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Ranking the Top 10 Best Dribblers of All Time

Best Dribblers all time
This image is courtesy of Getty Images

In the game of football, all players have to run with the ball at their feet. Thus, this concept got the name dribbling, and over the years, many have mastered the ability to do this in a quick and efficient way and came to be known as dribblers. The dribblers who have performed the best have been named in the list of Top 10 Dribblers mentioned below.

Though most footballers have learned this skill, those who have mastered it are primarily midfielders or attackers. They require dribbling to get pass the opposing defender  and to pass the ball in the opposing territory. By doing so, they would create opportunities for their team and help in keeping the ball under their possession.

Of the many dribblers who had achieved abnormal abilities, some had found a way to make their dribbling unique to the style of play that they used.

Dribblers would also accommodate their style based on the region in which they played in. It could also vary from club to club. Some clubs, like Arsenal and Barcelona, look into possession dribbling than the attacking kind.

In the same way, other clubs like Manchester City and Real Madrid concentrate on attacking dribbling because that suits their playing style. At the same time, Managers who formerly played in games as footballers in their youth would like their teams to follow the patterns he/she learned.

Dribblers, therefore, have a lot of importance in a team, and this list talks about those players who made it their duty to dribble their team into winning laurels and into the hearts of the fans.

Thus, without further ado…

The Top 10 Dribblers of All Time are:

#10. Ronaldinho

Brazilians naturally have a knack for dribbling, and they have invented a unique ability of their own called Samba. Former Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho took on the traditional style and included a couple of tricks into it as well.

Ron has played in the Brazilian national team for fourteen years. Since he entered into the Selecao lineup, he has dribbled his way into many opposition half’s and created many chances. Just in the same way he makes his way up into the list.

RONALDINHO - 19.08.2008 - Bresil / Argentine - 1/2 Finale - Jeux Olympiques Pekin 2008 - (Photo : Philippe Perusseau / Icon Sport via Getty Images)

RONALDINHO – 19.08.2008 – Bresil / Argentine – 1/2 Finale – Jeux Olympiques Pekin 2008 – (Photo : Philippe Perusseau / Icon Sport via Getty Images)

At the national and club level, Ronaldinho recorded 1.4 dribbles and 2.2 key passed per game. These constituted for the way in which the Brazilian made himself useful for his team, even if he did not score or assist.

The Brazilian came to be known for his dribbling skill worldwide, with his trademark ‘rainbow’ while dribbling becoming an aspect unique only to him, many young Brazilians are looking to emulate Dinho’s style into their game. They look up to players like Neymar and Phillipe Coutinho who have achieved this virtue as well.

#9. Garrincha

Known as the ‘little bird’ to his family members and teammates, the Brazilian legend glided across the field and swifted with the ball insanely to disorient the opposition defenders. The Brazilian joined the Selecao in the year 1955, but he had to wait untill the 1958 World Cup to showcase his skills on the international stage.

Alongside Pele, Garrincha became a master of ball controller, and hence he helped his team by creating chances, and he himself scored 9 goals in forty-three appearances for La Canarinha. Garrincha’s ability on the ball could not be replicated by many others, with just Pele overtaking him (which can be constituted for the age gap between the players).

Brazilian star Garrincha who played in the 1958 World Cup Finals in Sweden photographed in a match before the Finals (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Brazilian star Garrincha who played in the 1958 World Cup Finals in Sweden photographed in a match before the Finals (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

‘Little bird’ won two World Cups with Brazil, and the fans of the Selecao said that without Pele or Garrincha, Brazil would still be trophyless.

#8. Rivelino

Rivelino comes in next on this list of Top 10 Dribblers.

It’s a hat-trick of Brazilian, but to be fair they are exquisite in term of dribbling and not many enjoy dribbling as much as Brazilians do.

But, of them Rivelino enjoyed it more as he lived to play the same Samba style that his heroes Pele and Garrincha proudly followed. Thus the signature Samba style led his heroes to win the FIFA World Cup in the year 1958 and 1962 in a dominant fashion.

When he played his first World Cup in the year 1970, ‘Patada Atomica’ had a  great campaign and soon even Pele did not miss Garrincha much as the youngster became more than capable of taking ‘Little bird’s’ mantle. At the World Cup, Rivelino dribbled many times into the opposition half using his infamous elastic dribble. His trademark dribbling skill would make the opposition feel like the ball would go one way while he pushes it back and changes his direction, while moving forward.

#7. George Best

George Best was a part of the Holy Trinity and a replacement for many of the attacking talent whom Manchester United lost in the 1958 Munich air crashBest quickly became destructive for the Red Devils, and his goal-scoring exploits at Old Trafford can be compared to the adventures of medieval heroes.

Manchester United's George Best on the ball (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Manchester United’s George Best on the ball (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

But, other than his goals, the Irishman came to be known for his ball controlling as well. The Belfast native had a knack for shifting the speed of his dribbles and then accelerate when needed. This allowed him to send his opponents the wrong way most of the time and gives him space to pass the ball or score a goal, thus creating his 128 goals and 3 assists.

These runs made by him are pretty similar to the technique of Messi. Both of these players have the ability to hold the ball at their feet as if it has been attached to their feet using Velcro.

#6. Johan Cruyff

Speaking on players who played similar to Messi, Johan Cruyff cannot be left out. The Dutchman had made quite an impact unique to his dribbling skills for the Blaugrana. Though he made more of a name at Barcelona, Cruyff made his dribbling well known during his time at the Amsterdam Arena with Ajax.

With Ajax, he played with the ball close to his feet, and because of that, he never lost possession of the ball often. Thus he recorded 135 goals and 93 assists in his time in the Eredivisie. Barca had seen how the Dutchman played, felt that he would do much better in Spain and brought Cruyff to Camp Nou. Following his arrival at Nou Camp, Cruyff continued to dribble like he had done at his former club, and Barca was  benefited from him a lot.

1974: Johan Cruyff of Holland jumps a tackle from Uli Hoeness of West Germany during the 1974 World Cup Final. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK/ALLSPORT

1974: Johan Cruyff of Holland jumps a tackle from Uli Hoeness of West Germany during the 1974 World Cup Final. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK/ALLSPORT

They won the La Liga title through him, but Ajax had made more use out of the Dutchman as he won the European Cup three times.

Did he win the trophies solely with his dribbling?

No.

However, his dribbling made him untouchable in most games, and that made it hard for the opposition to win games, thus awarding the many wins to his team.

#5. Ronaldo Nazario

Ronaldo Nazario or ‘The Real Ronaldo’ is the next Brazilian on this list, and he belongs to the generation of Ronaldinho. Due to this, he also liked the Samba style that Dinho used a lot in his matches. They both had a difference in their dribbling style, which came to be as such due to Ron playing as a winger and Ronaldo being an outright striker.

Due to his position in the forefront of the Brazilian national team, Real Madrid and Barcelona, he had more dribbling to do. Thus he recorded 354 goals and 89 assists in five hundred and forty-three appearances. This record becomes evidence of the fact stated above.

#4. Pele

Pele became the only other player in the 1958 and 1962 Brazil World who could dribble better than Garrincha. The reason for this falls along the same lines as the reason presented above. Garrincha played on the wings and had more work to do from outside the box, whereas Pele had to confront defenders in the other half for more minutes.

Brazilian footballer Pele playing for Brazil, circa 1958. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Brazilian footballer Pele playing for Brazil, circa 1958. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

The Brazilian legend used his dribbling to make himself unstoppable, and Pele used that to score 77 goals in ninety-two of his international appearances.

Thus the GOAT won the world cup on two occasions continuously and became a dribbler who many international teams feared to face.

#3. Zinedine Zidane

For Zinedine Zidane to be above Pele would be an impossible scenario to visualize. But, the facts state that Zidane has better dribbling capabilities. Zidane played as a central midfielder all his life, so his dribbling should be seen in a bigger and better light than a player who has only played as a central forward his entire life.

Zidane, through his dribbling, recorded 152 goals and 149 assists in seven hundred and thirty-eight appearances overall for club and country.

#2. Diego Maradona

If a nation has to create dribblers better than Brazilians, then Argentina would be that country. Of all the Argentinians, Diego Maradona holds more importance since he won the World Cup, the Golden Ball, and the silver shoe on account of his dribbling. He entered the opposition half on many occasions through his foot skills and registered 5 goals and 5 assists in as many as seven games for the Blaugrana.

Unfortunately, he did not win the Ballon d’Or, and hence his name has not been named in the number one spot.

#1. Lionel Messi

Coincidentally the one who has won the race for best all-time dribbler is none other than Lionel Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or six times. The Ballon d’Or is consistently awarded to the player who plays the best for the team and nation. If that is so, Messi has done more for his club than his nation and deserves the right to call himself the best dribbler ever. Messi has averaged 4.6 dribbles in a game, and that would mean that he has spent more time dribbling than taking his chance at goal.

Despite that, he has recorded 663 goals and 293 assists in seven hundred and ninety-one games for Barcelona.

The Argentine has thus taken the spotlight away from his hero.

With that, the list and this article have come to a conclusion.

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