A 1958 and 1962 World Cup Winner, Nilton Santos is one of the greatest defenders in the history of the game. Marcelo is a very good left back but Nilton Santos was brilliant and had the international success that the Real Madrid man can only dream of.
A one-club man with Botafogo, he made 723 appearances for the Rio De Janeiro side. One of his most iconic moments was when he ran the entire pitch against Austria in 1958, before scoring a phenomenal finish. He went to four World Cups and scored 11 goals for the club and 3 for his country.
Love him or loathe him, Neymar earns a place on this list by virtue of his incredible form for Brazil, where he is third in the nation’s top scoring ranks. 60 goals in 97 games are sensational. Only 27-years-old, you can bet that he will beat that record soon. He won every on offer with Santos and Barcelona and has helped PSG to domestic success.
Neymar is also the most expensive player in the history of the game, costing €222 million when he signed for PSG from Barcelona. While his attitude has been condemned by fans, there’s no doubting his talent and he’s considered one of the most influential sports people on the planet today.
As famous for his big mustache as he was for mastering the flip-flap, Rivelino was one of the great Brazilian players of the 70s. The attacking midfielder is regarded as one of the most graceful players ever to play the game and was a massive inspiration for Diego Maradona’s as a young man.
Another 1970’s World Cup Winning star, Rivelino spent most of his career at Corinthians. He also starred for Fluminense for their excellent 1970s side. He also managed Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan after retiring from professional football.
Scorer of arguably the greatest international goal of all time, Carlos Alberto was a magnificent defender who captained Brazil to 1970 World Cup glory. That goal came to define Brazil as a footballing nation, with Carlos Alberto putting the finishing touch to a sensational nine-man move.
The vast majority of his career was spent at Santos, where he made 445 appearances. He’d also play for New York Cosmos with Pele later in his career. A refined, yet tough-tackling center-half, Carlos Alberto is one of Brazil’s greatest ever defenders.
Does any player in the world personify a position on the pitch like Cafu? If you’re an attacking right back you can immediately expect yourself to be compared to Cafu. With 142 appearances, he’s the most capped Brazilian of all time. He won the 1994 and 2002 World Cups, captaining Brazil at the latter.
As a player, he was renowned for his dynamism, energy, pace, and tactical intelligence. He was famed for his overlapping runs and is especially famous in Europe for his spells with Roma and Italy where he is one of the best defenders to play in Serie A.
The Hurricane was a quick, skillful, and powerful right-winger and a member of the legendary Brazilian national team that won the 1970 World Cup. He was one of only four players in World Cup history to have scored in every game his country played.
He played most of his club football in Botafogo, replacing his idol Garrincha for both club and country. He played in three consecutive World Cups: 1966, 1970, and 1974. After a spell at Marseille, he made a few appearances for South Africa’s Kaiser Chiefs, before coming back to Brazil.
One of the greatest midfielders ever to play the game, Socrates was a symbol of cool for an entire generation. That haircut, headband, and beard combination made him physically distinctive on the pitch. That’s even before we talk about how good he was as a player.
The attacking midfielder captained Brazil at the 1982 World Cup, playing in midfield alongside Zico, Eder, and Falcao. This is considered the greatest Brazilian team to never to win a World Cup. Just to sum up how good he was, the former South American Footballer of the Year’s signature move was a no-look backheel pass. Pure class.
Another remarkable striker, Romario starred for Brazil in their 1994 World Cup win and was named FIFA World Player of the Year the same season. He was also a member of Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team, where had ah a special partnership with Hristo Stoichkov. 30 goals in 33 matches during his first season in Spain helped him to L Liga.
55 goals in 70 appearances for Brazil show just how gifted he was. He was lethal in confined spaces and became famous for his toe-poke finishes. Romario is one of the few strikers in the world to have scored over 1000 goals in their careers.
A joy to watch, Ronaldinho played every game with a smile on his face and was one of the most naturally gifted players ever to wear a Brazilian shirt. Who can ever forget his freekick against David Seaman? Or the time he was actually applauded by the Santiago Bernabeu faithful after putting on a stellar performance by hated rivals Barcelona?
Although he was a notorious party animal, Ronaldinho made the ridiculous look effortless. He first came to Europe with PSG, before moving to Barcelona and then AC Milan, before a nomadic journey around the world. Two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and a Ballon D’Or shows just how good the World Cup winner was.
Arguably the best player in the world during the 1970s and 1980s, Zico was renowned for his remarkable ability to bend the ball wherever he wanted it to go. The 1981 and 1983 World Player of the year spent 13 seasons in his first spell at Flamengo and come back for five more on either side of a spell at Udinese.
The sensational attacking midfielder was basically loved wherever he went, though he would struggle with injuries throughout his career. He’s also adored at Kashima Antlers, one of Japan’s most successful clubs, where a statue is outside their stadium in his honor.
Oh, what could have been. It’s bizarre that a footballer who played for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter, and AC Milan while shooting his team to world cup glory could be regarded as an underachiever. Yet that’s the truth with Ronaldo, who could have been the greatest player ever, nevermind just in Brazil if it hadn’t been for his own body letting him down.
He won two world cups, with 2002 being his finest moment as he scored the winner in the final against Germany. Remarkably, despite all the major clubs he played for, he never won a Champion’s League and his highest domestic success were two La Ligas with Real Madrid. Serious knee injuries would be his tragic downfall.
Controversial we know, but the most famous Brazilian footballer ever is in second place on this list. While the name Pele is synonymous with football, there’s no denying that his self-promotion has helped his rise to legendary status. That’s not saying he wasn’t great: he was magnificent. 650 goals in 694 recorded club appearances is an outstanding record.
The Santos legend won three world cups with Brazil, scoring 77 goals in 92 appearances for his country. Capable of the absolutely sublime, he’s a national hero in his home nation. The argument against him being the best ever is because many Brazilians will tell you that the next man on this list epitomized the magic of football.
Brazil never lost a game while fielding both Pele and Garrincha. While the former definitely is more famous and is usually ranked as one of the greatest players ever, we genuinely believe Garrincha was just a bit better. Described as a sensation, he was Brazil’s best player in 1962, scoring four goals in the tournament and winning the Golden Ball.
He won two world cups and a host of domestic competitions with Botafogo. Renowned for his skill and invention, Garrincha scored four goals direct from corners in his career. The Brazilian’s personal life gives him an anti-hero aura. He’s known to have fathered at least fourteen children with different women and suffered alcohol abuse throughout his life. Pele was the establishment. Garrincha fought against the establishment.