The greatest player ever from the top 20 nations in world football

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There’s nothing quite like the World Cup, is there?

Football fans may moan about international breaks ruining the momentum of the domestic campaign but when a summer tournament comes around, we simply can’t get enough.

And the World Cup is the pinnacle.

Watching 32 nations with the very best players take part in one tournament over the course of a month - it’s a football fan’s idea of heaven.

Only eight different sides have won the competition, with Brazil holding the record after tasting success five times.

But which Brazil side from those five triumphs was the best? And who was their best player during those five wins?

It got us here at GIVEMESPORT thinking: Who is the greatest ever player at each of the top 20 nations in world football?

To determine this, we've taken both their club and international career into account. 

Let’s take a look:

BELGIUM | EDEN HAZARD

Despite not winning any international trophies, this Belgium side is probably the best in the nation’s history. Their best player? Eden Hazard.

The Real Madrid star has been capped 104 times, scoring 30 goals and will surely go on to become the most capped Belgian player ever - an honour currently held by Jan Vertonghen.

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FRANCE | ZINEDINE ZIDANE

In his first World Cup, Zidane was the hero for the host nation, scoring two goals in the final against Brazil in 1998. Two years later, he helped France win Euro 2000.

Six years after that, he played his final match as a professional in the 2006 World Cup final. He scored an outrageous dinked penalty against Italy before being sent-off for a headbutt on Marco Materazzi in extra-time.

In his club career, he became a club legend at Juventus and Real Madrid, winning three league titles, a Ballon d’Or and scoring THAT goal in the 2002 Champions League final for Real.

French Zinedine Zidane (C) waves to the

BRAZIL | PELE

Three World Cups and more than 1000 career goals.

He may not have had the most glorified club career, representing Santos and, in his final few years, New York Cosmos, but his 77 goals in 92 caps for Brazil is extraordinary.

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ENGLAND | SIR BOBBY CHARLTON

A Manchester United legend, having played more than 750 times for the club. He also helped England win the 1966 World Cup, winning the Ballon d'Or in the same year.

For his country, Charlton racked up 106 caps and scored 49 goals - a record that has now been beaten by Wayne Rooney.

Bobby Charlton

URUGUAY | ENZO FRANCESCOLI

Zidane’s idol, Francescoli played for Montevideo Wanderers, River Plate, RC Paris, Marseille, Cagliari and Torino during his club career. The midfielder played 73 times for Uruguay, helping them win three different Copa Americas.

Uruguayan captain and midfielder Enzo Francescoli

PORTUGAL | CRISTIANO RONALDO

Ronaldo just edges out Eusebio.

700 career goals, five Champions Leagues and five Ballon d’Ors.

Just the 95 goals in 162 appearances for his country helping them win Euro 2016 and the UEFA Nations League.

One of the greatest ever.

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CROATIA | LUKA MODRIC

Four Champions League triumphs with Real Madrid and he also broke up the Ronaldo and Lionel Messi duopoly by winning the Ballon d’Or last year.

He’s earned 126 caps for Croatia, helping them reach the World Cup final in 2018.

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SPAIN | ANDRES INIESTA

Iniesta just pips the likes of Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas and Xavi to this honour.

A Barca legend, representing the club over the course of 16 seasons, winning nine La Ligas and six Champions Leagues.

Was part of the conquering Spanish squad who won Euro 2008, 2010 World Cup and then Euro 2012.

The midfielder has also finished second, third and fourth in the Ballon d’Or rankings.

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ARGENTINA | LIONEL MESSI

Messi beats the great Diego Maradona by the fact that he’s the greatest player to have ever played the game.

He may not have won a major international trophy with his country but Messi’s club career has been quite ridiculous.

608 goals in 695 matches for Barca, 10 La Ligas, four Champions Leagues and five Ballon d’Ors.

The GOAT.

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COLOMBIA | CARLOS VALDERRAMA

Valderrama is often remembered for his incredible hair - but he was also an incredible player.

Played for a vast array of clubs in Colombia, France, Spain and USA and represented his nation 111 times.

Just avoid seeing a picture of him with straight hair because it will haunt you.

Colombian midfielder Carlos Valderrama walks off t

MEXICO | HUGO SANCHEZ

208 goals in 283 appearances for Real Madrid and is the fourth highest scorer in the history of La Liga. He played in three World Cups and was part of the Mexican side that reached the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup.

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NETHERLANDS | JOHAN CRYUFF

You’ve got to be good to have a skill named after you.

There have been some incredible Dutch players down the years but former Ajax and Barca hero Cryuff edges out the likes of Marco van Basten and Ronald Koeman.

190 goals in 240 matches for Ajax earned him a world-record move to Barcelona, where he continued to show he was one of the greatest ever.

He won three Ballon d'Ors during his career.

Cruyff At World Cup

SWITZERLAND | STEPHANE CHAPUISAT

The striker played 103 times for Switzerland and represented them at the 1994 World Cup and Euro 1996 and 2004.

Voted Swiss Footballer of the Year on four occasions, Chapuisat represented the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Grasshoppers and Young Boys during his career.

Swiss player Stephane Chapuisat speaks t

DENMARK | MICHAEL LAUDRUP

Laudrup won league titles with Ajax, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus - not a bad CV.

After making 104 appearances for his nation, he was officially named the best Danish footballer voted of all-time by the Danish Football Association.

We rest our case.

Michael Laudrup of Denmark

ITALY | PAULO MALDINI

He may not have won an international trophy but Maldini played 126 times for Italy - the third most in Italian history.

During his 902 appearances for AC Milan, he won seven league titles and won five European Cups/Champions Leagues.

One of the greatest defenders of all-time.

Paulo Maldini

GERMANY | FRANZ BECKENBAUER

Der Kaiser.

Beckenbauer is credited for inventing the sweeper role. He played largely for Bayern Munich during his club career, winning five league titles and three European Cups.

He represented West German 103 at three different World Cups - winning it in 1990 - and claimed two Ballon d’Ors.

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CHILE | ELIAS FIGUEROA

Figueroa captained Chile at the 1966, 1974 and 1982 World Cups and is recognised as one of the best defenders in the history of football.

Pele once said: “If Figueroa would have won a World Cup he would be the best defender in the history.”

Who are we to argue?

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SWEDEN | ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC

Not everyone’s cup of tea but what a career Zlatan has had. 31 trophies in Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France and England for one of the biggest characters football has ever seen.

Named in the UEFA Team of the Year on four occasions and has scored 62 times in 116 appearances for his country.

Still going strong at 38.

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PERU | TEOFILO CUBILLAS

Cubillas played in the Peru side that won the 1975 Copa America and helped them reach the World Cup quarter-finals at the 1970 World Cup and again in 1978.

He’s also one of only three players to score five or more goals in two different World Cups - with Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller being the other two.

In his club career, the attacking midfielder scored 117 goals in 175 matches for Allianza Lima before playing for the likes of Basel, Porto and Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

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SENEGAL | SADIO MANE

Mane has established himself as one of the best players in world football at Liverpool.

Following his £34 million move from Southampton in 2016, Mane has scored 68 times for the Reds and contributed to their Champions League triumph last season.

He also shared the Premier League Golden Boot in 2018/19.

He’s only 10 goals away from becoming Senegal’s all-time top goalscorer - something you certainly wouldn’t bet against.

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