Ya know sonny in my day the best soccer players didn't have all these fancy shoes and instagrams, nobody comes close to Pele, Cryuff and Mardadona is what I say. Who are the real GOATS? The eternal question from the beginning of the game and every generation claims their players are the best ever. Below you'll find another controversial list but my greatest players of all time, I can see the head shaking from here.
What may be more important to help you improve your game then knowing who is the best is how they got there. What are some of the qualities and attributes it takes to be considered among the best soccer players every to grace a pitch. As you start planning to accomplish your next goal in your game knowing what the best of the best had to go through to get there can help you understand just what it takes. Whether it's on the field, off the field, physical or mental knowing all the things that go into becoming among the best soccer players ever is invaluable information to help you become the best version of yourself. Will you become among the best ever? Let's find out.
2. De Bruyne
3. Van Dyke
3. Ronaldo (Cristiano)
5. Ronaldo (Nasario)
If you want to see how Sports Illustrated Ranked the 50 greatest players ever feel free to have a look here, The 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time.
1. Soccer IQ - This quality is one of the most difficult to measure and develop among players but may be the most important of them all. The soccer IQ necessary to be among the best soccer players ever is off the charts, this includes being able to make great decisions on and off the ball, understanding space and time and knowing how to unlock the defence. A players ability to navigate through a game while making as little mistakes as possible and putting themselves in advantageous positions is the king of all skills.
2. Outcome (Goals, Assists etc.) - You've got to affect the score sheet. Whether it's scoring goals, assisting them or playing dangerous balls that put your teammates in positions to score you have to be what is known as a game changer. If you look at the best soccer players in the history of the game they have all affected scoring or assisting in some way. Now if you're a defender same rules apply you still have to affect the game sheet by keeping clean sheets, stopping goal scoring chances and even chipping in with a goal or two like the Sergio Ramos and Cryuff's of the world.
3. Consistency - To be the best of the best you have to show up and play at least your 8/10 best game every time out. Being able to show up every game and produce at the highest level is what separates great for world class. We all see those players that are incredible but one game they are on fire and the next they are a ghost, being able to bring it every time out is the difference. To improve your consistency as a player you need to start building in pre-performance routines for practice and games. What you eat the night before, how much you sleep, train and how you prepare your mind are all vital pieces of improving your consistency.
4. Make Those Around Them Better - While all great players are creating goals for themselves the best soccer players ever not only do that but make everyone around them look and play better as well. Players at the highest level are judged by how they play and how they make the game for people around them easier as well. Think about your own game and ask yourself if you're setting people up for success and making their job less difficult on the pitch or are players constantly in tough situations after they receive the ball for you, have a look at some game tape and see where you stand.
5. Killer Instinct - Nice guys don't win much of anything. The best soccer players to every do it have that take no prisoners attitude and are always looking to rip the opponents heart out (metaphorically speaking of course). In any sport the greats are considered the greats because they have a mindset they go into when they play where they have no friends just people trying to take the game from them.
Look at the end of the day the eternal question of who the greatest ever will always come down to personal opinion so the fact is there will never be a consensus greatest ever but it's still fun to talk about. It is so difficult to compare players from different eras because the game was different, they played against different opponents, under different rules and so much has changed.
These days players have advancements in every part of the game including nutrition, sleep, physiotherapy, analytics and so much more. If greats from previous eras had what these players had today they would be infinitely better so the argument is nearly impossible to make. All the best soccer players in history all shared common attributes which are listed here and the only thing has changed is the environments in which these players play in. With that said you can take any all time great and move them up or down a generation or two and they would still be the best of the generation because they would find a way to make it happen.
1. Work Ethic - Almost every player at the top of history's best players list has had a work ethic that is second to none. Whether it's getting there early or staying late to extra reps in every player has a relentless work ethic. This is true for life just as it is for soccer, to become elite at anything you have to outwork the pack.
2. Self Confidence - We all know the powerful affects your mental game has on how you play on the pitch and at the top of that list is self confidence. Believing in yourself is your single greatest super power and being able to tap into it during the most difficult of moments is incredibly valuable and is what has put all the best soccer players ever into a category of their own.
3. Intrinsically Driven/Motivated - The most successful people in the world don't need people around them to get them motivated to work on their game or losing a match. People that are motivated to be the greatest have a fire that burns inside of them that exists at the top of the food chain. Whether it's putting in an extra workout, doing extra sprints or training on off days players that are intrinsically motivated achieve special things in this game.
4. Passion - Having the passion for the game running through your veins and treating every sprint, pass, drill and game like it is the most important thing to exist on this planet is the type of passion the best soccer players ever all had hand have. These players breathe, eat and sleep soccer and are the most devastated during a loss, you want to be great? This type of love for the game needs to exist day in and day out or you just won't last.
5. Talent - Okay all the nice attributes above are all fine and dandy but at the end of the day if you can't play at a superior level and have the talent to make people get up off their chairs becoming one of the best soccer players of all time just aren't in the cards. Being talented technically, tactically, athletically and psychologically are key aspects to reaching the pinnacle of the world's greatest game.
1. Speed - Speed makes up for everything in soccer. Bad touch? no problem go catch up to it, out of position? no problem just blow by everyone to get the ball. Of course speed alone doesn't make a player but having speed can make up for so much when your game is missing a couple pieces, now if you have all the other attributes on and off the pitch and you add some blazing feet to that equation, now we are talking about a special type of player.
2. Strength - You don't need to be competing in the world strong man competition every year but having elite strength can help you and has helped all the greatest to grace this pitch separate themselves from the rest. Defenders especially need this to fight off all the big posting strikers they will come across.
3. Anaerobic Fitness - Speed is one thing but being able to do multiple short bursts for 90minutes has made great players into some of the best soccer players the game has ever witnessed. Having an endless motor can make up for so much and allow you to clearly elevate your game to levels never seen before, just ask Messi.
4. Agility - The greats that can shift their weight and body effortless form side to side on the pitch look like they are floating when they are playing and not running. The ability to bob and weave up and down the pitch is a critical physical attribute you will need to improve if you want to be in the mix with the greats.
5. Aerobic Fitness - Your ability to last all match long with medium to long runs is mandatory in any generation of soccer. No matte the position you play having a high aerobic capacity can make your life so much easier especially in the late moments and extra time of games.
What a question, I'm so glad I asked it. Reading this page is a good start so you can see what attributes you do have and do not have to try and fill in the gaps to help excel your game. This is the beauty of player development, everyone sees it a little bit differently on how we should mold players into becoming the next Messi or Pele. One though that is commonly shared are the off the field attributes listed here such as work ethic, dedication, talent and a drive to succeed like your life depends on it. The stuff in between the lines is up for much debate and Barcelona does it differently than Brazil and it's hard to argue with both as both have been successful and produced some of the best soccer players we have ever witnessed.
Here are three great ways to separate yourself from all of your friends that nobody else is doing:
1. Watch your own game tape and seriously analyze your own game and ask yourself these three questions. Was I the best player on the pitch? Did I positively or negatively affect the score line (score or assist, get beat 1v1 and get scored on)
2. Go up to your coach with something to write on and with and ask them all the areas they think you need to improve on. Specifically in the technical, tactical, mental and soccer intangibles such as work ethic, leadership etc.
3. Watch the best in the world on TV in your position and write down all the great things and how many times they do it a game then compare it to yours. I bet you'll find some serious differences.