Top 10 FIFA World Cup heroes of all time

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

The ultimate goal of a football player and a football loving nation is surely the World Cup title. Football is a sport of team play, we can’t agree more about that, but throughout the history of the game as well as the World Cup tournament, so many times we see that the greatness of one man could help the whole team to beat the final obstacle and crown king.

With the draw for the 2022 World Cup qualifying for Europe coming up, will tell you how to watch and more.

Now, keep scroll and read.

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10. Johan Cruyff (Netherlands – 1974)


Age: 1947 – 2016

Position: Forward; Attacking Midfielder

World Cup tournaments/trophies: 1/0

Johan Cruyff is probably the greatest player that never won a World Cup (Messi and C. Ronaldo might both be next?).

Only have one appearance in the 1974 FIFA World Cup, with his creative playing style and technique, Johan Cruyff scored 3 goals and played a decisive part in leading the Netherlands team to the final.

The Netherlands at that time possessed the formidable squad and that squad seemed to run around him with the Total Football philosophy. Under his leadership on the field, the Netherlands romped to the finals and not conceding a single goal in the process.

The Oranje, however, stopped by the power of “Der Kaiser” Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller of West Germany. Even though his team lost the trophy, Johan Cruyff was still considered as the greatest player of that tournament and later awarded the Golden Ball for his outstanding performance.

9. Gerd Muller (West Germany – 1970, 1974)


Winner: 1974

Age: 1945

Position: Striker

World Cup tournaments/trophies: 2/1

Gerhard “Gerd” Muller

German legend nicknamed “Der Bomber” following his talented scoring ability and positioning. Gerd Muller is one of a few footballers that end his international career with an average goal per appearance ratio more than 1.0

Stocky and short yet possessed an amazing goal scoring instinct and unbelievable leap, Gerd Muller is one of the best goal-poachers of all time. He scored 68 goals for West Germany on 62 appearances, 14 of them were scored at World Cup finals.

He earned the Golden Boot for his world-class performance at the 1970 FIFA World Cup where he scored 10 out of 14 World Cup goals. In 1974, alongside Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller reached the ultimate glory by bringing home the World champion title after beating Johan Cruyff’s Oranje in the finals.

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8. Bobby Moore (England – 1962, 1966, 1970)


Winner: 1966

Age: 1941 – 1993

Position: Defender

World Cup tournaments/trophies: 3/1

Bobby Moore was made captain of England in 1964 and until his retirement in 1973, he had 108 national team appearances, a record at that time.

His ultimate moment, of course, was when he lifted the World Cup trophy in 1966 at Wembley stadium. He is the team’s inspiration and a stronghold on the backline that plays a decisive part in England’s victory.

Franz Beckenbauer once called him “the best defender ever”, you can imagine how talented he was given the man who said that is also one of the greatest defenders.

7. Zinedine Zidane (France – 1998, 2002, 2006)


Winner: 1998

Age: 1972

Position: Attacking midfielder

World Cup tournaments/trophies: 3/1

Despite the last memory for many of us about Zizou is the head-butting incident of the 2006 World Cup tournament that cost France the title, it’s hard to leave him out of the FIFA World Cup heroes of all time.

It’s because Zidane before playing the villain was the true hero of Le Bleus as his elegant style of play, vision and technique dragged the France National team to the final of 1998 World Cup, scoring 2 goals in 3-0 victory against the title defender Brazil.

6. Garrincha (Brasil – 1958, 1962, 1966)


Winner: 1958, 1962

Age: 1941 – 1993

Position: Winger

World Cup tournaments/trophies: 3/2

Debuted to the Brazilian team alongside with Pele in the 1958 World Cup and won the trophy, Garrincha was so good that Mel Hopkins – legends defender of Wales gave him this compliment: “Garrincha was more of a danger than Pelé I believe at the time, a phenomenon, capable of sheer magic.”

While every Brazilian mourned over the early injury that stopped Pele from participating in the rest of the 1962 World Cup. Garrincha stepped up and led the Selecao to the final game, where they beat Czechoslovakia 3-1 and successfully defended the trophy.

Whenever Garrincha and Pele play together, Brazil never loses a match. Some even said Garrincha was even better than Pele at the time.

5. Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany – 1966, 1970, 1974 and 1990 as a manager)


Winner: 1974, 1990 (as a manager)

Age: 1945

Position: Defender

World Cup tournaments/trophies: 3/1 as a player – 1/1 as a manager

“Der Kaiser” Franz Beckenbauer, the whole player known by the famous football motto: “The strong one doesn’t win, the one that wins is strong.” He is by far one of the greatest football legends alive.

He is one among three men who have won the FIFA World Cup as a player (1974) and as a manager (1990). At all the World Cups he played, “Der Kaiser” never finished lower than 3rd place.

Until this day, no player seems to imitate the exact same role as he did. He started his career as a midfielder and made his reputation as a central defender. He is the one who invented the “libero” (modern sweeper).

4. Miroslav Klose (Germany – 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)


Winner: 2014

Age: 1945

Position: Striker

World Cup tournaments/trophies: 4/1

The German striker is widely known for his acrobatic goal celebration, honest and fair play personality holds so many World Cup records that would take years to break.

Miroslav Klose is currently the all-time top scorer of Germany National football team with 71 goals. He is also the FIFA World Cup’s top scorer with 16 goals. He is the only player to play 4 consecutive semi-finals in the history of the tournament. 

Just like Franz Beckenbauer, Klose never finished lower than 3rd in every World Cup tournament he took part in, he is the only player to have had four or more (consecutive) World Cup medals. Plus, Germany’s team never lost a match in which he scored.

3. Ronaldo (Brazil – 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)


Winner: 1994, 2002

Age: 1976

Position: Striker

World Cup tournaments/trophies: 4/2

One of the most formidable strikers at both club and international levels. The one we called “O Fenomeno”, the one widely considered one of the greatest players of all times, the one that his individual titles would take papers to be enlisted.

If it was not for the mysterious disease hours before the 1998 World Cup final, he could have had his 3rd trophy. His career was on the other side of the hill in the 2006 tournament, but he still scored three more goals and surpassed Gerd Muller as the most goal scorer of the World Cup, a position he retained until Klose came along in 2014.

2. Pele (Brasil – 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970)


Winner: 1958, 1962, 1970

Age: 1940

Position: Forward

World Cup tournaments/trophies: 4/3

The only player who won 3 FIFA World Cup trophies. The youngest to win the trophy at the age of 17 years 249 days and the youngest to win 2 trophies at the age of 21. He is also the youngest to play, scored, and had a hat-trick in a FIFA World Cup.

Widely considered as the greatest footballer of all time, Pele played as an orchestra in four World Cup teams with Brazil, leading the Selecao to three victories over the course of that time.

1. Diego Maradona (Argentina – 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994)


Winner: 1986

Age: 1960 – 2020

Position: Attacking midfielder, Second striker

World Cup tournaments/trophies: 4/1

You can imagine how great he is just by looking at Messi. The two of them surprisingly share a lot of commons in body shape, heigh, playing style, scoring and dribbling practices, that included “Hand of God goal” and “Goal of the Century”.

Maradona was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award alongside Pele, but we put him on top of this list for a reason. Pele might have got more World Cup trophies than him, but Pele never single-handedly led an average team straight away to glory as he did in 1986.

Some of us might have the privilege of watching many of these legends at their finest. Some might be even luckier to have met one of them. We hope that in the closing era of Messi and C. Ronaldo, at least one of them could achieve ultimate glory by lifting the World Cup trophy before their retirement. 

World Cup 2022 is coming and preparations for the new season are underway. You can follow UEFA’s preliminary draw live at Or can also see an online football website All relevant details such as standings, groups, qualifying results, play-offs and progress will be fully updated.

Above are the top 10 Fifa World Cup heroes of all time. Do you agree with us on this list? Who do you want to add instead? Let us know your thoughts about the greatest FIFA heroes of all time.