The Best Footballers Of The 80s And 90s

Did you know that there was an era in which football had some of the best players ever? And here we talk about those footballers who were the best in their respective ages. While the great footballers of today are getting all the attention, the best footballers of the past are quietly dominating the game.

It is hard to imagine the 80s or 90s without the iconic names of football. Did you know that some of those players are still relevant today? The 1990s were a decade of superstardom. As we move into the new millennium, let’s look at the greatest athletes of the past few decades. Plenty of superstars from the ’80s and ’90s remain relevant today.

We have got that covered in this article, where we talk about some of the best players in the history of football and who the best footballers of the 80s and 90s are.

Best Footballers Of The 80s

The 1980s were a golden era for football, with some of the greatest players of all time gracing the pitch. Here are our picks for the best footballers of the 80s:

  1. Diego Maradona
  2. Paolo Maldini
  3. Ronaldo Nazario
  4. Oliver Kahn
  5. Rivaldo
  6. Zinedine Zidane
  7. Alessandro Del Piero
  8. Roberto Carlos
  9. Thierry Henry
  10. Luis Figo
  11. Ryan Giggs

1. Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time. He was a true superstar when he played for Argentina in the 1978 World Cup. He is regarded as one of the best footballers of the 1980s. In 1986 he helped Argentina win the FIFA World Cup, and he scored the winning goal in the final match against West Germany.

Full NameDiego Armando Maradona
Date Of Birth30 October 1960
CountryLanús, Argentina
Football ClubsBarcelona, Napoli, Boca Juniors, Sevilla
Achievement1986 World Cup Winner
Date Of Death25 November 2020 (aged 60)
Height1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)

He was known for his great ball control and dribbling abilities. Maradona has been a legend in the world of football for more than 30 years. He was a key player in both the 1982 and 1986 FIFA World Cups for Argentina. He played with Argentina for almost 20 years and retired in 2006. Pelé named Maradona one of the top 10 footballers in the history of the sport. At the age of 33, Maradona announced his retirement. Since then, he has continued playing with Sevilla FC. His career ended after the 2005–06 season. He was known for being fast, strong, and agile, and his dribbling skills were legendary.

2. Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini

He is considered to be one of the greatest defenders of all time. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all time. He started his career playing with Brescia and later moved to Milan. His greatest achievement came in 1985 when he won the European Cup with Milan. The defender played for the club for 12 years and scored 13 goals.

He retired from the game in 1997. His ability to read the game was exceptional and he was known for his speed. He could tackle and defend and was also a great free-kick taker. He was a great competitor with great vision, speed, and tactical sense. His ability to win games was legendary.

Full NamePaolo Cesare Maldini
Date Of Birth26 June 1968 (age 54)
CountryMilan, Italy
Football ClubsAc Milan
Goals33. Great Defender
Achievement3 Seria A, 3 Europa Cup
Date Of Death_______
Height1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)

Paolo Maldini played for Italy for a total of ten years. He went on to win three Serie A titles and five Coppa Italia titles with the club. He also helped the club to three European Cups in 1994, 1995, and 1996. That same year, he played for the Italian national team at Euro 92. He captained the team, and they won the tournament for the first time in the tournament history.

3. Ronaldo Nazario

Ronaldo Nazario

Ronaldo is known for his amazing skills and football ability. He is one of the greatest players of all time. He is considered one of the greatest ever to play the game of football. Ronaldo has helped Portugal to win the Euros a total of 6 times. Ronaldo started playing the game at the age of 9. His talent was noticed early on, and he soon signed a contract with a big club.

Full NameRonaldo Luís Nazário de Lima
Date Of Birth18 September 1976 (age 46)
CountryRio de Janeiro, Brazil
Football ClubsBarcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan
Achievement2 World Cup, 1 International Cup, 1 La Liga.
Date Of Death_______
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)

At 20, he made his debut for the club Santos in Brazil. He won numerous awards while playing with Santos, including the league, the cup, and the UEFA Champions League. After that, he moved to Real Madrid. He went on to win more awards. He won the UEFA Champions League 4 times. He was considered a complete player with tremendous speed, technique, ball control, shooting, and scoring. He was known for his quick movements, agility, and fast feet.

4. Oliver Kahn

Oliver Kahn

Is the one of the best goalkeepers in the world today? He has won many trophies for his country, and he has also won trophies for the German club Bayern Munich. He won the UEFA Champions League in 1996 while playing with the club, and then he won the FIFA Club World Cup in 1998. He has played in the World Cup twice, in 1994 and 1998.

Full NameOliver Rolf Kahn
Date Of Birth15 June 1969 (age 53)
CountryKarlsruhe, West Germany
Football ClubsBayern Munich
Achievement2 World Cup, 1 Champions League
Date Of Death_______
Height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)

Kahn’s football skills are exceptional. He has played in both the European Championship and the World Cup. He has represented Germany in two major tournaments. He has also been voted the best goalkeeper in the world by the IFFHS, or the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, in 2001, 2002, and 2003. It is hard to imagine how a goalkeeper could play at this level and maintain a clean sheet for so long. He is so good that he has managed to play for two clubs, the German club FC Bayern Munich and the French club AS Monaco.

5. Rivaldo


He came to the football world from a small town called Vila Nova de Gaia. He was born on November 18, 1974. His first club was Fluminense back in Brazil. But he moved to Europe to play for A.S. Roma. He played at that club for 8 years and was a member of their team when they reached the Champions League final. In 1999, he moved to France, where he spent one year with FC Nantes and a year with Juventus.

Full NameRivaldo Víctor Borba Ferreira
Date Of Birth19 April 1972 (age 50)
CountryRecife, Brazil
Football ClubsSanta Cruz, Barcelona, Milan
Achievement3 La Liga, 1 European Cup, and Champions League.
Date Of Death_______
Height1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)

Finally, he joined Barcelona for one season. He became the best striker in Spain. Rivaldo won 3 leagues with Barcelona. He won the Copa del Rey once with Barcelona. He won La Liga in both 2000 and 2002 with Barca. And his only European Cup title came in 2001 when he won the UEFA Champions League.

6. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane

He is known as one of the greatest football players of all time. He was born on March 16, 1972, and played in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. He helped his team to win 2 Spanish La Liga titles, 2 Spanish Super Cups, 4 UEFA Champions League titles, 2 UEFA Super Cup titles, and 3 UEFA Intercontinental Cup titles. He played for Real Madrid for 12 years.

Full NameZinedine Yazid Zidane
Date Of Birth23 June 1972 (age 50)
CountryMarseille, France
Football ClubsJuventus, Real Madrid
Achievement2 La Liga, 2 Spanish Cup, and 4 Champions League.
Date Of Death_______
Height1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
PositionAttacking midfielder

He was the UEFA Best Player in Europe in 2001 and 2002. Zidane scored a total of 62 goals during his career. He is the only player to have won the FIFA World Player of the Year award four times in a row.

7. Alessandro Del Piero

Alessandro Del Piero

Piero is one of the greatest players to have graced the game. Although he played for a few years at Inter Milan and Roma, he made his name at Juventus, where he played between 1990 and 1995. He is a Juventus legend and can score goals like no other.

Full NameAlessandro Del Piero
Date Of Birth9 November 1974 (age 48)
CountryConegliano, Italy
Football ClubsPadova, Juventus, Sydney FC
Achievement6 Seria A Title and Champions League.
Date Of Death_______
Height1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)

He is considered one of the greatest players ever. His goal tally of 73 goals is quite impressive. He scored one against Fiorentina in the 1993-94 UEFA Champions League match. At the time of his retirement, he was the top scorer in Serie A.

8. Roberto Carlos

Roberto Carlos

He is a Brazilian soccer player who plays for Real Madrid. He started playing in 1980. He was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He won the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1990 and 1994. His nickname is Roberto because it means “little brother.” His mother died when he was five years old, and his father left them soon after. He grew up in poverty and was abandoned by his father. He joined the army as a teenager. He was very good at soccer, and it turned out that he was a great soccer player.

Full NameRoberto Carlos da Silva Rocha
Date Of Birth10 April 1973 (age 49)
CountryGarça, São Paulo, Brazil
Football ClubsPalmeiras, Real Madrid, Inter Milan
Achievement1 World Cup, 4 La Liga Titles, 3 Champions League.
Date Of Death_______
Height1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)

Soon after, he became a professional player for Flamengo. In 1982, he joined the Italian club, Napoli. In 1985, he moved to the French club Marseille. After that, he moved back to the English club Nottingham Forest. However, he only stayed at Nottingham Forest for a short time and eventually moved back to Marseille. He played at Marseille until 1988. He then moved to Spain, where he played for Real Madrid. In 1992, he won the FIFA World Cup for the first time.

9. Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry

Henry is a French footballer who plays forward for the English club Arsenal. He is the all-time leading goal scorer in the Premier League. The Frenchman won the UEFA Champions League twice with his former club Monaco. The 29-year-old player was born in St Germain, France, and is of Guadeloupe descent. He became famous because of his skills. In 2005, he scored the winning goal against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final.

Full NameThierry Daniel Henry
Date Of Birth17 August 1977 (age 45)
CountryLes Ulis, France
Football ClubsMonaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona
Achievement2 English Premiere League, 2 Champions League.
Date Of Death_______
Height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)

Henry has also played for France’s national team. His international career began in 2001, and he became a key player for the national team after joining the squad. His first goal for the team came on September 8, 2003, against Belarus. He is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, and there is no doubt that he will be remembered for a long time.

10. Luis Figo

Luis Figo

He is a Portuguese footballer who plays for Barcelona. His playing career started when he was 15 years old. He has been the club team captain for almost a decade. He is also the vice-captain of the Spanish national team. He won three UEFA club titles, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Cup, and the Copa del Rey.

Full NameLuís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo
Date Of Birth4 November 1972 (age 50)
CountryAlmada, Portugal
Football ClubsSporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid
Achievement2 La Liga, 1 Champions League.
Date Of Death_______
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)

In addition, he has won the Spanish Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup. He was named to the FIFA 100 list of the greatest living footballers in 2004.

11. Ryan Giggs

 Ryan Giggs

Played football for the famous English team Manchester United. He became one of the best players in the world at an early age. His career with the English team began when he was 15 years old. He became one of the first members of the famous “Class of 92” when he joined the club. The Class of 92 was a group of young players who came together at Manchester United and became the main reason the English team won the Premier League in 1993. The Class became famous and inspired other young players to join the team. In 1996, Giggs became the captain of the team.

Full NameRyan Joseph Giggs
Date Of Birth29 November 1973 (age 49)
CountryCanton, Cardiff, Wales
Football ClubsManchester United
Achievement6 English Premiere League, 1 Champions League.
Date Of Death_______
Height5 ft 10 in (1.79 m)
PositionWide midfielder

He retired from the game after playing for the team for 18 years. His last game with Manchester United was against Chelsea in 1999. Ryan Giggs is a well-known footballer. The English player played as a midfielder for Manchester United. He has been known for his leadership skills. Ryan Giggs played for the team for over 18 years. He is regarded as one of the best midfielders of all time. He is also regarded as one of the best players in Manchester United’s history.

Best Footballers Of The 90s

In the 1990s, football saw some incredible players grace the pitch. From superstars like Ronaldo and Zidane to more understated greats like Giggs and Bergkamp, there were plenty of talented individuals plying their trade in the beautiful game.

Now, almost two decades later, it’s time to reflect on who the best footballers of the 1990s were. This decade saw many changes in the sport, with the advent of professionalism and the rise of commercialism.

1. Socrates


He played for the Brazilian national team for 22 years and was known for his speed and ball skills. He has made several appearances in the FIFA World Cup and won several awards. In 1984, he was named the World Footballer of the Year.

Full NameSócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira
Date Of Birth19 February 1954
CountryBelém, Pará, Brazil
Football ClubsSantos, Flamengo
Achievement1 World Cup
Date Of Death4 December 2011 (aged 57)
Height1.92 m (6 ft 4 in)

During his career, Sócrates was named to seven consecutive All-Star teams. The Brazilian National Team won the World Cup in 1958 and 1962. They were runners-up to Italy in 1958 and Mexico in 1970.

2. Hugo Sanchez

Hugo Sanchez

Known as one of the greatest football players of all time, he was born on May 3, 1979. Hugo began playing football at age five and played for the school team until he moved to Real Madrid. His career at Real Madrid was short-lived as he was sold to Atlético Madrid for over two million pounds in 1995. At Atlético, he remained till the end of his career.

Full NameHugo Sánchez Márquez
Date Of Birth11 July 1958 (age 64)
CountryMexico City, Mexico
Football ClubsAthletico Madrid
AchievementLa Liga
Date Of Death4 December 2011 (aged 57)
Height1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)

The striker became the league’s all-time top scorer with 459 goals, was a key player at Atlético Madrid and scored an amazing 89 goals in 92 matches. He then played for another five teams after his retirement and later served as director of football at Rayo Vallecano.

3. Ruud Gullit

Ruud Gullit

He was an attacking midfielder. In 1985, Ruud Gullit joined the Dutch football team Feyenoord. After five years with Feyenoord, he moved to the English club West Ham United in 1990. In 1991, Ruud Gullit made his debut for the Dutch national team.

Full NameRuud Gullit
Date Of Birth1 September 1962 (age 60)
CountryAmsterdam, Netherlands
Football ClubsPSV,  Ac Milan, Chelsea
AchievementEnglish Premier League, Ballon D or
Date Of Death4 December 2011 (aged 57)
Height1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
PositionForward, midfielder, defender

While at West Ham, Ruud Gullit won the FA and Football League Cup. He played for the Netherlands at the 1994 FIFA World Cup and Euro 1992. His international career with Holland continued until 2001.

4. Michel Platini

Michel Platini

Platini is the only person to win two European Championships with different national teams. He was first picked for the French National Team in 1970 and has been a key player ever since. He is the only player to score against Argentina and West Germany in the same game. His career was less successful in the 80s. However, he helped his country win the 1990 World Cup, and he went on to help France win another tournament in 1998. He also helped France qualify for the 2002 World Cup. He has led France to become the world’s most frequently defeated team.

Full NameMichel François Platini
Date Of Birth21 June 1955 (age 67)
CountryJœuf, France
Football ClubsNancy, Juventus
AchievementSerie A, French 1 League.
Date Of Death4 December 2011 (aged 57)
Height1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)

Platini made history when he was elected the president of the FFF in 2015. He led the FFF for a five-year term, during which the world governing body saw the introduction of the golden boot, the award for the top goalscorer at the World Cup. He has been the president ever since.

5. Marco van Basten

Marco van Basten

He Is one of the greatest soccer players ever. He started his career in 1990 and played with PSV Eindhoven for ten years. He was the captain of the club for five years. At the beginning of his career, he was nicknamed “Little Magician” because of his skills and talents. In the 1990s, he was the best player in the world and the best player in Europe.

Full NameMarcel van Basten
Date Of Birth31 October 1964 (age 58)
CountryUtrecht, Netherlands
Football ClubsAjax, AC Milan
Achievement3 Times Ballon D or Winner
Date Of Death4 December 2011 (aged 57)
Height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)

He helped the Dutch national team to qualify for the World Cup in 1994. In his last season with PSV, he scored 44 goals and won the European Golden Shoe. He retired from professional football in 2000, and he became a manager of the Dutch national team. He is now the manager of Bayern Munich. After that, he became the coach of Milan and the club’s general manager.

6. Zico


He is considered one of the greatest football players of all time. He was born in São Paulo, Brazil, on March 3, 1953. Zico started his football career in 1961 when he joined Santos FC in Rio de Janeiro. He was with Santos for nine years and became the club’s captain in 1968. He also played for Atlético Mineiro, Vasco da Gama, and the Brazilian National Team. He was also named the best player in Brazil in 1963, 1965, and 1967.

Full NameArthur Antunes Coimbra
Date Of Birth3 March 1953 (age 69)
CountryRio de Janeiro, Brazil
Football ClubsUdineso, Flamengo
Achievement5th Highest Scorer For Brazil
Date Of Death4 December 2011 (aged 57)
Height1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
PositionAttacking midfielder

He is widely regarded as the best defender in history. He has been called the “King of the Wing.” He scored several spectacular goals, including one that he scored in a World Cup qualifier against England in 1966. His goals in the 1970 World Cup Finals helped Brazil win the trophy. Zico retired from football in 1983 and later worked as a coach. He was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 2002. His number is 9, and he is among the most respected Brazilian players. He is widely recognized as one of the most influential football players.

7.  Lothar Matthaus

Lothar Matthaus

Lothar is one of the most celebrated German footballers. He began playing for FC Bayern Munich in 1982, and since then, he has been a regular member of the team’s squad. At the age of 27, he became the captain of the team in 1989. He has led Bayern Munich to four Bundesliga titles, one European Cup, two DFB-Pokals, and the UEFA Cup. His name came up again in 2004 after his team won the Champions League.

Full NameLothar Herbert Matthäus
Date Of Birth21 March 1961 (age 61)
CountryErlangen, West Germany
Football ClubsBayern Munich, Inter Milan
AchievementWon Uefa Euro 1980
Date Of Death4 December 2011 (aged 57)
Height1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)
PositionMidfielder, sweeper

Matthaus was born in 1951. He has also earned numerous other awards, such as the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1988, the Ballon d’Or in 1990 and 1993, and the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year in 1989, 1990, and 1993. He retired from active football in 1997 and now works as a director in the club. He is currently serving as a manager for the German national team.

8.  Franco Baresi

Franco Baresi

He is an Italian professional footballer who has been retired for over a decade. He was a defender who played with Milan during his playing career. His career began in 1979, and he ended his professional playing career in 2000. Franco Baresi was born on September 5, 1962. He graduated from the Milan youth academy and made his debut for the first team in 1982. He was a part of the Italy national football team as well. He was an Italian youth international.

Full NameFranchino Baresi
Date Of Birth8 May 1960 (age 62))
CountryTravagliato, Italy
Football ClubsAC Milan
AchievementWon the 1982 FIFA World Cup
Date Of Death4 December 2011 (aged 57)
Height1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)

He was born in Milan, Italy. As a defender, he was known for his pace, speed, ball control, passing ability, and tackling. In 1994, he was transferred to Parma. After six years at the club, he was transferred to Juventus, where he stayed until 2000.

As a footballer, Franco Baresi had an excellent career. At Juventus, he won five Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia titles, one UEFA Cup title, one Supercoppa Italiana title, one European Supercup title, one Intercontinental Supercup, and one Intercontinental Cup title. He was a key part of the Milan side and helped the club win several trophies.

9. Bernd Schuster

Bernd is one of the greatest footballers ever. He has made his name with the German national team since 1984. He played in many positions, including wingback, defensive midfielder, and striker. He is known for being a tough guy and a great defender. During the 1988 European Championships, he scored the first goal in Germany’s first victory in an international tournament.

Full NameBernd Schuster
Date Of Birth22 December 1959 (age 62)
CountryAugsburg, West Germany
Football ClubsBarcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid
AchievementGolden Ball Winner 1980 Euro Cup
Date Of Death4 December 2011 (aged 57)
Height1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)

He became known for his style of play and how much heart he had. When he retired from the national team in 1994, he had made nearly 180 appearances, scoring 39 goals. He won the German Cup twice and the German League once. He won the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, and the Intercontinental Cup. His nickname was Der Bomber (the Bomber).


In conclusion, the best footballers of the 80s and 90s include legends such as Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Pele, and Diego Maradona. Their teams and accomplishments are still remembered today, and their skills have yet to be surpassed. If you’re looking for a great football experience in the past, be sure to check out these legends.

Who possessed some of the most excellent skills and abilities on the field. They were able to make a name for themselves and achieve great things, including winning titles and scoring international goals.

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Shebbroto Halder has been writing for years on Football. He has also played Football at the state level in his time. His passion for Football has made him what he is today. He enjoys keeping up with everything related to Football.


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