Skillful players are perhaps the most fascinating set of players to watch on a football pitch. Nothing beats the thrill of watching these amazing superstars entertain us with their incredible abilities, leaving opposition teams dumbfounded as they perform magic with the ball at their feet.
It goes without saying that many skillful players have made their impact felt in the sport in its long and illustrious history. Apart from putting a smile on the faces of fans with their mesmerizing displays, these players have also enjoyed very successful careers at club and international levels.
It is such a gargantuan task to rank the most skillful players in football history. This is because many exceptional names come to mind, thereby, creating a selection headache. Nevertheless, we’ve had a close look at these names and managed to come up with a list of five who stand out from the pack.
5 Diego Maradona
The now late Argentina legend was a pure joy to watch during his days on the football pitch. He was easily the most skillful player of his generation, making many fall in love with the game with his exploits on the field.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 4, 2014
Diego Maradona was a pure magician with the ball at his feet, pulling off some of the most ridiculous moves ever witnessed in the sport. His close control, sharp turning and technique on the ball allowed him to single-handedly destroy opposition defenses almost at will.
The former Napoli star enjoyed a fabulous spell at the top of the game. Maradona’s exploits at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico are part of football folklore. His performances, which included the iconic “Hand of God” and “Goal of the Century” goals, led Argentina to their second World Cup win.
On this day 35 years ago, Diego Maradona gave us two of the most iconic goals of all time, “The Hand of God” and the “Goal of the Century” 🙌
Fly high, Diego 🔟 🇦🇷
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 22, 2021
He also won multiple trophies at club level, playing for the likes of Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla.
4 Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is without doubt one of the most skillful players in football at the moment. The Argentine has been at the top of the game for almost two decades, running riot with his magical efforts on the ball.
Similar to Maradona, Messi has a low center of gravity that allows him to change direction swiftly, penetrating opposition defenses using his close control, sharp turning and amazing technique.
Lionel Messi is the highest-rated player on FIFA 22 🌟 pic.twitter.com/1oioOtkm7V
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 13, 2021
The 34-year-old has written his name in the history books, winning the most number of Ballon d’Or awards (7). Lionel Messi has won everything there’s to win at club level, including four Champions League crowns, 10 domestic league titles and many more.
He recently led Argentina to a Copa America win, further soldifying his reputation as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.
Apart from being regarded by many as the greatest player in football history, Pele is also recognized as one of the most skillful players the sport has witnessed. Like most Brazilian attackers, the legendary forward thrived off his ability to dismantle opposition defenders with brilliant pieces of skill during his playing days.
Pele announced himself to the football world at a very young age, winning his first FIFA World Cup at just 17 years old in 1958. The Brazilian ended up winning the prestigious trophy on two more occasions before retiring in 1971, earning him the record for the most triumphs in the competition’s history.
At club level, the legendary forward claimed multiple titles playing for Santos, including the Brazilian league title, Copa Libertadores and the International Cup. He held the record for the most goals scored for a single club for several years before it was broken by Lionel Messi in December 2020.
#2 Zinedine Zidane
Known for his electrifying dribbles, incredible tricks and magical moves, it is no fluke that the Frenchman is ranked among the most skillful players in football history.
🗣 What do you think your best qualities are?
Zidane: My best qualities are link up play dribbling skills and passing
— United Zone (@ManUnitedZone_) December 29, 2019
Zinedine Zidane was a huge force to be reckoned with during his active playing days, destroying even some of the greatest teams in the world with his magic. His performance against Brazil in the 2006 FIFA World Cup will be remembered for several years.
The legendary midfielder enjoyed a very successful career representing the likes of Juventus, Real Madrid and the French national team. He won several honors, including the World Cup, Champions League, La Liga, Ballon d’Or and many more.
Ronaldinho belongs in a class of his own when it comes to rating the most skilled players in the history of football. In fact, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say the Brazilian is the epitome of skill in the sport.
Ronaldinho’s skills were just incredible 😵
The most entertaining footballer of all time? 🐐pic.twitter.com/VASFzuUKEn
— GOAL (@goal) November 18, 2018
Ronaldinho was getting applauded with every move he pulled off during his playing days. His movements, tricks and flicks came with so much flair that no one could resist falling in love with him.
Like the other names on this list, the Brazilian had a spectacular career, winning almost everything there’s to win in the sport. He has two FIFA POTY awards, one Ballon d’Or, one World Cup trophy and one Champions League crown in his cabinet to mention just a few.