Ronaldo, Zidane, Beckham: The 30 greatest European footballers of all time ranked

  • Kobe Tong

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Euro 2020 has shone a light on some of the continent's best performers.

World-class European stars

Everyone from Cristiano Ronaldo to Paul Pogba have used this year's European Championships as a platform to prove themselves as some of the best footballers in the world.

It goes to show that although world-class players emerge from every corner and continent of the world that Europe continues to produce many of the top performers in the beautiful game.

However, where the current crop of European heroes slot into the long and decorated history of footballing icons from the continent is another question entirely.

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Legendary European players

Nevertheless, here at GIVEMESPORT, we wanted to put that very question under the microscope by looking at who football fans consider to be the greatest European footballers in history.

With many of the contenders in the GOAT debate such as Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Pele hailing from South America, it's fascinating to look at the question purely through a European lens.

To achieve this, we're turning to ranker.com and their interactive list titled: 'The Best Soccer Players of All Time' where supporters can up-vote and down-vote players they consider to be the greatest.

Greatest European players of all time

And with the carnival of Euro 2020 firmly on our minds, we're jettisoning any player who didn't represent a men's national team from European shores to compile football fans' unofficial top 30.

Got it? Well, without further ado, be sure to check out who more than 440,000 supporters have voted as the 30 greatest male European players to have graced the beautiful game:

30. Philipp Lahm

29. Robert Lewandowski

28. Sergio Ramos

27. Andrea Pirlo

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26. Luis Figo

25. Dennis Bergkamp

24. Franz Beckenbauer

23. Manuel Neuer

22. Peter Schmeichel

21. George Best

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30-21 summary

Sigh, that's right, we're sad to report that European legends such as Paolo Maldini, Lothar Matthaus, Ferenc Puskas and Franco Baresi have all wrongly been excluded from the top 30 by fans.

It's baffling to see German icon Beckenbauer so low in the rankings, too, but at least goalkeepers and defenders are being shown some love with Lahm, Ramos and Schmeichel making the cut.

20. Arjen Robben

19. Raul

18. Steven Gerrard

17. Iker Casillas

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16. Carles Puyol

15. Roberto Baggio

14. Francesco Totti

13. Wayne Rooney

12. Gerd Muller

11. Lev Yashin

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20-11 summary

Rooney in 13th!? Stop the world, I want to get off, because as much as Rooney's England and Manchester United records are historic, there's no way he should be breathing down Muller's neck.

And the German poacher himself should rightfully be throwing his toys out the pram at having failed to make the top 10 with everyone from Gerrard to Robben having been scandalously overrated.

None of these players are anything shy of legendary, let's make that abundantly clear, but the standard is such that Puyol and Totti shouldn't be just a few places away from the top 10.

10. David Beckham

9. Thierry Henry

8. Johan Cruyff

7. Zlatan Ibrahimović

6. Xavi

5. Andres Iniesta

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4. Gianluigi Buffon

3. Luka Modric

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

1. Zinedine Zidane 

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Top ten summary

We're not even going to give oxygen to the fact that Beckham and Modric are inexplicably in the top ten because clearly a few United and Real Madrid fans got a little overexcited with their votes.

Nevertheless, my faith in football fans is somewhat restored by the presence of Cruyff, Xavi, Iniesta and Henry amongst some of the highest positions, even if their exact placings need a reshuffle.

And the decision to place Zidane over Ronaldo is certainly an eye-opening one.

For me, it's an argument that simply doesn't hold water given Ronaldo's status as the greatest international goalscorer of all time and arguably the finest poacher in history depending on whose stats you trust.

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Zidane topples Ronaldo

So, there's plenty to unpack from the umpteenth reminder that ranker.com and the platform that it gives football fans can throw up some seriously strange results for sport's biggest debates.

And clearly there is a far bigger conversation surrounding the European GOAT than many would have expected with Ronaldo's seemingly unassailable status usurped by none other than Zidane.

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Be sure to let us know who you consider to be the greatest European footballers of all time across our social channels. Clue: It's not Beckham.

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