Over the years there have been two continents that have dominated soccer, these being Europe and South America. These have produced some of the greatest soccer stars in the history of the game with South American countries having their fair share of these. The two biggest soccer nations in South America are Argentina and Brazil and when looking for some of the best South American players these are typically the countries to look to. Some of the best ever players from these countries include the following.
When looking for the best soccer player in the world, never mind South America, Pele is one of the first names that spring to mind. He is the only player in the history of the game to have won three World Cup winner medals and his fame has spread all around the world. Whether a soccer fan or not, most people recognize the name Pele and can tell you who he is. Pele came to prominence at a young age and won his first World Cup medal in 1958 when he was only 17 years old. From this fantastic start he went on the have an amazing career and is one of the best strikers the world has ever known. He is one of the few players to have scored more than 1,000 goals during his career and as well as World Cup success in 1958 he also helped Brazil claim the trophy in 1962 and 1970. He played most of his club soccer for Santos in Brazil although had a short spell playing for the New York Cosmos towards the latter part of his career. However it is for his World Cup exploits that he is best remembered and these make him a candidate for the title of best player in the history of the game.
Maradona is probably the South American player that rivals Pele for the title of best ever. Like Pele he started his professional career at an early age when he joined Argentinos Juniors at only 15 years old. The most successful part of his club career came when he played for Napoli in Italy. He helped them to win a number of trophies including the Italian league twice, the Italian cups once each and the UEFA Cup. However Maradona had a burning ambition to win the World Cup from a very young age and, again like Pele, this is probably what he is best remembered for. He played in four World Cup tournaments, achieving his childhood ambition when as captain of Argentina he picked up the World Cup trophy in 1986. He also played in the 1990 final although Argentina lost out to Germany on that occasion. Maradona was probably one of the most skillful players ever and at the height of his powers his ball control and dribbling were a joy to watch. However he could also be a controversial figure and failed doping tests on a couple of occasions earning him bans. However it is for his soccer skills that he will be remembered and he will go down as one of the best ever.
Zico is another of the great Brazilian stars that have graced the game over the years. In the early 1980’s he was probably the best soccer star playing and is considered by many to rival Pele for the title of best Brazilian player ever. He was a fantastic dribbler of the ball and could go past defenders at will. He also possessed a fantastic shot and is generally thought of as one of the best free kick specialists the game has ever seen. He played the majority of his club career in Brazil although did have a spell in Italy. For the Brazil national team he scored 52 goals in 72 games, demonstrating he goal scoring ability. While he played in three World Cup tournaments Zico was never to taste cup winning success. However he will be remembered as one of the best Brazilian players ever.
Batistuta or Batigol as he came to be nicknamed is one of the best Argentinean strikers to have played soccer. During his international career he played 78 times for Argentina and scored 56 goals. This makes him the leading all-time goal scorer for his country and his goal scoring ability was just as adept at club level. He played most of his career at Fiorentina in Italy and was regularly one of the top goal scorers in the league. He helped Fiorentina win a couple of trophies during his time there although his best achievement came when he moved to Roma in 2001 when he scored 20 goals to help them win the Italian league. In all, he scored 184 goals in 318 matches during his time in Italy making him one of the top scorers ever in Italian soccer. He played in three World Cup tournaments without success, although Batigol will be remembered as one of the best ever Argentinean strikers.
Ronaldo was one of the best strikers that Brazil ever produced and he had much success during his career for both club and country. He was part of the Brazil squad for four World Cups and during this he scored 15 goals making him the leading scorer in World Cup history. Although part of the 1994 Brazil World Cup squad he did not feature in any of the games as Brazil won the trophy. However he was a regular in the team for the 1998 World Cup when Brazil again reached the final although they were to lose out in this to the host nation France. However Ronaldo finally achieved World Cup success in 2002 when Brazil won the trophy. Ronaldo was a big part of this success and his 8 goals, including two in the final, fired Brazil to glory. He was just as successful in his club career where he played for some of the biggest teams in the world, winning trophies at all but one of the clubs he played for.
South America regularly produces soccer players of immense talent and over the years some of the best players in the world have come from this continent. The five named above are considered some of the best ever and were players that any club would have loved to have in their team when they were playing.