Can You Name History's Greatest Soccer Players From a Photo?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo

This Portuguese forward has consistently proven why he’s considered to be one of the greatest players the sport has ever produced. Ronaldo has played for both Manchester United and Real Madrid, as well as the Portugal national team, amassing a stunning total of 650 senior career goals along the way. For the 2016 – 2017 season, just as he had done a year earlier, he topped a field of 24 brilliant players and was voted The Best FIFA Men's Player.

Soccer legend Pelé was a member of three champion Brazilian World Cup teams. After 1281 goals in 1363 games, Pelé holds the record for being league soccer’s most successful scorer. He was named along with Argentina’s Diego Maradona, as joint winners of FIFA’s Player of the Century Award in 2000.

Although he has since signed on to Manchester United, Alexis Sánchez’s 24 goals in 38 matches helped Arsenal through its campaign in the 2016 – 2017 Premier League. This Chilean forward was also instrumental to his national team as they made their way to the final of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Neymar’s innate skills at the game showed from an early age, leading him to make his professional debut at age 17. He put those skills on full display at the 2016 Summer Olympics where he was captain of the host Brazilian national team and took his country to its first Olympic gold medal in soccer.

With accolades like “best ever” and “greatest soccer player of all time” constantly being showered upon him, Argentine forward Lionel Messi has a lot to live up – and he most certainly does! This one-club man has spent his entire senior career with FC Barcelona, but there isn’t a soccer fan anywhere in the world who doesn’t know his name.

For the 2016 – 2017 season, Paulo Dybala was joint top-scorer in the Coppa Italia. This Argentine forward also made his way onto the season’s FIFA list of the top 24 players in the world. His all-around talent in the sport has earned him the Spanish nickname “La Joya” which means “The Jewel.”

France’s Zinedine Zidane is widely regarded as one of the legends of the game. He famously converted two corner kicks into goals in the 1998 World Cup, leading France to a 3 – 0 win over Brazil. Zidane was named Player of the Year by FIFA in 1998, 2000 and 2003.

English striker Harry Kane amassed 29 goals, including four hat tricks in the 2016 – 2017 Premier League. That made him the league’s top scorer and booked him a spot on FIFA’s list of the top 24 players in the world for the season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was listed by FIFA as one of the top 24 players in the world for the 2016 – 2017 season. Contributing to that honor is the fact that he made nine Champions League appearances and scored seven goals. Aubameyang is also a member of the Gabon national team, following in the footsteps of his father.

In 2000, Argentina’s Maradona was voted joint FIFA Player of the 20th Century along with Brazil’s Pelé. Maradona holds another FIFA title, that of Goal of the Century, for the second goal he scored against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter final, which Argentina went on to win 2 – 1. The first goal has become infamously known as the “Hand of God,” as it was scored from handling of the ball for which Maradona was not penalized.

Kevin De Bruyne is often referred to as one of the best soccer players in the world, at present. This Belgian midfielder who made 51 appearances for German club Wolfsburg between 2014 and 2015 was named Footballer of the Year in Germany.

Defensive midfielder N’Golo Kanté won the English Premier League title with Leichester City in the 2015 – 2016 season and followed that up with another win when he joined Chelsea in the next season. That feat, of back-to-back wins with different teams, had last been accomplished by Eric Cantona (another French player) in 1992 and 1993 with Leeds United and Manchester United, respectively.

When all the games he played in the 2016 – 2017 season are considered, this French striker scored an average of one goal for every two games. His enviable knack of finding the back of the net was partly responsible for FIFA placing Antoine Griezmann among the 24 top players in the world for the season.

Luis Suárez is a Uruguayan striker who has racked up over 400 goals since his professional career began in 2005. His time on the field for the Uruguay national team has led to him scoring more goals than any other Uruguayan player, ever. Suárez rounds out the top 10 on FIFA’s list of the world’s best players for the 2016 – 2017 season.

Leonardo Bonucci’s consistency on the field got him onto FIFA’s list of the top 24 players in the world for the 2016 – 2017 season. This Italian player, who represented Juventus, also made it onto UEFA’s Squad of the Season.

Dutch player and coach Johan Cruyff won the Ballon d'Or three times (1971, 1973 and 1974). In 2007, Cruyff was named on Pelé’s FIFA 100 list of the greatest living footballers and in 2017 he was selected as one of the 10 greatest coaches since the formation of UEFA.

This central defender is captain to both the Real Madrid and Spain national teams. Under his leadership, Real Madrid took the La Liga title in the 2016 – 2017 season, then went on to stamp their dominance over the Champions League. For his efforts, FIFA placed Sergio Ramos at number 5 on its list of the top 24 players in the world for the season.

German Toni Kroos dominated midfield play in the 2016 – 2017 season. That’s no surprise really, since he has been the IFFHS World's Best Playmaker (2014). It’s also no surprise that he made it into the top 10 on FIFA’s list of the 24 best players in the 2016 – 2017 season.

Midfielder Luka Modrić captains the Croatia national team and helped his club, Real Madrid, to successive Champions League titles in 2016 and 2017. He placed squarely inside the top 10 when FIFA revealed its list of the 2016 -2017 season’s best players in the world.

One-club man Paolo Maldini spent his entire senior career with A.C. Milan where he won 23 trophies, including five UEFA Champions League titles. Before his retirement, this Italian defender made numerous appearances for A.C. Milan and the Italy national team, serving as captain of both teams for many years.

This rising French soccer star has played for club Paris Saint-Germain and club Monaco. His all-around football talents in the forward position have been widely praised, earning him a spot on the France national team. Mbappé scored his first senior international in a 2018 World Cup qualification match against the Netherlands on August 31, 2017.

This attacking midfielder from Brazil has distinguished himself as both a player and a coach. Zico is widely regarded as one of the best players the sport has ever produced. In 2007, his abilities as a playmaker and at bending the ball earned him a place on Pelé’s FIFA 100 list of the greatest living footballers.

Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made a sterling contribution to Juventus’ claim on the Italian championship title in the 2016 – 2017 season. His 67 saves and 12 clean sheets from 30 Serie A games got him 4th place on the FIFA panel’s list of the top 24 players in the world. He bettered that result by topping FIFA’s similar list of goalkeepers for the season.

Sergio Agüero puts his skills as a striker on display for both Manchester City and the Argentine national team. He holds the distinction of being the youngest ever player to debut in the Argentine Primera División, which he did at just 15 years and 35 days. The record was previously held by soccer great Diego Maradona, who in 1976 debuted in the league 10 days before his 16th birthday.

English midfielder David Beckham spent 20 years as a professional soccer player and has since moved on to become a global ambassador for the sport. His crossing ability and bending free-kicks are just a part of the reason he has been inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame (2008) and holds a spot on Pelé’s FIFA 100 list of the greatest living footballers (2007).

Alfredo Di Stéfano was an Argentine forward who played on both the Argentina and Spain national teams. He spent most of his senior career with Real Madrid for whom he made 282 appearances, amassing 216 goals. Di Stéfano is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most complete players in the history of soccer.

This Uruguayan striker represents French club Paris Saint-Germain and has made appearances with the Uruguay U20, Uruguay Olympic and Uruguay national teams. In the 2012 – 2013 season, while Cavani played for club Napoli, he was the top scorer in Italy's Serie A league with 29 goals.

Polish striker Robert Lewandowski punctuated his 47 appearances in the 2016 – 2017 season with a total of 43 goals. Few could match his penalty box efficiency and he was rewarded for his efforts with a spot among FIFA’s top 24 players in the world for the season.

Isco's talents as an attacking midfielder have certainly not gone unnoticed. He has been a part of several of his country’s teams beginning with the Spain U16 in 2008 and now is a member of the Spain national team. So far, Isco has made 154 appearances, with his club Real Madrid and has 31 goals to his credit.

This French midfielder is a true soccer legend who has influenced the game in every capacity possible. He was a prolific goal scorer who played for Italian club Juventus and represented France in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups. Platini was coach of the France national team for four years and at one point was President of UEFA.

When FIFA named Zlatan Ibrahimović among the top 24 players in the world for the 2016 – 2017 season, it was just one of numerous accolades showered on this Swedish striker throughout his career. In fact, Ibrahimović, who has captained the Swedish national team, is among the most-decorated active soccer players in the world.

Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas played 27 matches for his club Real Madrid in the 2016 – 2017 season. His 82 saves helped him to capture 3rd place on FIFA’s list of the 15 best goalkeepers for the season.

Hungarian player Ferenc Puskás is generally viewed as one of the sport’s greatest players. In fact, he was universally regarded as “the best ever” until Brazilian soccer star Pelé came along. In recognition of his contributions to the game, Puskás was named on Pelé’s FIFA 100 list of the greatest living footballers.

Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal proved to be indispensable to his club Bayern Munich during the 2016 – 2017 season. At the end of the season, he put his talents to work for the Chile national team in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. In that competition, he was named “man of the match” in Chile’s opening game against Cameroon.

Spanish right back Dani Carvajal overcame bouts of injury to take a spot on FIFA’s list of the top 24 players in the world for the 2016 – 2017 season. Carvajal was ranked 8th by UEFA in its pick of the top 10 defenders of the season.

Mohamed Salah is an Egyptian forward who plays for both Liverpool and the Egypt national team. He was instrumental in helping Egypt qualify for 2018 FIFA World Cup and was honored by being named both CAF and BBC African Footballer of the Year.

A true workhorse in the left back position, Brazilian player Marcelo has had his prolific talents applauded by such soccer greats as Diego Maradona and Paolo Maldini. His skills and invaluable contribution to Real Madrid’s claim of the Champions League title put Marcelo inside the top 10 on FIFA’s list of the 24 best players in the world for the 2016 – 2017 season.

Spanish midfielder Andrés Iniesta is a one-club man, having spent his entire professional career with the same team. It’s something you won’t hear FC Barcelona complain about especially since Iniesta, who captains the team, is on FIFA’s list of the 24 best players in the world for the 2016 – 2017 season.

German player Franz Beckenbauer made his mark on the game as a central defender. His legacy includes being credited with inventing the role of the modern sweeper.

At the end of the 2016 – 2017 season, Manuel Neuer was ranked 2nd by FIFA on its list of best goalkeepers. With his sweeper-keeper techniques, Neuer has proven indispensable to Bayern Munich and the Germany national team, both of which he captains.

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About This Quiz

Gooooaal! Get ready to relive some of your best soccer memories with a lineup of the greatest players currently on the field and from yesteryear.

While scholars of the game (read: diehard fans) will get into heated arguments as to who was THE GREATEST soccer player ever, there a few names which we know will always pop up. Like, the Portuguese legend known by a single name, or the Argentine number 10 famous for his "handy and holy" goal. Know which two we're hinting at? We're sure you do, so set your sights on the quiz!

There are many players from the past who made their mark on the game and went on to become managers and coaches responsible for the careers of present-day greats. Those new stars include the English striker with 4 hat tricks and a total of 29 goals in a recent season of the Premier League. Now, he's not just any Tom, Dick or Harry - or maybe he is. Take the quiz to find out!

If you're a soccer fan who takes pride in knowing the history of the game while keeping up with all its current happenings, then this quiz is definitely for you. So, don your favorite jersey, slather on that face paint and let the game begin!

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