Top 11 greatest dribblers in football history

Dribbling is a bit like custard on chocolate fondant, like salted butter on toast, in short, it adds pleasure to the game.

We are impressed, the defenders are humiliated, and unfortunately, it is often these actions that cause fouls on the attackers who love to dribble so much. With crazy agility and real creativity, some players have marked their era with the many dribbles they offered and their daring style of play.

Who are, according to science, the greatest dribblers of this sport (many are Brazilian, it’s true), you will see that, here, now, right away. This top is classified (more or less) by seniority, like that, no jealousy.

1. “The Wizard of the Dribble”, Stanley Matthews

He is considered one of the first great dribblers in football history. Evolving in the 50s and 60s, his very long career (he was voted best player in the English championship in 1963, at the age of 48) was marked by very innovative feints and dribbling, which earned him many besides his status as a dribbling star.

And you will not say the opposite to the English supporters for whom Stanley Matthews is a true legend.

2. “L’Alegria do Povo” (the joy of the people), Garrincha

Thanks to his acceleration and his ability to stick the ball, Garrincha has often been considered the greatest dribbler of his time. From his real name Manoel Francisco dos Santos, Garrincha was nicknamed so because the “Garrincha” is a small local bird, which prefers to die than to be caught, thus signifying the insatiable and persevering character of the player.

Garrincha suffered from a malformation: his right leg was six centimeters longer than the left, which did not predestine him to be a professional player.

And yet during the trials for the professional club of Botafogo, Garrincha impressed the recruiters with the quality of his dribbling and in particular with his efficiency against the left back of the Brazilian team Nilton Santos, who will say of him: ” He made me dance. I asked that we hire him and put him in the starting team. I never wanted to play against him again.”

The player’s career was launched, and Garrincha will mark the history of his country, especially during the 1962 World Cup, where Brazil won its second league title.

3. The One and Only: Pelé

With 77 goals in 92 games in the Brazilian selection, Pelé is quite simply considered the greatest player of all time. He stood out from the others in his ease and his ability to keep the ball close to him, in all circumstances. With great speed and precision, Pelé easily managed to dribble past 3 defenders who blocked his way.

His exceptionally fluid game has also led him to win the World Cup 3 times, including the first, at only 17 years old.

4. Manchester United idol: George Best

His technique marked the history of English football and he is also a legend of the Manchester United club with which he won two championships and a Champions League in 1968, the year in which he also won the prestigious Golden Ball title. .

Appreciated for his dribbling game, he is recognized as one of the best wingers of his time.

5. Johan Cruyff, Dutch pride

A great player for Ajax Amsterdam and FC Barcelona Cruyff had great stamina and was an outstanding pretender.

He knew how to confuse his opponent with sudden changes of direction, and he would become a true legend for the Dutch at the 1974 World Cup, when he contributed greatly to victories in matches against Brazil and Argentina.

6. El pibe de oro: Maradona

We no longer present him to you, Maradona is one of the unconditional legends of football with Pelé.

And he owes this title in part thanks to his dribbling and his feints which allowed him to score many goals throughout his career. With a very mastered technique, a provocative game and unstoppable offensives, Maradona notably marked the spirits during the 1986 World Cup, won by Argentina, in the quarter-final against England, where the Argentine managed to eliminate all the English defenders to finally score one of the best goals of his career.

7. Zinédine Zidane, our national Zizou

Very decisive in all the teams where he played, Zidane was of course an exceptional playmaker for the France team.

Still considered today as one of the best player in the history of football and probably the best French player with Platini (and maybe now Mbappé??), Zizou’s game was particularly distinguished by its fluidity and his stepovers mastered to perfection. He too had a great ability to keep the ball close to him, performing long ball drives while dribbling his opponents, he clearly had an infallible control of the ball, which well earned him his place in this top.

8. Brazilian legend, Ronaldo

62 goals in 98 caps in Brazil, R9 as he is called, was a little less inventive than his compatriot Ronaldinho, but he was more of a scorer and he was obviously also a very good dribbler. Passing by AC Milan or Real Madrid, R9 also knew how to lay down most European defenders, having a very technical and efficient style of play, and an almost provocative ease with both feet. He was also known and feared for his ability to evolve in very closed spaces. Very comfortable with the game of heading, Ronaldo was surely one of the most complete and formidable players that football has known.

9. The very creative Ronaldinho

Comma, blind pass, small bridge… Ronaldinho even invented a dribble which now bears his name “the elastico Ronaldinho”.

Little Ronie was a football genius, a real samba dancer on the field (I’m not just saying that to laugh, he’s really passionate about samba and you could almost think that some dribbles are inspired by it). Ronaldinho is rightly considered one of the greatest players of all time, one of the most inventive, one of the most daring. His game was marked by his unpredictability, his speed and his stepovers and that is why the dancer Ronie marked the history of this sport.

10. The great Messi

Leo Messi is one of the most effective dribblers in Europe (at least that was the case in the 2019/2020 season…) with around 60% of successful dribbles.

If his dribbles are not all necessarily out of the ordinary, they are all successful, well done and effective. Everyone recognizes Messi as a very technical and precise player, his ability to keep the ball close to his body and to change direction explosively characterize his style of play.

In short, it has its place in this top, even if we already knew it.

11. And without forgetting: Neymar

Of course Neymar is a great dribbler who annoys defenders, and that’s also often why we make mistakes on him.

Neymar has the typical Brazilian style: he performs daring and complicated dribbles in the middle of a match such as the “rainbow flick”, the stepovers or the “sombreros”.

Neymar may not always be unanimous for his attitude, but everyone agrees on how impressive this player’s technique is.

12. Bonus: Mbappé, because he still deserves his place

As you will have noticed, in this top there are few contemporary players, because you have to leave time to time, and a legend is built over several years.

And in your opinion, the greatest players of our days have taken their cue from? And yes, about the legends of football that I have just mentioned to you.

But in the best dribblers, it seemed unfair not to mention Mbappé, even if he is still very young. Recognized for his incredible speed and his great technicality, Mbappé has all the qualities of a great dribbler, and if he is still a little less daring than a Ronaldinho for example, he knew how to prove that he was one of the great dribblers. of this sport.

13. Bonus Bonuses: Augustine Jay Jay Okocha and Abedi Pelé

Another bonus ok, because I’m talking about players a little less known to the general public. We rarely mention African players because their selections are not yet at the level of the big European or South American teams, and we are very wrong.

Jay Jay Okocha was an ultra-technical player, considered the best dribbler in Africa. The Nigerian, a former player at PSG will also have been the pride of the Nigerian selection of the 90s.

Abedi Pelé, great legend of Olympique de Marseille, was also endowed with an extraordinary technique. He largely participated in the consecration of the club in the Champions League in 1993, and he is also considered one of the best players in African football. The Ghanaian striker has shone throughout his career by his ability to dribble his opponents with great ease.

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