What constitutes true greatness in a soccer player (or football player, depending on where you live)? It can be many things: the sheer number of goals, unmatchable skills, leadership ability and inspirational character. The greatest players in soccer history possess at least one of these qualities. Some exhibit them all.
But who is the best soccer player from a country?
The answer can be an endless debate. Argentina has Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. France produced Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane. Whoever is chosen depends on the eye — or age — of the beholder.
Other countries are easier. The Netherlands has produced many great soccer players, but all bow down to Johan Cruyff. Much the same goes for Franz Beckenbauer in Germany, while the likes of Austria’s Matthias Sindelar and Uruguay’s Obdulio Varela speak to a football era before worldwide television.
Today, FIFA has 211 teams around the world. They represent 191 of the 193 United Nations-member states. And one footballer still can inspire millions.
To evaluate the game's most legendary talents, we have condensed the globe to 60 nations, based on FIFA's current world rankings.
Meet the greatest soccer player ever from each of these countries.