The 11v11 World Player Ranking (2014 edition), a computer ranking of the world’s highest achieving football players of all time, is currently being updated for 2018.
The ranking measures player achievement by individual, club and national honours as well as performance for their countries across all international fixtures.
The top places in the 2014 ranking were taken by three Brazilians – Ronaldo is in first place, Pele in second and Cafu in third. In fourth place was Zinedine Zidane (FRA), with Lionel Messi (ARG), the highest player still playing, in fifth place.
The ranking was dominated by players from South America and Europe, but Africa had three players in Didier Drogba (CIV), Samuel Eto’o (CMR) and Nwankwo Kanu (NGA), CONCACAF had two representatives in Landon Donovan (USA) and Rafael Marquez (MEX) and Asia one in Ali Daei (IRN).
Unlike other listings of the greatest players, such as Pele’s FIFA 100, this ranking is not a subjective opinion or poll, but an objective computer ranking. This explains the absence of great stars such as George Best (NIR) & Eric Cantona (FRA) who played wonderful football but failed to win many trophies or play in the big tournaments at international level.
Which country had the most players in the ranking? No surprise to find Germany comes out top – with 14 players. Next in line were Spain and the Netherlands on 12, followed by Brazil (11), Italy (9) and England on just 6.
Modern football offers a lot more chances for players to achieve honours and win trophies whilst the big tournaments nowadays, such as the World Cup, include a lot more games than was the case in earlier eras. Nevertheless, players such as Pele (BRA), Beckenbauer (GER) and Maradona (ARG) featured highly in the ranking.
As the ranking is based on achievement, those players who have won a lot of trophies, (at domestic and/or international level) as well as having played a lot of international football tend to be higher up the list.
When we have crunched all the figures for 2018, it will be interesting to see if Ronaldo and Messi have racked up enough international appearances, trophies and honours, to top the 2018 edition of the 11v11 Player Ranking.