Best Brazil players of all time - ranked

  • Brazil has won a record five World Cups
  • Ronaldo earned the Ballon d'Or in both 1997 and 2002
  • Pele is the only player in history to win three World Cups
Check out the best Brazil players of all time ranked.
Check out the best Brazil players of all time ranked. / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

The five best Brazil players of all time showcase just how dominant the Selecao was on the world's biggest stage, earning them a record five World Cup titles.

Brazil's current superstars, including Neymar, Vinicius Jr., and Rodrygo, might get all the headlines, but the achievements of Brazil's past icons have yet to be topped. In fact, Brazil's history is filled with so many legendary players and titles that it is hard to envision another generation ever surpassing the incredible successes earned by some of the best players to ever lace up a pair of boots.

Here's a breakdown of Brazil's greatest soccer players that will forever be etched in the country's history.

Best Brazil players of all time - ranked

5. Rivaldo

Ronaldinho, Rivaldo
Germany V Brazil, FIFA World Cup Final Match 2002 / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

Rivaldo is the first member of the Brazilian 2002 World Cup winning squad in our rankings, but he will not be the last. Before he was a part of the legendary team that defeated Germany in the World Cup final, though, Rivaldo was already becoming an icon for both club and country.

Rivaldo won the Ballon d'Or in 1999 after winning the Copa America with Brazil and a second straight La Liga title with Barcelona in the same year. The Brazilian would go on to become a champion in Italy, Greece, Brazil, and more.

4. Ronaldinho

Germany V Brazil, FIFA World Cup Final Match 2002 / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

Ronaldinho's trophy cabinet is full of titles from just about every major domestic and international tournament in soccer. Before he took over La Liga, the Brazilian had already won the 1999 Copa America and 2002 World Cup. Then, he signed with Barcelona in 2003 and went on to win two La Liga titles, a Champions League, and two Spanish Super Cups.

His impressive performances in Spain combined with his continued successes with the Brazil National Team (Selecao won the Confederations Cup in 2005) earned Ronaldinho the Ballon d'Or in the same year.

3. Garrincha

Garrincha led Brazil to back-to-back World Cup titles. / Central Press/GettyImages

Garrincha's story of perseverance alone would earn him a spot in the conversation of Brazil's all-time greats. The player was born with crooked legs and an uneven spine, but that did not stop him from becoming one of the most beloved soccer players in Brazil's history and one of the best dribblers in all of the sport.

Garrincha won back-to-back World Cups with Brazil in 1958 and 1962. His performance in the 1962 edition of the tournament, though, is forever immortalized. After Pele was injured in the second game, Garrincha stepped up for his country and led them to a consecutive victory on soccer's biggest stage, scoring a brace in both the quarter-finals and semifinals to become the top goalscorer at the competition.

2. Ronaldo

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima
Ronaldo has the fourth most goals for Brazil in history. / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

Ronaldo is another pillar of Brazil's storied history. The forward won two World Cups with Brazil in 1994 and 2002, and up until 2014, had the record for the most goals scored in the historic tournament with 15. Germany's Miroslav Klose might have claimed the top spot with 16 goals, but Ronaldo still sits in second place.

The Brazilian finished his international career with 62 goals in 98 caps, making him the third-greatest goalscorer for the Selecao. Ronaldo also excelled for Inter Milan and Real Madrid, winning the Ballon d'Or in both 1997 and 2002.

1. Pele

Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pele
Pele is the greatest Brazilian player of all time. / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

Pele is undoubtedly the greatest Brazilian to ever lace up a pair of boots. The iconic player announced his arrival by scoring six goals at the 1958 World Cup, a tournament he would go on to win at just 17 years old. Of course, that would not be the only time Pele lifted the most prized trophy in the sport; he is the only player in history to win the World Cup three times (1958, 1962, and 1970).

Although the Brazilian retired from soccer last century, he still ranks as the third highest goalscorer of all time, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. In 92 caps for his country, Pele scored 77 goals, a record that Neymar just surpassed in 2023.