MUNICH, GERMANY - JULY 7:  West German goalkeeper Sepp Maier catches the ball in front of Dutch forward Johan Cruyff as defender Franz Beckenbauer (L) looks on, 07 July 1974 in Munich, during the World Cup soccer final. Host West Germany beat The Netherlands 2-1 to earn its second World Cup title, twenty years after its first win over Hungary (3-2), 04 July 1954 in Bern.  AFP PHOTO  (Photo credit should read STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)

10 of the Greatest European Footballers of All Time

​Football lost one of its greatest pioneers in Johan Cruyff last week. The Dutch icon, who starred for Ajax and Barcelona during his brilliant career, lost a battle against cancer last Thursday, passing away at the age of 69.


He was, however, one of the greatest European players to ever put on a pair of boots.


In his honour, we take a look at the 10 greatest footballers the continent has produced over the years...


10. Xavi

Nationality: Spanish

Active From: 1997 To: Present

FIFA World Cup: 1

Euro Cup: 2

UEFA Champions League: 4

UEFA Europa League: 0

League Titles: 8

Domestic Cups: 3

Ballon d'Or: 0


Former captain of Barcelona, now at Qatari club Al-Sadd. The midfielder has been the model of success and consistency ever since breaking into Barca's first team from La Masia.

9. Sir Bobby Charlton

Nationality: English

Active From: 1956 To: 1976

FIFA World Cup: 1

Euro Cup: 0

UEFA Champions League: 1

UEFA Europa League: 0

League Titles: 3

Domestic Cups: 1

Ballon d'Or: 1


The greatest English player of all time, although Wayne Rooney might beg to differ, Sir Bobby Charlton was a key member of the England side which won the 1966 World Cup.


He was known for his brilliance in attack and superb shooting from distance, which helped Manchester United to much success.

8. Michel Platini

Nationality: French

Active From: 1972 To: 1987

World Cup: 0

Euro Cup: 1

UEFA Champions League: 1

UEFA Europa League: 0

League Titles: 4

Domestic Cups: 2

Ballon d'Or: 3


One of the best players to hail from France, Michel Platini was undoubtedly the main man in the 1980's. He was an absolute wizard for his country, as well as Juventus, and had a terrific eye for goal.

7. Ferenc Puskas

Nationality: Hungarian

Active From: 1943 To: 1966

FIFA World Cup: 0

Euro Cup: 0

UEFA Champions League: 3

UEFA Europa League: 0

League Titles: 10

Domestic Cups: 1

Ballon d'Or: 1


A prolific scorer and outstanding player overall, Ferenc Puskas scored 84 goals in 85 appearances for Hungary, and 514 goals in 529 games in league competition.

6. Cristiano Ronaldo

​Nationality: Portuguese

Active From: 2002 To: Present

FIFA World Cup: 0

Euro Cup: 0

UEFA Champions League: 2

UEFA Europa League: 0

League Titles: 4

Domestic Cups: 5

Ballon d'Or: 3


The Real Madrid man is still on top of his game at 31, and there appears to be no slowing down. He would probably wish he wasn't playing in the same era as Lionel Messi, but that should take nothing away from his brilliance as a player.

5. Zinedine Zidane

Nationality: French

Active From: 1989 To: 2006

FIFA World Cup: 1

Euro Cup: 1

UEFA Champions League: 1

UEFA Europa League: 0

League Titles: 3

Domestic Cups: 0

Ballon d'Or: 1


Current Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane was one of the best attacking minds in the game as a player. He was a real magician on the ball, and certainly deserves a spot on such a list.

4. Eusebio

Nationality: Portuguese

Active From: 1957 To: 1979

FIFA World Cup: 0

Euro Cup: 0

UEFA Champions League: 1

UEFA Europa League: 0

League Titles: 12

Domestic Cups: 5

Ballon d'Or: 1


Eusebio is still considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time. He was an amazingly prolific striker in his time, scoring 749 goals in 745 club appearances and 41 in 64 international outings.

3. Marco van Basten

Nationality: Dutch

Active From: 1981 To: 1995

World Cup: 0

Euro Cup: 1

UEFA Champions League: 2

UEFA Europa League: 0

League Titles: 7

Domestic Cups: 3

Ballon d'Or: 3


Van Basten was very unfortunate to have his career cut short by injury at just 28, but he is still widely regarded as on of Europe's best ever talents.

2. Franz Beckenbauer

Nationality: German

Active From: 1964 To: 1983

World Cup: 1

Euro Cup: 1

UEFA Champions League: 3

UEFA Europa League: 1

League Titles: 4

Domestic Cups: 2

Ballon d'Or: 2


The only defender on this list, but  a superb player nonetheless. Any team he played in was bound to be successful. Absolute legend.

1. Johan Cruyff

Nationality: Dutch

Active From: 1962 To: 1984

FIFA World Cup: 0

Euro Cup: 0

UEFA Champions League: 3

UEFA Europa League: 0

League Titles: 10

Domestic Cups: 7

Ballon d'Or: 3


The legendary Johan Cruyff left football for good after passing away on March 24, 2016. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest players to ever grace the game, and his contributions, both as a player and manager, have left an indelible mark on the sport.