Messi, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zidane: Fans rank the 25 best players of the 2000s

There were so many brilliant players in the 2000s.

Ronaldinho, Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo Nazario, Lionel Messi, Paolo Maldini… the list is endless.

But who is the best of the lot?

Football fans have voted for the 25 best players of the 2000s on Ranker.

You can view how they have voted below…

25. Clarence Seedorf

The Dutch legend played a big role in an AC Milan side that won two Champions League’s in the 2000s (2003, 2007).

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24. Alessandro Del Piero

Del Piero scored 290 times for Juventus and helped Italy to a World Cup triumph in 2006.

23. Samuel Eto’o

Eto’o established himself as one of the greatest African footballers of all-time during stints with Barcelona and Inter Milan. He won the Champions League three times.

BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 12: Samuel Eto’o of Barcelona celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Barcelona and Stuttgart at the Camp Nou stadium on December 12, 2007 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

22. Patrick Vieira

One of the greatest captains of the Premier League era, Vieira led Arsenal to an invincible season and also enjoyed successful spells with Juventus and Inter Milan.

21. Carles Puyol

Puyol possessed a competitive spirit like no other. He enjoyed great success with both Barcelona and Spain.

20. Andrea Pirlo

An elegant midfielder, Pirlo dictated the tempo of a game whenever he stepped on a football field.

DORTMUND, GERMANY – JULY 04: Andrea Pirlo of Italy celebrates during the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 Semi-final match between Germany and Italy played at the Stadium Dortmund on July 04, 2006 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

19. Kaka

Kaka played at an extraordinarily high level for AC Milan before making a €67 million move to Real Madrid in 2009.

18. Roberto Carlos

Carlos is regarded as one of the best left-backs of all-time. He starred for Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Brazil during a terrific football career.

17. Edgar Davids

A fearsome midfielder, Davids’ best spell arguably came at Juventus, where he won three Serie A titles.

TURIN – NOVEMBER 17: Edgar Davids of Juventus celebrates scoring during the Serie A match between Torino and Juventus, played at the Stadio Delle Alpi, Turin, Italy on November 17, 2002. (Photo by Grazia Neri/Getty Images)

16. Arjen Robben

Robben’s left-foot was pure magic. The amount of times he cut inside and bent in a curler with his left-foot was astonishing. Defenders knew what he was going to do but they couldn’t stop it.

15. Phillip Lahm

Lahm was a dependable full-back who very rarely had a bad game.

14. Iker Casillas

The legendary goalkeeper starred for Real Madrid and Spain in a glittering career. He isn’t the highest rated goalkeeper on the list, though…

MADRID, SPAIN – JANUARY 14: Iker Casillas of Real Madrid celebrates after Madrid scored their first goal against Zaragoza during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Real Zaragoza at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on January 14, 2007 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

13. Cafu

Cafu is arguably the greatest right-back that’s ever lived. He was assured in defence and great going forward.

12. Gianluigi Buffon

Buffon will go down in history as one of the greatest goalkeepers in football history. Now 44, he’s still going strong with Parma.

11. Alessandro Nesta

Nesta won the treble with Lazio in 2000 before going on to have great success in a 10-year stint with AC Milan.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – DECEMBER 7: Alessandro Nesta of Milan in action during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Celtic and AC Milan at Celtic Park on December 7, 2004 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

10. Dennis Bergkamp

Bergkamp was a true genius with a ball at his feet. His exploits with Arsenal meant he was the 6th inductee to the Premier League Hall of Fame.

9. Thierry Henry

Bergkamp and Henry wreaked havoc at Arsenal together. Henry won two Premier League titles before being part of a historic Barcelona side that won six trophies in 2009.

8. Paolo Maldini

Maldini is one of the greatest defenders ever. A one club man, Maldini played 902 times for AC Milan and helped them win 15 trophies, including five Champions League’s.

CHICAGO – JULY 27: Paolo Maldini #3 of AC Milan looks to set up a play during a friendly match against the Chicago Fire on July 27, 2005 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. AC Milan defeated the Chicago Fire 3-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/ Getty Images)

7. Xavi

Xavi possessed unmatched technical ability. So many tried to get the ball off the Barcelona and Spain legend and failed miserably.

6. Andres Iniesta

It’s fitting that Iniesta and Xavi are separated by just one spot in the list. They were both quite extraordinary midfielders.

5. Zinedine Zidane

Zidane had everything you needed in a midfield player and more. He was a joy to watch.

MADRID, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 23: A portrait of Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid prior to the UEFA Champions League Group B match between Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen, held at The Santiago Bernab?u Stadium on November 23, 2004 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

4. Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho is arguably the most entertaining player of all-time. He possessed every trick in the book and always played the game with a smile on his face.

3. Lionel Messi

Messi broke into Barcelona’s first-team in 2004 and wasn’t in his peak in the 2000s. Still, he begun to perform at an extraordinary level by the end of 2009 and is more than deserving of a spot on the podium.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

Like Messi, Ronaldo wasn’t at his best until the 2010s. But he was already a Ballon d’Or winner and became the most expensive player ever when he signed for Real Madrid in a £80m move in 2009.

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN – DECEMBER 21: Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United in action during the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2008 Final match between Manchester United and Liga De Quito at the International Stadium Yokohama on December 21, 2008 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
  1. Ronaldo Nazario

Anyone that had the pleasure of watching Ronaldo play will tell you how good he was at his peak. Sadly, injuries meant his time at the very top wasn’t as long as it should have been, but he was still an incredible talent who had everything needed of a top class striker.

What a list that is. Among the names to miss out on the top 25 include Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Francesco Totti, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney, Rivaldo, Andriy Shevchenko, Luis Figo, Raul and Fabio Cannavaro.

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