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10 greatest dribblers of all time

Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane in action
Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane in action
Abhinav Anand
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Very few things in football give as much pleasure as perfectly executed dribbles. Footballers who have the talent and the ability to run past opponents with pace and trickery are highly rated and adored by the viewers.

It is a tough skill, and few players have complete mastery over it. To be a master of dribbling, complete control of the ball is required.

Aesthetically pleasing and highly effective, a good dribble is a work of art. We look at the 10 greatest dribblers of all time.


#10 Zinedine Zidane

Real Madrid v Granada CF - La Liga Santander
Real Madrid v Granada CF - La Liga Santander

One of the greatest players of all time and now one of the best managers in world football, Zinedine Zidane has achieved a lot in the world of football.

A prodigious talent, Zidane was an elegant, technically gifted midfielder capable of producing the extraordinary on a regular basis. A highly creative player, Zidane was one of the most marketable footballers during his prime, and represented some of the biggest clubs in the world like Juventus and Real Madrid.

The World Cup winner took charge of Real Madrid in 2016, and led them to three consecutive Champions League trophies during his first stint at the club. He returned in 2019, and won a La Liga title during his second spell. He left the club this summer.

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#9 Roberto Baggio

J.League Legend v Glorie Azzurre
J.League Legend v Glorie Azzurre

Roberto Baggio is one of Italy's greatest, and the "Divine Ponytail" mesmerized fans of the game with his superb attacking capabilities.

Baggio began his career at Vicenza, but made his name at Fiorentina. Seen by many as one of the club's greatest ever, Baggio suffered serious injury issues during the start of his Fiorentina spell, but bounced back to produce excellent performances.

Juventus came calling and Baggio joined the club under controversial circumstances. He won the Serie A once with the Old Lady. Throughout his career, the Italy international was renowned as a dead-ball specialist and a world-class dribbler, who bamboozled opposition defenses with his quick feet.

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#8 Ronaldo Nazario

The Best FIFA Football Awards - Green Carpet Arrivals
The Best FIFA Football Awards - Green Carpet Arrivals

The man credited with transforming the no.9 position, Ronaldo Nazario, is cited as a source of inspiration by top footballers like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe.

Nicknamed "O Fenomeno", Ronaldo was a fearsome striker during his prime. A complete forward, the Brazil international combined rapid pace and physical strength with excellent passing, control on the ball and intelligence. A prolific goalscorer, Ronaldo is well-remembered for his amazing goals and astonishing dribbles.

Ronaldo won the Ballon d'Or twice during his career and won the World Cup twice as well. However, the forward was unlucky with injuries and suffered some serious ones which cut short his phenomenal career.

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#7 Rivellino

Global Fifa World Cup Trophy
Global Fifa World Cup Trophy

Rivellino, an extraordinary dribbler, spent much of his playing career in Brazil, representing Corinthians and Fluminense during that time.

A graceful footballer, Rivellino was a world-class technician who excelled at passing. The midfielder was one of Brazil's most important players as they clinched the World Cup in 1970, and was included in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team that year.

Rivellino left Brazil in 1978 to play for Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia. After a few seasons there, he retired in 1981. He managed Japanese club Shimizu S-Pulse briefly in 1994.

The creator of the famed Elastico, Rivellino was a true magician on the ball.

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#6 Johan Cruyff

Red Carpet - 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards
Red Carpet - 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards

Without Johan Cruyff's influence, both as a player and as a manager, it is hard to imagine where football would be today.

Cruyff revolutionized football with his style of play and his thought process. A product of the Ajax academy, Cruyff was the best player in the world during his prime. An artist, the Netherlands international was a highly creative player as well as a prolific goalscorer.

Cruyff left Ajax in 1973 to join Barcelona. Here, once again, he etched a permanent legacy. Ajax and Barcelona are now intrinsically linked thanks to the great man, and Cruyff's fingerprints are still visible in how the clubs are run, from the youth academy to the senior team. The three-time Ballon d'Or winner managed Ajax and Barcelona as well, with great success.

The creator of the Cruyff turn, Johan Cruyff is one of the greatest players of all time.

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#5 Pele

2014 FIFA World Cup - One Year To Go Event
2014 FIFA World Cup - One Year To Go Event

Seen by many as the greatest player to have played the game, Pele is one of the most recognizable names in the world of football.

The Brazil international spent much of his club career with Santos, where he is the club's all-time top goalscorer. However, it was his Brazil career that propelled him to incredible heights. He won three World Cups with the national team, and impressed everyone with his goalscoring ability, his dribbling skills and his hard work.

Pele is Brazil's all-time top goalscorer. The striker departed Santos in 1974 to join New York Cosmos and retired from the game in 1977.

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#4 Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho Gaucho Visits Mineirao Stadium After Being Released from Prison in Paraguay Amidst the Coronavirus (COVID - 19) Pandemic
Ronaldinho Gaucho Visits Mineirao Stadium After Being Released from Prison in Paraguay Amidst the Coronavirus (COVID - 19) Pandemic

Brazil has a penchant for producing technically gifted, creative forwards, and Ronaldinho was no different.

Renowned for his world-class ability on the ball, Ronaldinho was the best player in the world during his time with Barcelona. The Brazil international was technically astute and highly skillful, and made people sit on the edge of their seats whenever he was on the ball.

Ronaldinho won the Ballon d'Or in 2005, and played an important role in the development of Lionel Messi. Ronaldinho's dribbling skills and his style of play brought plenty of joy to football fans all around the world.

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Also Read: 5 best captains in the Premier League this season (2021/22)

#3 Lionel Messi

FC Barcelona v RC Celta - La Liga Santander
FC Barcelona v RC Celta - La Liga Santander

Arguably the greatest player to have played the game, Lionel Messi continues to impress at the top level.

A one-club man, Messi is Barcelona through and through. Since making his debut in 2004, the Argentina international has not looked back, and is now regarded as the club's greatest ever player. A world-class dribbler, creator and goalscorer, Messi has often been the difference between a Barcelona win and a Barcelona loss.

For his country, Messi is the highest appearance-maker as well as the all-time top goalscorer. The 34-year old recently led his country to success at Copa America in 2021, and is now the favorite to win his seventh Ballon d'Or.

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#2 Diego Maradona

Argentina Press Conference - 2010 FIFA World Cup
Argentina Press Conference - 2010 FIFA World Cup

Diego Armando Maradona was a true great of the game.

Destined for greatness from a very young age, there was immense pressure on Maradona to succeed in football. The diminutive forward made the ball talk, with his incredible control and his excellent passing and vision. His low center of gravity helped him dribble past opposition defenses with ease.

Maradona won the World Cup with Argentina in 1986, and enjoyed a great career at the highest level. Off thefield,d though, he was controversy's favorite child. The Argentina international was a complex character, but his genius was such that he is regarded reverentially across the world.

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#1 Garrincha

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The greatest dribbler of all time, Garrincha is seen by many as being better than even Pele.

Garrincha spent nearly his entire club career playing for Botafogo in Brazil. For the national team, the winger was a talismanic presence. A world-class dribbler, Garrincha won the World Cup twice with Brazil, and was the best player at the 1962 FIFA World Cup.

Garrincha won the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball and the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot in 1962. The forward endured a troubled life off the field. However, he is remembered fondly by Brazilian football fans for his fantastic dribbling ability. Garrincha is undoubtedly one of Brazil's all-time greats.


Also Read: Top 5 favourites to win La Liga this season (2021-22)

Edited by Ashwin
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