Brazil have lots of footballers but as a nation, Brazil has been through a lot, from a political, social and economic perspective. But even though faith in government and the powers-that-be has wavered, in South America’s largest country, football remains a central part of life. There are so many Brazilian greats, so its not easy to figure out the best Brazilian Footballers ever.
It was clear because, according to all sources, when Brazil was kicked out of the 2014 World Cup after a humiliating 7-1 loss for Germany as hosts, the whole nation was thrown into mourning. But even after the darkest hour of the national team, the Brazilian people tend to love the sport unconditionally. Fortunately, they have created some of the best footballers ever to grace the game.
There are lots of Brazilian footballers but in this article, I will be discussing 10 best footballers from Brazil. Here are the top 10 best Brazilian Footballers ever.
Gérson is number 10th on my list of best Brazilian footballers ever. He is the artistic engine of Brazil’s iconic 1970 World Cup-winning side, leads off our list.
A midfielder with excellent agility, hawk-like vision and a thunderous left foot, Gérson embodied four of Brazil’s biggest clubs– Flamengo, Botafogo, São Paulo and Fluminense–but his genius for the seleção was what thrust him into global footballing consciousness.
Gérson faced the disappointment of a deeply disappointing 1966 World Cup campaign – in which Brazil failed to advance beyond the group stage – to become the chief architect of that winning team. Four years later, capturing the Silver Ball competition and achieving the second place in his country’s final victory over Italy.
Socrates being the 9th best Brazilian footballers ever in my list, he is a Stylish Midfielder, Smoker and a heavy drinker. A Qualified Expert of Psychiatry, democratic protester, and tireless justice critic.
Sócrates reputation was much more than what he was doing on the track. A magnificent man, he was the iconic captain of the 1982 World Cup team in Brazil, unmistakable and unhurried, a guy whose nonchalant excellence wasn’t enough to push his nation to Spain’s final.
He was a holder of three Brazilian championships with Corinthians, Socrates hanging up his boots in 1989 before making a curious comeback for about five minutes in 2004 for British non-league side Garforth City.
Jairzinho, a robust and fast winger, is best remembered for his remarkable feat during the 1970 World Cup; scoring for all six games.
He is 8th on my list of best Brazilian footballers ever. He was a professional who could score any target, from brilliant solo efforts to thunderous goals, he had in his repertoire all sorts of finishes. Indeed, it was the unerring accuracy of Jairzinho in front of the target that raised his nation to their most significant ever victory.
With so many of the attack-minded players from Brazil’s icons, it is a tribute to the success and quality of Cafu over such a long stretch that he moves quickly into the top ten. He is 7th on my list of best Brazilian footballers ever.
He is also the most-capped player in Brazil with a record 142 to his credit. Cafu is best remembered as the powerful right-back force that led Roma to get to the Scudetto in 2001. In 2004 he clinched his second Series A championship with AC Milan, and in 2007 he was a regular participant of the champions of the Rossoneri Champions League.
He is 6th on my list of best Brazilian footballers ever. No stars have practiced goal-scoring as much as Romário has. While there are certainly question marks about the legitimacy of his 1000-goal haul, there can be no doubt over the genius of the player in the penalty area, having the touch and finish that allowed him to score important goal after significant goal.
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Romário’s finest hour arrived at the 1994 World Cup as he netted five goals in the United States during Brazil’s winning run, a haul that didn’t guarantee him the Golden Boot but helped him get the Golden Boot trophy.
He has enjoyed tremendous success at European clubs, leading PSV Eindhoven to capture three Eredivisie championships before forming Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona‘ Dream Team’ in 1993. Romário recorded 30 goals in 33 games during his first year at the Camp Nou, as Barça captured La Liga and also had spells in Valencia, numerous clubs back in Brazil, Miami FC and Adelaide United before hanging up his boots in 2009.
Ronaldinho was an extraordinarily skillful and devastatingly effective sign that football is still a game, something to love and appreciate. He is 5th on my list of best Brazilian footballers ever.
Through Paris Saint-Germain fired to fame, Ronaldinho became a star in Barcelona, earning two league titles and a club champions league, and a string of accolades–including the Ballon d’Or–for himself.
Ronaldinho, a 2002 World Cup winner with Brazil, would be even higher on this ranking if not for a frustratingly nomadic latter half of his life. He finally turned out to be in trouble for Flamengo, Atlético Mineiro, Querétaro and Fluminense until calling it quits in 2018 by the time he joined AC Milan in 2008.
Another great all-time that never managed to win the World Cup, during his career Zico was still an amazingly consistent player for the club and for Brazil his country.
Having survived his modest creation in his formative years, Flamengo helped win the Copa Libertadores in 1971, eventually winning seven state titles and four Brazilian championships over two different periods, with 800 games and 500 goals. A move master with excellent vision, Zico is also widely regarded as the game’s most excellent free-kick taker ever seen.
Nevertheless, his story with the national team was one of suffering, having been part of that 1982 side which fell short while failing to succeed in 1978 and 1986 as well. Even so, his output of 48 goals in 71 games is demonstrating what a midfield therapeutic force he was.
He is 3rd on my list of best Brazilian footballers ever. Garrincha was, by many reports, one of the most richly talented footballers of all time, Brazilian or not, the best dribbler the game has ever seen.
Garrincha came to the fore at the Swedish World Cup in 1958, at the same time as Pelé. Although his colleague became the poster boy for that game, four years later in Chile Garrincha was the victim, serving as the star man of Brazil with Pelé absent by injury.
Although distant from a model athlete – as a heavy drinker and smoker and chronic womaniser – Garrincha remains widely known as one of Brazil’s most exceptionally brilliant players ever to come out.
He is 2nd on my list of best Brazilian footballers ever. And indeed, though he scored eight goals to help Brazil win the World Cup in 2002, there is still a disturbing tinge of’ what if’ to him, a feeling that, for all his goals and greatness, particularly. That remarkable lone season in Barcelona during which he scored 47 goals in 49 games; he was oddly unfulfilled when he retired.
Much of this, of course, wasn’t his responsibility. It was not his fault when, on the morning of the 1998 World Cup, he succumbed to a life-threatening stroke, nor was it his responsibility that in 1999 he sustained a near-career-end accident.
Pele is the number 1 on my list of best Brazilian footballers ever. Perhaps overshadowed as the greatest of all time by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Pelé remains the standard to which up-and-coming Brazilians strive.
Pelé burst onto the global scene as the 17-year-old who took the 1958 World Cup by surprise, collecting six goals–five of which came in the semi-finals and finals–as Brazil was proclaimed first-time world champions.