The 10 best players in the world


The FIFA World Cup has showcased the world’s best footballers on the biggest stage for the better part of a century.

But who is the greatest player in World Cup history?

Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Micah Richards discussed the issue on the Last Match of the Day: Top 10 podcast.

You can listen to the BBC Sounds podcast and have your say by ranking your choices at the bottom of this page.

Gary Lineker (Richards: 10th, Shearer: 9th)

Lineker scored 10 goals in 12 World Cup matches for England

England’s all-time World Cup goalscorer, Lineker found the net 10 times in 12 matches at the 1986 and 1990 tournaments. Lineker scored six to win the Golden Boot in 1986 and another four in 1990 to help Bobby Robson’s side reach the semi-finals, losing in a shootout against West Germany.

Richards: Ten goals in 12 games is good.

Cutter: He made 12 World Cup appearances and scored 10 goals. He won the Golden Boot and made the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

Linear: I don’t know what I’m doing with this list…

Johan Cruyff (Richards: 6th, Shearer: 10th)

Cruyff played against Argentina in the 1974 World Cup
Cruyff helped the Netherlands beat Argentina and Brazil at the 1974 World Cup before losing to West Germany in the final.

Arguably the greatest player never to win the World Cup, the three-time Ballon d’Or winner scored three goals to help the Netherlands reach the 1974 final, losing to West Germany. Cruyff retired in 1977, a year before the Dutch lost the final again in 1978 against Argentina.

Richards: There is a round named after him, it must be special.

Cutter: He only played in one World Cup and this is purely based on his World Cup performances. In no way am I saying that Lineker is a better player than Cruyff, it’s just that his World Cup record is ninth.

Bobby Moore (Richards: 9th, Shearer: 6th)

Moore celebrates with the trophy and his England teammates
Moore is lifted by his England teammates after the 1966 World Cup final

A titan in England’s World Cup history, Moore captained the Three Lions in the 1966 tournament on home soil. After Moore’s death in 1993, Pele said the West Ham legend was the toughest defender he had faced during his career.

Richards: You watch videos and hear how great these players were.

Cutter: He was the captain of England at the age of 22. I’ve seen pictures of him, but to be captained at 22 after his 12th cap, that says how good he must have been. He also won the World Cup, amazing.

Gerd Muller (Richards: 7th, Shearer: 7th)

Gerd Muller lifts the World Cup trophy
Muller scored the winning goal in the 1974 final

One of the greatest goalscorers the World Cup has ever seen, Muller scored 10 goals to help West Germany to third place in 1970 and scored four goals in the victorious 1974 campaign, including the winner in the final. Muller scored 14 goals in 13 World Cup matches.

Cutter: Fourteen goals in 13 World Cup games, 10 in the World Cup. Wow

Linear: It was similar [Sergio] Aguero, a player in the penalty area, incredibly fast and a real catcher. Cruyff’s World Cup-winning goal against Holland featured Muller. The way he spun and spun, he was a fantastic player. His numbers are there. My heroes were Frank Worthington, Peter Shilton and Muller was my international hero.

Franz Beckenbauer (Richards: 8th, Shearer: 5th)

Beckenbauer lifted the World Cup trophy in 1974
Beckenbauer captained West Germany to football’s biggest prize in 1974, before winning it as manager in 1990.

As captain, ‘Der Kaiser’ captained West Germany to the World Cup title at home in 1974, beating the Netherlands in the final. Beckenbauer is also one of three men to win the World Cup as a player and coach (along with Brazilian Mario Zagallo and French Didier Deschamps).

Lineker: He was an original sweeper and came out of defense with the ball.

Zinedine Zidane (Richards: 5th, Shearer: 8th)

Zidane World Cup trophy
Zidane scored twice in France’s 3-0 win over Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final

Zizou’s World Cup career got off to the perfect start as he scored twice in the final to help France win on home soil. Injury limited him to just one appearance in Les Bleus’ poor defense in 2002, but he returned to form four years later in Germany, leading Raymond Domenech’s side to the final, where Zidane scored and was memorable for heading Italy’s Marco Materazzi. in the chest because France lost on penalties.

Richards: Technically, it was one of the best ever.

Cutter: The best player I have ever played against. The balance was incredible, it was overwhelming.

Lothar Matthaus (Richards: 4th, Shearer 4th)

Matthaus celebrates scoring in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup
Matthaus is one of only three players, along with Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal and Rafael Marquez, to have played in five World Cups.

Germany’s all-time capped player, Matthaus captained West Germany to success at Italia ’90, beating Maradona-led Argentina in the final. Matthaus is one of only three players to have played in five World Cups and holds the record for most appearances with 25.

Richards: Going to five World Cups is incredible, and he won one.

Cutter: He played in five World Cups and made 25 appearances. I played against him in Euro 2000 and it was his last game when we won 1-0. Fantastic player.

Ronaldo (Richards: 3rd, Shearer 2nd)

Ronaldo celebrates the 2002 victory in Brazil
Ronaldo was the all-time leading scorer at the World Cup with 15, until Germany’s Miroslav Klose surpassed his mark in 2014.

Another Brazilian icon, Ronaldo, lifted the famous trophy twice: in 1994 and 2002. Although he did not feature in Brazil’s 1994 victory, he scored four goals to reach the 1998 final, where he was left out of the squad. it must be recovered before the start. France won that year, but Ronaldo really made his mark four years later, scoring eight goals—including two in the final against Germany—as Brazil regained their title as world champions.

Cutter: It was unbelievable, we have talked about Ronaldo so many times. Brazilianness Another reason I was second was 19 games, 15 goals and five assists.

Diego Maradona (Richards: 2nd; Shearer: 3rd)

Maradona World Cup trophy
Maradona captained Argentina in the second World Cup in Mexico ’86

Like Pele, the Argentine who played in four World Cups, captained his country in the second World Cup in 1986. Maradona was almost unstoppable that year in Mexico, scoring five goals, including two against England in the quarter-finals: ‘Hand of the Hand of’. A god goal and a brilliant individual effort that ranks among the tournament’s greatest ever strikes. Having lost the 1990 final to West Germany, Maradona’s World Cup career ended in disgrace in 1994 when he was sent home for failing a drugs test.

Linear: Before Messi came along there was always that debate between Brazil and Argentina, who was the best Pele or Maradona?

Pele – (Richards: 1st, Shearer: 1st)

Pele celebrates Brazil's 1970 victory
Pele scored four goals in Brazil’s 1970 World Cup triumph, including the opener in their 4-1 final victory over Italy.

Considered by many to be the best player at the World Cup, Pele was just 17 when he helped Brazil win the 1958 tournament in Sweden. The legendary striker would also win the 1962 and 1970 World Cups, the latter winning the Ballon d’Or for best player. Pele scored 12 goals in 14 World Cup matches for Brazil in four tournaments.

Richards: Pele should be the winner.

Cutter: You can’t imagine coming from Brazil at that age, that pressure. They are expected to win all the championships, in every game they play, they play an incredible role wherever they go. Amazing player.

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