The 100 greatest players of the 21st century, featuring Lionel Messi and Ronaldo


Want to feel old? Well, the second decade of the 21st century is nearly over.

For those who remember the turn of the new millennium well, there has been plenty of footballing action to digest in the meantime, regardless of how quick it seems time has flown.

We've gone from having Luis Figo as the Ballon d'Or winner to Luka Modric, Manchester City are now the Premier League champions as opposed to Manchester United and France have come full circle with their World Cup victories.

We could go on and on about the last 19 years of football history, but perhaps there's no better reason to celebrate it than because of the exquisite players that have graced it.

With that in mind, the Independent took on the monumental task of choosing the 100 best players from the 21st century, including everyone from Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo Nazario and Lionel Messi.

The 21st century's 100 best players

It's an admirable undertaking when you consider the swathes of legendary players who have taken to the pitch between 2000 and 2019, and that's before you even consider organising them.

So, get your keyboard fingers ready, because the full - and inevitably controversial - final list can be seen down below:

100. Yaya Toure

Manchester City v West Ham United - Premier League

99. Harry Kane

98. Daniele De Rossi

97. Bastian Schweinsteiger

96. Vincent Kompany

95. Karim Benzema


94. Sol Campbell

93. Pepe

92. Edwin van der Sar

91. Arturo Vidal

90. Angel di Maria

Paris Saint-Germain v Stade Rennais FC - 2019 Trophée des Champion

89. Diego Forlan

88. Radamel Falcao

87. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

86. Robin Van Persie

85. Carlos Tevez

Juventus FC v SSC Napoli - Serie A

84. Gaizka Mendieta

83. Virgil van Dijk

82. Hernan Crespo

81. Rio Ferdinand

80. Toni Kroos

Real Madrid v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final

79. Juan Roman Riquelme

78. Thomas Muller

77. Mohamed Salah

76. Diego Godin

75. David Silva


74. Eden Hazard

73. Cesc Fabregas

72. Deco

71. Lilian Thuram

70. Nemanja Vidic

Manchester United v Wigan Athletic - FA Community Shield

69. Marcelo

68. Ryan Giggs

67. Antoine Griezmann

66. Clarence Seedorf

65. Wesley Sneijder

Inter Milan's Dutch midfielder Wesley Sn

64. Gabriel Batistuta

63. Fernando Torres

62. Ruud Van Nistelrooy

61. Claude Makélélé

60. Sergio Aguero

Manchester City's Argentinian striker Se

59. Cafu

58. Miroslav Klose

57. Kevin de Bruyne

56. Henrik Larsson

55. Xabi Alonso

Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso holds up

54. Dennis Bergkamp

53. Gareth Bale

52. Gerard Pique

51. Robert Lewandowski

50. Javier Zanetti

Inter Milan's Argentinian defender and c

49. Didier Drogba

48. Michael Ballack

47. Oliver Kahn

46. Ashley Cole

45. Pavel Nedved

Juventus midfielder Pavel Nedved poses,

44. N'Golo Kante

43. Kylian Mbappe

42. Alessandro Del Piero

41. Alessandro Nesta

40. Patrick Vieira

Arsenal's captain Patrick Vieira holds u

39. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

38. Roberto Carlos

37. Rivaldo

36. Roy Keane

35. John Terry

FC Bayern Muenchen v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Final

34. Paul Scholes

33. David Villa

32. Iker Casillas

31. Francesco Totti

30. Arjen Robben

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Final

29. Wayne Rooney

28. Raul Gonzalez

27. Manuel Neuer

26. Paolo Maldini

25. Dani Alves


24. Carles Puyol

23. Frank Lampard

22. Luka Modric

21. Samuel Eto'o

20. Neymar

Brazil v Germany - Final: Men's Football - Olympics: Day 15

19. Andrei Shevchenko

18. Steven Gerrard

17. Sergio Busquets

16. Luis Suarez

15. Luis Figo

Inter's Luis Figo celebrates after scori...

14. Philipp Lahm

13. Gianluigi Buffon

12. Sergio Ramos

11. Andrea Pirlo

10. Fabio Cannavaro

Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro kisses t

9. Kaka

8. Zinedine Zidane

7. Thierry Henry

6. Ronaldo

5. Andres Iniesta

Netherlands v Spain: 2010 FIFA World Cup Final

4. Ronaldinho

3. Xavi Hernandez

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

1. Lionel Messi

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