talent for setting up his teammates with assists. He won many individual awards including the Ballon d’Or runner-up in 2003, and the Premier League Golden Boot a record four times.
During his career, Henry won two Premier League titles and two La Liga titles, as well as the Champions League and the FIFA World Cup in 1998. He is also France’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Henry’s impact on the game cannot be overstated, and he remains an inspiration to many aspiring footballers around the world.
6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the greatest football players of his generation. He has played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, and AC Milan.
Ibrahimovic is known for his incredible physical presence on the field, his skillful dribbling, and his powerful finishing ability. He has won numerous individual awards, including 12 Guldbollen (Swedish Player of the Year) awards, and has been named to the UEFA Team of the Year and the FIFPro World XI multiple times.
Throughout his career, Ibrahimovic has won many titles, including 7 Serie A, 4 Ligue 1, 1 La Liga, and 2 Eredivisie trophies.
Overall, Ibrahimovic’s unique combination of skill, power, and personality has made him one of the most exciting and entertaining players to watch, and a true football legend.
Brazilian and Milan legend, one of the greatest attacking midfielders of his generation, Kaka is 5th in our list. He began his career in Brazil with Sao Paulo before moving to Europe where he played for AC Milan and Real Madrid.
Kaka’s playing style was characterized by his exceptional vision, passing ability, and dribbling skills. He had a great eye for goal, and was equally adept at setting up his teammates. Kaka won numerous individual awards including the Ballon d’Or in 2007, and the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2007.
During his career, Kaka won several titles including the Champions League, Serie A, La Liga, and the FIFA Club World Cup. He also played a pivotal role in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup-winning team.
Kaka’s unique combination of skill, intelligence, and character has made him one of the most respected players of his generation.
4. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane is one of the greatest football players of all time. Starting his professional career in Cannes, he has played for legendary clubs such as Real Madrid and Juventus.
2-time Serie A and once La Liga winner, 2001–02 Champions League winner, European Championship and World Cup 1988 winner, and lots of other awards in his arsenal.
Zidane was known for his incredible technical ability, particularly his exceptional ball control and precise passing. He possessed an innate sense of timing and spatial awareness, which enabled him to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.
After retiring from playing, Zidane started a coaching career and quickly established himself as one of the best in the world.
The 3rd in our list is Ronaldinho, one of the most talented football players in history. He began his career with Gremio in Brazil before moving to Europe, where he played for clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, and AC Milan.
Ronaldinho was known for his incredible dribbling skills and ability to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. He was a master of the “flip-flap” move, which became his trademark move on the field.
During his time at Barcelona, Ronaldinho was instrumental in helping the team win two La Liga titles and the Champions League in the 2005-2006 season. He was also a key player for the Brazilian national team, helping them win the World Cup in 2002.
2005 Ballon d’Or winner, 2-time FIFA World Player of the Year, 2-time La Liga and once Champions League winner, FIFA World Cup 2002 winner, and these are just a part of his trophies.
2. Lionel Messi
Another football icon, Lionel Messi is one of the greatest football players of all time. Before moving to PSG, he has spent his entire professional career at FC Barcelona, where he has won 10 La Liga and 4 Champions League titles. Messi has also won 7 Ballon d’Or awards, making him the top player in the history of the award.
Besides, Messi won 1 Ligue 1 title, has become the World Cup 2022 champion with Argentina National team, was named the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009, won 6 European Golden Shoe and 2 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball awards, he has become the La Liga Best Player for 6 times, and so on.
Messi is known for his incredible dribbling skills, precise passing, and clinical finishing. Despite his relatively small stature, he possesses exceptional agility, speed, and balance, which allow him to maneuver past defenders with ease. He is also a prolific goal scorer, having scored over 700 career goals for club and country.
Overall, thanks to Messi’s exceptional skills, impressive achievements, and philanthropic efforts he has become one of the best ever in football.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Considered by many as the greatest football player of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Or awards and lots of other awards.
Starting his professional football career at Sporting CP, Ronaldo has played for the 3 top European National Leagues and legendary clubs, the Premier League – Manchester United, La Liga – Real Madrid, and the Serie A – Juventus.
5 FIFA Ballon d’Or/Ballon d’Or awards, once the FIFA World Player of the Year and twice the Best FIFA Men’s Player, 4 European Golden Shoes, one FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball award, Premier League, La Liga and Serie A Footballer of the Year, … 4-time Champions League, 3-time Premier League, 2-time La Liga, 2-time Serie A, UEFA European Championship winner, …
These are just a part of trophies and awards that Cristiano Ronaldo has managed to win during his football career. He is also the all-time leading goal-scorer for both Real Madrid and the Portugal national team, with over 700 career goals to his name.
Ronaldo’s physical and technical abilities on the field are unmatched. He is known for his incredible speed, strength, and agility, as well as his ability to score goals from almost any position on the field. His work ethic and professionalism are also highly regarded, and he is known for his rigorous training regimen and strict diet.
In the past 20 years, there have been many amazing football players who have impressed us with their skills and talent. These players have won our hearts and have made history in the sport.
From Cristiano Ronaldo to Lionel Messi, they have shown us their best moves and have achieved incredible things. Looking back at the top 10 best football players of the last 20 years, it’s clear that they have made a lasting impact on football and will be remembered for years to come.