While many may not know the origin of the sport, soccer is a global sport with billions of fans to show for it. In continents where the sport has a great popularity, it is commonplace to see players and sports enthusiasts engaging in it, in one form or the other.
Part of the reason the sport has thrived throughout history is its adaptability. This allowed for several variants of the game to be developed, with each having recognized rules to ensure fairness and promote the spirit of the game.
As a result, there are millions of soccer talents worldwide playing in different distinct leagues and competitions. These talents can be found naturally from the streets of the popular soccer nation of Brazil to the soccer academies of Canada—a country where soccer is not rated among its top most popular sports.
However, although ranked low in soccer popularity, Canada has produced talents that have played professionally in the sport. A good example is renowned former professional soccer midfielder Owen Hargreaves.
At the end of his career, he had won four German league titles, a Premier League title, and two UEFA Champions League titles. Not many professional soccer players can boast of such a profile.
Since there are soccer talents scattered worldwide, where can the best talents be found? In soccer, talents can only be quantified or measured by achievements.
This article takes an objective look at the top six countries in the world to have produced the best talents, according to its highest governing body, FIFA.
Where do the best soccer players come from?
Annual awards are conducted in soccer to honor the best talents for the year. The two most famous awards in soccer are the Ballon d’Or and The Best FIFA Men’s Player award.
They are so popular and coveted by soccer players that in 2010-2015, both award organizers merged to become the FIFA Ballon d’Or. As far as rankings go, players who have won this award have been considered the best in that playing year.
There’s no better way to rate the part of the world where the best soccer players come from than by using their achievements, awards, and accomplishments.
The list will be drawn along national lines with notable mentions of the continents from which they originate. So here are the top seven countries that have produced soccer’s best talents.
The country is the most successful national team in the sport’s biggest tournament, the FIFA World Cup. It has made a total of twenty-two appearances and a record five wins.
Outside Europe’s club soccer popularity, Brazil is the name on any soccer-loving fan’s mind when they think of soccer. As the nation’s number one sport, soccer talents are scattered on the streets and corners of the country.
This South American nation is home to the joint winner of the FIFA Player of the Century award, Pele. In his prime, he won the Ballon d’Or a record seven times.
Years later, Ronaldo conquered the sport at the national and club level, winning the Ballon d’Or twice. In addition, he won the FIFA World Player of the Year three times.
Ronaldinho stands out in recent soccer as a dribbling god. Unless you’re a recent soccer fan, Ronaldinho is a household name.
His amazing talent won him the FIFA World Player of the Year consecutively in 2004 & 2005. He’s also the one-time winner of the 2005 Ballon d’Or award.
There are other Brazilian players to have won either the Ballon d’Or or the FIFA World Player of the Year or both. In 1999, Rivaldo won both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award.
Kaka also won both the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2007.
Other prominent soccer stars to have graced the sports include Romário, Neymar, Zico, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Casemiro, Alisson Becker, Marquinhos, Dani Alves, Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Robinho, Adriano, Thiago Silva, Zé Roberto, and Dida.
Argentina is one of the greatest soccer nations in the world. It sits majestically on the southern half of the soccer-loving continent of South America. It has produced some of the best soccer players ever to play the sport.
It is home to one of the world’s greatest soccer players of all time, Diego Maradona. Maradona was one of the joint recipients of the FIFA Player of the Century award in 2000.
In recognition of his superb talent, Maradona was awarded two consecutive Ballon d’Or in 1986 & 1990, a decade before the FIFA World Player of the Year award was established.
In his prime, the country was rated among the best national teams globally. He would become a four-time winner of the nation’s Footballer of the Year award in 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1986.
In more recent times, the country still has one of its own as one of the Greatest of all Time players in the sport. Lionel Messi has a combined win of seven trophies from The Best FIFA Men’s Player and the Ballon d’Or awards. This makes him the highest holder of the elite award in recent times.
He has also won the Argentine Footballer of the Year award, a record twelve times. With much of his professional career playing in the Spanish club, Barcelona, he was the league’s Best Player in six consecutive league seasons.
The country has also produced other top rated professional soccer players in the likes of Paulo Dybala, Ángel Di María, Ángel Correa, and Nicolás Otamendi.
The nation birthed one of today’s soccer Greatest of all Time. Cristiano Ronaldo, a living proof that dedication and commitment to the sport can take you places, is one of the game’s most decorated players.
This southern European country was a one-time European Championship winner in 2016 and UEFA Nations League champions in 2019. A feat that was remarkably achieved by the combined talent of the players and their leading man, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The player has won the Ballon d’Or five times and was also the 2008 winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year. He has also won The Best FIFA Men’s Player award twice with his incredible talent. In addition, he has won his country’s Footballer of the Year award four times.
Another notable talent is Luis Figo. He won the Ballon d’Or in 2000 and went on to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2001. He is also a six-time winner of the Portuguese Footballer of the Year award.
Other notable professional soccer players to have come out from Portugal include Eusébio, João Moutinho, Pepe, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota, João Cancelo, Nani, Ricardo Quaresma, and Nuno Gomes.
The Western European country is one of the best soccer nations globally. They have won FIFA’s most prestigious tournament, the World Cup, twice in 1998 and 2018.
As a major soccer weight in Europe, it has one of the world’s top leagues, the Ligue 1. One of the nation’s greatest professional soccer players is Zinedine Zidane.
He’s a three-time winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year. He also won the Ballon d’Or in 1998. As one of the best players to come out of France, he retired as a professional soccer player and became one of the most successful club soccer coaches.
Another prominent French player is Thierry Henry. Although he never won the Ballon d’Or, he came close as a runner-up in 2003 and third-place in 2006. He’s a popular name in European soccer with several league titles to his name.
Other notable professional soccer players of French descent are Michel Platini, Lilian Thuram, Didier Deschamps, Eric Cantona, Patrick Vieira, Karim Benzema, Claude Makélélé, Fabien Barthez, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé, Olivier Giroud, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté, Franck Ribéry, Samuel Umtiti, and David Trezeguet.
This Southern European country is also one of the most successful teams in FIFA’s history. They have won the FIFA World Cup four times. They have also been European Champions twice in 1968 & 2020.
The country produces quality soccer stars in the likes of Fabio Cannavaro. He won the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year together in 2006.
Roberto Baggio was the first French player to achieve this feat by first winning the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1993.
The nation’s list of top-rated soccer players is one of the greatest in the world. These names include Paolo Maldini, Gianluigi Buffon, Francesco Totti, Alessandro Del Piero, Andrea Pirlo, Marco Verratti, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, Roberto Mancini, Mario Balotelli, and Filippo Inzaghi.
The Central European country is not exactly a big name in soccer, but it has produced some of the best talents in the sport. However, as a national team, they are yet to win a major soccer tournament, internationally or within the European continent.
A prominent soccer player of Polish descent is one of the game’s most prolific strikers, Robert Lewandowski. He’s a two-time Best FIFA Men’s Player in 2020 & 2021 and won the Ballon d’Or Striker of the Year award in 2021.
He has won the Polish Footballer of the Year a record nine times! As a prolific striker, he has numerous awards and recognitions to this effect.
Unlike other nations on the list, there are not many prominent names in soccer with Polish roots. However, some other notable names are Wojciech Szczęsny, Arkadiusz Milik, and Piotr Zieliński.
The Western European country is a four-time FIFA World Cup winner and has also won the European Championship three times.
Lothar Herbert Matthäus stands out as the country’s best to have won the Ballon d’Or in 1990 and the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1991.
Germany is home to one of the world’s top leagues, the Bundesliga. In addition, its national team comprises some of the best soccer players in the world.
The country has produced one of the best soccer goalkeepers to have graced the sport in recent times. Manuel Neuer is one of the most decorated goalkeepers in professional soccer, with many individual awards to his name.
Other top names to have come out from Germany are Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Oliver Kahn, Thomas Müller, Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos, Antonio Rüdiger, Michael Ballack, Mesut Özil, Timo Werner, Leroy Sané, and Jérôme Boateng.
With South America and Europe boasting of producing the best soccer talents, it’s no surprise why most of their players are in high demand.
On the one hand, Brazil and Argentina lay claim to natural soccer talents, which is evident in the individual contributions of their professional soccer players. On the other hand, the bests of Europe take pride in having the biggest soccer competitions and some of the world’s best soccer academies.
With the continuous love and support of the sport in the remote streets and homes of the top soccer countries in South America, it may always continue to produce the best talents.
Club and youth academies continue to nurture players in the European continent. Thus, as more investments are poured into these academies, there would always seem to be a surplus of talents.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!