The record FIFA World Cup-winning nation continues to produce talent that is carrying on the legacy of its illustrious predecessors.
Over the years, the world has been graced by some of the finest Brazilian footballers across generations. It is evident from the fact that they are the record FIFA World Cup winners.
Brazilian football is all about flair, elegance and skill. This has has been their ethos right from the early days. Brazil has had unending riches when it comes to players who have made the nation proud.
Today, we rank the 10 best Brazilian footballers of all-time:
The only active player on this list, Neymar is without doubt one of the most skillful players on the planet. Neymar has won trophies wherever he has gone and in 2017 he became the most expensive signing in football history when Paris-Saint Germain paid €222 million for him.
For all that exorbitant spending though, Neymar has been prolific for both club and country. He is the second-highest goalscorer for his country with 64 goals.
He won the Copa Libertadores with his hometown club Santos as a 19-year old. The forward won the treble with FC Barcelona in 2015. Now at Paris Saint-Germain, he averages an absurd 1.22 goal contributions/game. He has led them to multiple league titles as well as the final of the UEFA Champions League last season. Playing for Brazil, he has made more than 100 appearances and lifted the Confederations Cup in 2013.
The defensive midfielder was one of the most influential Brazilian footballers in the ’90s. He won the 1994 World Cup, the 1989 and 1997 Copa America trophies and the 1997 Confederations Cup.
As a manager, he led his nation to the Copa America title in 2007 and the 2009 Confederations Cup.
Rivaldo enjoyed an illustrious career representing 14 clubs across six different countries. But, he had his best years with FC Barcelona and AC Milan. At Barcelona, he announced himself to the world by scoring 129 goals in 235 games. He moved to AC Milan and played every game of their 2002-03 Champions League season, which he won with the Rossoneri.
He starred for his country in their victorious 1999 Copa America. His efforts that year won him the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year.
7. Roberto Carlos
Considered by many as the best left-back in history, Roberto Carlos has the envious record to back it. Carlos featured prominently for Inter Milan and Real Madrid and made himself a legend at the latter.
He featured in more than 500 games for Los Blancos and with his astute defending and a rocket of a left foot, he made himself right at home winning four La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League titles among others.
The defender represented his country 125 times (second on all-time appearances list) and won the World Cup in 2002 and the Copa America in 1997 and 1999. These victories crested with his achievements in club football firmly ensconced him among the best Brazilian footballers of all time.
Named after a bird due to his short frame, Garrincha was born with rickety legs but never let it stop him from becoming an iconic player for his country and his local club Botafogo.
Garrincha lifted the 1958 and 1962 World Cups with Brazil, while also winning the Golden Ball and Golden Boot in the latter edition. He was also recognized in the Ballon d’Or Dream Team (Silver) in 2020.
Cafu established himself as one of the best Brazilian footballers and won every trophy in club football and for his country. The legendary right-back is Brazil’s most capped player with 142 appearances for the Selecao.
An inextricable part of whichever side he played for, Cafu won the 1994 and 2002 World Cups, the Copa America in 1997 and 1999 and the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1997. In club football, Cafu lifted Serie A titles with Roma and Milan and also won the 2006-07 Champions League with the Rossoneri.
Ronaldinho is one of the most iconic footballers to have ever graced the game. He went on to inspire a generation through his befuddling skills and silky ball control.
Ronaldinho became one of the most synonymous names in football. He represented some of the biggest clubs in the world like FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan.
For his efforts, Ronaldinho won league titles in Spain and Italy and also won the UEFA Champions League with Barcelona in 2005-06 along with the 2002 World Cup and the Ballon d’ Or in 2005. In doing so, Ronaldinho continued the tradition of Brazilians winning everything there is to win in club and international football.
In a career spanning two decades, Romario notched up more than 1,000 goals (approx) in his professional career. The forward represented teams like Vasco Da Gama, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona and Valencia across his career.
Although he didn’t face a lot of success in club football, Romario got his fair share in international football forming part of the victorious 1994 World Cup team. He also lifted the Copa America in 1989 and 1997 along with the 1997 Confederations Cup for Brazil.
2. Ronaldo Nazario
Ronaldo Nazario is one of the best strikers of all-time. An inspiration to so many strikers of the current crop, the Rio de Janeiro native showcased dazzling skills and a ferocious appetite for goals. Ronaldo was a gifted striker who matched his dizzying dribbling ability.
His incredible goalscoring rate stretched from Cruzeiro to PSV Eindhoven to clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Inter, giving him the distinct honour of representing all four clubs on either side of the historic rivalries.
Ronaldo made his first mark on international football by being a part of the victorious 1994 team that won their fourth World Cup. He would go on to star his nation’s fifth World Cup win eight years later and in the meantime go on to plunder goals irrespective of the team or the league he played in.
Ronaldo won the 1997 and 1999 Copa America with his country and also won the Ballon d’or twice in 1997 and 2002.
By far the most iconic and influential Brazilian player of all-time, the prodigal son of Brazil took the nation to global stardom and embodied his nation’s unbridled love of the game wherever he went. Pele became the torchbearer of Brazil’s footballing legacy.
“O Rei” predominantly played for his boyhood club Santos and scored a staggering 1,281 goals (approx) in 1,364 games. He also led his country to three World Cup victories (1958, 1962, and 1970). For all his efforts and contribution to elevating the global status of the game and his nation, Pele was jointly adjudged the “Player of the Century” along with Diego Maradona.