Ronaldinho, Zidane, Henry: The highest-rated FIFA XI of all-time - no Ronaldo or Messi

In recent years FIFA has gone card crazy.

EA Sports’ obsession with frequent card promotion schemes has meant that the modern day FIFA games are full to the brim with different types of ‘special cards’.

From ‘Shapeshifters’ to ‘Winter Wildcards’ there really is no limit on what kind of unique spin you can acquire across some of the world’s best players.

But what about the good old days? When packing an 87-rated Manuel Neuer card in FIFA 13 was cause for elation rather than just a, ‘meh’, as you toss the controller to one side.

Before the promotions, we still had many top tier FIFA cards that were rated right up to near the 100 mark and were guaranteed to cause an absolute scene when you unleashed them on an opponent.

Who, though, were the very highest-rated?

And no, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo do not make the XI.

For clarification, ‘special cards’ are not taken into account, instead the focus is on the base rating for any FIFA player since the game’s inception.

Enjoy a lovely trip down memory lane.

GK: Gianluigi Buffon (97) – FIFA 05

Isn’t it incredible to think Buffon is still going and is present on the most recent FIFA? Albeit with a rating of 80 rather than a staggering 97.

Nevertheless, his longevity is miraculous and it’s worth remembering that he was still rated an impressive 88 overall on FIFA 19 when at Paris-Saint Germain.

Buffon with Juventus
Buffon with Juventus

RB: Lilian Thuram (92) – FIFA 05

The French World Cup winner is the lowest rated player in this team but still provides exceptional value at right-back.

He was certainly some player in his day, especially when at Juventus and Barcelona.

CB: Alessandro Nesta (94) – FIFA 05

If we’d told you before that a member of the AC Milan defence from the noughties had made the cut you would probably have thought we were talking about Paolo Maldini.

We certainly would…

However, it is in fact his trustee deputy, Nesta, that rises above the crop. He was arguably at his best in this stage of his career, helping Milan to the Serie A title and conceding just 24 goals on route.

Nesta with AC Milan
Nesta with AC Milan

CB: Fernando Hierro (94) – FIFA 02

Former Real Madrid and – cough, cough – Bolton legend, Hierro set the precedent for all defenders across FIFA with his 94 rating in 2002.

LB: Roberto Carlos (94) – FIFA 05

The 2005 edition really loved its defenders, ey?

It’s no shock to see Carlos slotting in on the left-side of the defence, not that you’d care about doing any defending with him on your team.

Much like if you’ve been lucky enough – or dare we say, sweated FIFA enough – to secure his icon card on more recent versions, all you want to do is pull the trigger.

And who could blame you, it’s Carlos!

RM: Luis Figo (97) – FIFA 02

This phase of footballing history really belongs to Figo. As you’ll well know, the Portuguese icon swapped Barcelona for their arch-rivals Real Madrid in 2000, despite being their captain.

Across the year that followed, Figo was awarded the 2000 Ballon d’Or for performances in his final season in Catalonia, was instrumental in Madrid winning the La Liga in his debut season, oh, and was then crowned the winner of the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year after that.

It’s no wonder he got a 97 rating…

Luis Figo Real Madrid
9 May 2001: Luis Figo of Real Madrid celebrates scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi-final Second Leg between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium, Berlin, Germany. Bayern Munich won the match 2 – 1. \ Mandatory Credit: Mike Hewitt /Allsport

CM: Matteo Brighi (97) – FIFA 03

Who, and, how high?! If you’re thinking something along those lines then, snap.

Brighi was the highest rated player on FIFA 03 after being awarded the Serie A Young Player of the Year in the season previous whilst on loan at Bologna.

We have absolutely no idea why FIFA thought it fit to class him as a 97-rated player, though…

He ended up a bit of a journeyman going from one Italian club to the next before retiring in 2019.

CM: Zinedine Zidane (96) – FIFA 05

Brighi to Zidane? Well done, FIFA…

Zizou is something of a God to many devout football fans and that was the case whilst he was playing too.

Of course, he famously led France to the 1998 World Cup followed by the 2000 European Championships.

And in this edition of FIFA, he was fresh off being named in the Team of the Tournament at the 2004 Euros.

Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid
04 February 2006, Madrid, Spain — Real Madrid’s French midfielder Zinedine Zidane celebrates a goal during a Spanish First Division soccer match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. | Location: Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Victor Fraile/Corbis via Getty Images)

LM: Ronaldinho (95) – FIFA 06

Ronaldinho was technically a CAM in the game, but PlanetFootball, who kindly created this rather interesting concept, have selected Ronaldinho as a left-midfielder given he operated in that role for the majority of his career.

Imagine how deadly this left-hand side would be with the two Brazilians – Carlos and Ronaldinho – wreaking havoc.

ST: Ronaldo (98) – FIFA 04

Um, a 98-rating for a base card? R9 really was something else.

We can’t lie that we are delighted to see him leading the way with the highest FIFA rating of all-time.

Ronaldo Nazario Real Madrid
ronaldo nazario goal

ST: Thierry Henry (97) – FIFA 05

It’s only fair that the undisputed Premier League king represents for his institution.

Henry is the only player to make the XI that was operating on English soil when given the rating, and considering how much damage he was doing for the Gunners at the time, it’s no surprise to see the Frenchman carrying a lofty 97 overall tag.

You love to see it.

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