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Best Midfielders of All Time

Zinedine Zidane, Lothar Matthaus, Bobby Charlton, and more! This article is about the best midfielders of all time.

We’ve compiled a list of the ten greatest midfielders in football history. Ten is a small number! So, many big names are left behind and missing from our list. Steven Gerrard is not in the top ten, and that’s a sin! Why can’t Paul Scholes be on here? We don’t even see Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. Shame on the low number of TEN!

Let’s keep it cool! Let’s take it easy and arrange a high list as Honorable Mention to heal and alleviate the moral guilt.

Who is the best midfielder in the history? Join us for the answer.

Honorable Mention:
Enzo Francescoli – Raymond Kopa – Didi – Steven Gerrard – Paul Scholes – Claude Makelele – Toni Kroos – Socrates – Johan Neeskens – Luka Modric – Michael Laudrup – Josef Masopust – Kaka – Kevin De Bruyne – Frank Rijkaard – Jozsef Bozsik – Pavel Nedved – Gianni Rivera – Gheorghe Hagi – Bastian Schweinsteiger – Clarence Seedorf – Rivellino – Gerson – David Beckham – Zbigniew Boniek – Ryan Giggs – Luis Figo – Wesley Sneijder – Patrick Vieira – Zizinho – Xabi Alonso – Teofilo Cubillas – Paul Gascoigne – Marco Tardelli – N’Golo Kante – Michael Ballack

Best Midfielders of All Time

Best Midfielders of All Time
credit: getty images

Here’s our top-ten list of the best midfielders of all time:

  • Zinedine Zidane
  • Michel Platini
  • Zico
  • Iniesta
  • Lothar Matthaus
  • Bobby Charlton
  • Ronaldinho
  • Andrea Pirlo
  • Frank Lampard
  • Xavi

Read More: Greatest Number 10s in Football History


Greatest Midfielders of All Time
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The man who plays in the middle of the field. A midfielder. The runner of the legendary side of Barcelona.

Xavi is one of the greatest Spanish footballers and one of the best midfielders of all time. He is considered one of the biggest legends in Barcelona history.

A deep-lying playmaker, Xavi was a revolutionary midfielder. The most important element in his playing style was his thoroughness. He was a midfielder who played not with his feet but with his eyes. He had the whole field under his watch and usually would do a 360-degree turn to find the right pass, which many midfielders imitated after him.

Imagine being Messi, and behind you, there are Xavi and Iniesta. Shouldn’t you win all the trophies? Here’s why Xavi Hernandez is one of the most decorated players of all time. He won 32 trophies during his career, including eight La Liga, four Champions Leagues, two European Championships, and a World Cup.

With a tally of 767, Xavi is the second most-capped player in Barcelona history. With a tally of 133, he is the fourth most-capped player in the Spain national team. Xavi was one of the greatest central midfielders of all time.

Read More: Best Spanish Footballers of All Time

Frank Lampard

Best Midfielders of All Time
credit: getty images

Over 300 career goals for a central midfielder! The top scorer in Chelsea history. One of the best midfielders of all time.

Frank Lampard was a box-to-box midfielder. He could be seen all over the pitch. He played a defensive midfielder role, playmaking for his side, creating chances, and scoring goals. He was scoring a lot of goals!

Lampard is the sixth top scorer in Premier League history, ahead of Thierry Henry, Michael Owen, and Mohamed Salah! In 609 Premier League appearances, Frank Lampard scored 177 goals, assisting 102 more. He’s the fourth top assist provider in the history of the competition.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in Premier League history, Frank Lampard scored +10 league goals in ten consecutive seasons. The English midfielder scored 22 Premier League goals in the 2009-10 season, assisting 16 more. Lampard holds the record for the most goals scored from outside the box in Premier League history. He was one of the best central midfielders of all time.

A central midfielder is the all-time top scorer in one of the biggest clubs in the world. Frank Lampard was a Chelsea player from 2001 to 2014, scoring 211 goals for the Blues. They adore him at Stamford Bridge.

Read More: Best Chelsea Players of All Time

Andrea Pirlo

Best Midfielders of All Time
credit: getty images

At first glance, he looked more like an actor in an Angelopoulos film. A calm and dignified man whose presence made the atmosphere heavy.

That’s what he was. The man in the middle of the pitch. Standing with firm stature and a gracious gaze. A man who made the atmosphere heavy with his presence. Putting weight on the ground and giving credit to the game. When you saw him, you knew that was big men’s territory. That’s not a game. It’s more than just a game. And perhaps, much more important than life and death.

With that classic icon and that seriousness of a mentor, he was the noble romance of football. His look had the depth of a naturalist painter, and his steps had the elegance of an original Italian variation.

He was calm. He would run in peace. He was hitting the ball softly. He was playing it quietly. At his play, there was the sound of a bird came flying. Up and up until the sun is like a burning ball, burning the eyes of the galaxy. At his play, there was a cry of a bird embracing the sun and burning.

He was the centerpiece of a magnificent symphony of the southern lands. Master of all the steps from idea to practice, from rhythm to harmony. Andrea Pirlo.

Read More: Andrea Pirlo Biography


Best Midfielders of All Time
credit: getty images

Although Ronaldinho sometimes played as a winger during his career, his primary position was attacking midfielder. The Brazilian is one of the best midfielders of all time, as well as one of the most technically gifted players in football history.

His story was what Holderlin -the German poet of insanity- said: Singing poetry is the most innocent of things…

He didn’t want anything out of football. He just wanted the football. He didn’t care if this was the Camp Nou or the Porto Alegre ravens. He was laughing and playing. Innocence was his keyword.

A poet who stared at the moon and filled his head with madness. He was separating from the world and entering his own system—a place where he regains his childhood.

Away from the sad world of adults. Among the fog and the horns of the ships and towards the stars, there was a lonely poet who walked the rain-soaked alleys of the port. He walked and whispered a poem of that Greek poet under his lips: Undoubtedly, the evening star must have been somewhere, fluttering his flowers over the sadness of the world.

He was not like the others. In his eyes, there was a warm dream of freedom. A song by a countryman. He would sing, and his lyrics would be a spectacle. His legs were the shrine of the red shepherds of the Tibetan tribe. He knew that beauty is the most precious gift in the world. A poet who was only committed to beauty. The poet of football. Ronaldinho.

Read More: Ronaldinho Biography

Bobby Charlton

Bobby Charlton
credit: getty images

One of the greatest English footballers and one of the greatest midfielders of all time: Sir Bobby Charlton.

He played as a central midfielder, an attacking midfielder, and a winger during his career. Bobby Charlton is one of the greatest legends in Manchester United history. Charlton was a member of the club from 1956 to 1973 and recorded 758 appearances for them. He is the second most-capped player in Manchester United history, behind only Ryan Giggs. With a tally of 249, the English midfielder is the second all-time top scorer for the Red Devils, behind only Wayne Rooney.

During his career, Bobby Charlton won three league titles, a European Cup, and a World Cup. He was selected as the best player in the 1966 World Cup and received the Golden Ball award. He scored twice in the 1968 European Cup final, winning the trophy for his side.

Charlton won the Ballon d’Or in 1966. He also came second in the two following years.

Read More: Best Players of the 1960s

Lothar Matthaus

Lothar Matthaus
credit: getty images

There was a midfielder who plowed the football field. He played at the highest level of football for more than two decades. He made everyone respect him with his first-class dynamism and athleticism. He was Lothar Matthaus.

During his career, the legend played for clubs like Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayern Munich, and Inter Milan. A box-to-box midfielder, Matthaus is considered one of the most complete footballers of all time and one of the best midfielders in the world. With his stamina, ball carrying, leadership power, and excellent passing, Lothar Matthaus was an infinitely energetic machine in the midfield—one of a kind, one in all history.

Captaining his side, Matthaus led Germany to the 1990 World Cup final. He lifted the trophy up and won the Ballon d’Or in the same year. In the late eighties and early nineties, when he was playing for Inter Milan, Lothar Matthaus -alongside Diego Maradona- was considered the best in the world. In his book, Maradona praised the German midfielder, saying Matthaus was the best player he ever played against.

His manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, summed it up in one sentence:

I admire Platini, I admire Maradona, but to win, I need Matthaus.

Read More: Best Players of the 1980s


Best Midfielders of All Time
credit: getty images

Iniesta or Xavi? Well, two of the best midfielders of all time have played together for Barcelona for years. The most iconic midfield duo in football history have won it all together. They’ve won La Liga and Champions League multiple times, conquered the UEFA Euro twice, and brought Spain’s only World Cup title. Regarding that question, Xavi himself said:

Iniesta is easily Spain’s most complete player.

Known for his technique, agility, and playmaking in close spaces, exceptional vision, and perfect passing, Andres Iniesta was one of the best midfielders of all time. The Spaniard was named the La Liga Best Midfielder five times, more than anyone else. He was made six times into the UEFA Team of the Year, more than any other midfielder.

Iniesta scored the only goal in the 2010 World Cup Final. He was named Man of the Match in both the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship. Iniesta wasn’t a fast player, but you could never catch him. He had some magic in his feet, some miracle that transformed the Barcelona midfielder into one of the most unique footballers in the world.

Do you remember that Andres Iniesta played badly for once? We don’t!

Read More: Best Players of the 2010s


credit: getty images

A midfielder who scored more than 500 goals during his career. Even by Frank Lampard’s standards, this is unattainable.

Regarded as one of the best Brazilian footballers ever, Zico is one of the best midfielders of all time, and everyone agrees on this. He was an absolute class. Zico carried elegance in his feet that could only be compared to the best in the sport. Maradona’s technique and Iniesta’s vision together form Zico.

The Brazilian spent most of his career at Flamengo. With a tally of 508, Zico is the top scorer in the club’s history. 508 goals for a midfielder! He was a freak phenomenon.

With a tally of 48, Zico is the fifth all-time top scorer in the Brazil national team. His goal ratio is better than even Ronaldo Nazario and Neymar Jr.’s, but should we talk about his playmaking class? It’s enough that Zico was the playmaker of the legendary Brazil in the eighties. He was running Jogo Bonito. He led the most beautiful orchestra in football.

The Brazilian midfielder scored four goals for his country in the 1982 World Cup, assisting four. But the beautiful football failed against Italy’s defensive style, and one of the greatest teams of all time failed to succeed. The match between Brazil and Italy in the 1982 World Cup is considered one of the most important matches in the game’s history.

Zico said: “The world of football will pay for Brazil’s defeat against Italy.”

They didn’t understand what he said until a decade later.

Read More: Best Brazilian Footballers of All Time

Michel Platini

Michel Platini
credit: getty images

Speaking of goalscoring midfielders, Michel Platini scored over 350 goals during his career. He played for Juventus for five seasons and became the Serie A top scorer on three occasions. While playing for Bianconeri, he won the Ballon d’Or three years in a row.

Regarded as one of the best passers of all time, the French midfielder possessed an unmatched technique, elegance, and creativity. Platini was considered the smartest player of his generation. He didn’t have a strong physique or super athleticism. However, the ball could never be taken from him. He was Michel Platini, one of the greatest ever.

During his career, Le Roi won the Serie A, the European Cup, and the European Championship. He scored the only goal in the 1985 European Cup final. Juventus beat Liverpool 1-0 and became the European champions for the first time.

The 1984 European Championship was even more magnificent. Michel Platini scored 9 goals in 5 matches in this tournament, scoring in all matches for his country. Four decades later, Platini still holds the record for the most goals scored in a single Euro tournament.

Another special skill he had was his ability to take set pieces. To learn more about this, go to YouTube right now and search these keywords: Platini Free Kick!

Read More: Best French Footballers of All Time

Zinedin Zidane

Best Midfielders of All Time
credit: getty images

The photo belongs to the UEFA Euro 2000 in Brugge, Belgium. The tournament in which Zidane dribbled the whole of Europe for another round. France beat Italy in the final, and Zidane was selected as the tournament’s best player, just two years after scoring two goals in a World Cup final and defeating Ronaldo, the best of the era.

It was only two years later that Zizou scored the most dreadful goal of the century in the Champions League final and formed the portrait of the 21st century. A little later, Brazil, this time with all its stars, stood in front of the artist’s face, and Zidane thought to himself that there were still three 90 minutes left before the end; now it’s time to have fun.

Zidane started the World Cup final with fun. He stood in front of Buffon in the seventh minute and made a panenka. It was worse than a swear word for Gigi. The post was also laughing secretively.

But when only ten minutes are left, laughter is not an option. Zidane sneered and shot…

May human beings not be forgotten.

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Steve Reyne
Steve Reyne
He is a senior writer and journalist. He's interested in the history of the game and his focus is on the Premier League.


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