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Top 10 Best Midfielders in The History of Modern Football

There are 11 positions in football and each of them is occupied by a player during a football match. The midfielder position is one of them and is very vital in every play. Although every other position does, the midfielder has a lot to say in whether a team will win a match or not with regards to goal scoring.

A midfielder is known as an association football position. The general position of midfielders on the field is between their team’s defenders and forwards. Among midfielders, there are some that play a disciplined defensive role wherein they also break up attacks, are otherwise known as defensive midfielders.

Sports24, in our commitment to keeping you abreast with relevant and updated information about the football world, is bringing to you, the top 10 best midfielders in the history of football.

In no particular order and aside favoritism, though an incomplete list, the best 10 best midfielders in the history of modern football include:

  • Zinedine Zidane
  • Xavi
  • Andres Iniesta
  • Diego Maradona
  • Ronaldinho
  • Paul Scholes
  • Zico
  • Frank Rijkaard
  • Pele
  • Ryan Giggs

Zinedine Zidane

The French talisman, Zinedine Zidane is among the best midfielders in the history of football and had a very exceptional play in his five years in Turin winning the Scudetto in his first two years with the club.

Zidane earned the Ballon d’Or in 1998 following his historic World Cup for France and was named the Serie A Footballer of the year twice.

His play was often called the magic of Zinedine Zidane and he dazzled fans with his majestic play and legendary vision.

Zidane is currently the manager of the Spanish La Liga side Real Madrid.


Xavi was known for his creative visionary and us an epitome of the short pass and move philosophy of the tiki-taka.

Xavi played for the Catalonia side for 17 years and won the Spanish titles, Copa Del Rey, and Champions League trophies for two following number of times, 8, 6 and 4 respectively.

Being one of the favorites of his country, Spain, he made 133 appearances for the Spanish side and also played an instrumental role in helping his country lift its first title since 1964 with the UEFA Euro 2008.

With his incredible creative vision — he dished 599 passes with a 91% success rate — and dye to his ability to get stuck in, also helped power his country side to the 2010 World Cup.

Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta is a household name for the midfielder position in the history of football and was known for his versatility and inventive play.

Iniesta played a spectacular role in the Catalan side that won the treble in 2009 and 2015.

In his record, he won whopping 33 trophies over 16 years in his first team and this include 9 La Liga titles and 4 Champions League.

He was Messi‘s runner-up in the 2010 Ballon d’Or and became very famous for scoring the winning goal for Spain which crowned them the 2010 World Cup winners against Holland. This was the country’s first World Cup trophy ever hence was indeed a great feat for Andres.

Diego Maradona

There are geniuses in different world’s that make up the world we live in and when it comes to that of football, Diego Maradona is a pure genius and took the sports world by storm back in the 1980s hence is among the best midfielders in the history of football.

Maradona is famous for not just his prolific scores but also for his excellent passes.

Some of the great feats of this legendary football star is as follows.

  • His shining in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where he recorded prolific goal scoring by netting 10 of his team’s 14 goals.
  • Netting the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal and the ‘Goal of the Century’ which came through four minutes later that helped beat England in the finals to loft the trophy.
  • Winning 2 Italian championships, a UEFA Cup, and an Italian Super Cup after peaking with his club side Napoli.


Ronaldinho is obviously one of the best midfielders in the history of football and was born on 21st March 1980. He is commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho or simply Ronaldinho and is a Brazilian former professional footballer and currently the ambassador for the Camp Nou side, Barcelona.

His major play was as an attacking midfielder, but he was also deployed as a forward or a winger.

Ronaldinho is often considered as one of the best players of his generation and regarded by many as one of the greatest of all time in the world of football.

The Barcelona ambassador won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and a Ballon d’Or.

Lot of things are attributed to this global football icon and include his technical skills, creativity and dribbling ability, use of tricks, overhead kicks, feints, no-look passes and accuracy from free-kicks. These and many more make him renowned.

Paul Scholes

Alongside Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, the famous Manchester United midfielder, played his entire career with the English Premier League side, the Red Devils.

He played in a total of 700 games as a player with Old Trafford club and won a total of 25 trophies for the club which include

  • 11 of which were Premier League titles,
  • 2 FA Cups, and
  • 2 Champions League trophies.

With his 155 goals for Manchester United, he is the 10th leading club scorer of all-time.


Zico is not just one of the best midfielders in the history of football but is also one of the best footballers of all-time.

The Brazilian played the classic number 10 role for his country side as a playmaker and was a star for his club side, Flamengo.

Zico won the former player of the year award in 1981 and 1983 but never won a World Cup in three attempts. Though this, he scored 48 goals and remains the fifth highest goals scorer for the Brazilian national team.

He played over 731 matches for Flamengo and bagged 508 goals, winning practically everything including four domestic titles, a 1981 Intercontinental Cup and the 1981 Copa Libertadores.

Frank Rijkaard

Frank Rijkaard started playing for Ajax at a very young age 17 and this was quite an impressive one.

Afterwards, he went on to be one of the best defensive-midfielders in the history of football.

Frank Rijkaard guided The Netherlands to its first major international trophy with a victory in Euro 1988. That same year, he joined AC Milan alongside Ruud Gullit and March Van Basten, his fellow Dutch countryman where he won the European Cup twice along with a pair of Serie A titles.


With the full name Edson Arantes do Nascimento, he was born 23 October 1940 and is known as Pelé.

This Brazilian former professional footballer is obviously among the best midfielders in the history of football and played as a forward.

Pele is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time in the football sport and was one of the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century in the world of football and is among the football legends that have ever lived.

Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs is among the best midfielders in the history of football and had a lengthy one-club career at Manchester United for which he is celebrated for in the sport till date.

Ryan Giggs had a remarkable 90s version and was a dynamic midfielder before he retired from international football.  

Giggs was ultra-competitive and had high-standards he kept to both on the field and off.

Ryan Giggs is the most decorated footballer in the history of football in English Premier League and won the following trophies with Manchester United:

  • 13 Premier League Cups,
  • 4 FA Cups,
  • 4 League Cups, and
  • 2 Champions League trophies.

Giggs is also recognized as the player with the Premiership most assists of all-time, having assisted 271 goals.

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