FIFA Player of the Century

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This article is about FIFA Player of the Century. For FIFA Female Player of the Century, see FIFA Female Player of the Century.
Five years after the award; winners Maradona and Pelé exchange national team shirts.

FIFA Player of the Century was a one-off award created by FIFA to decide the greatest football player of the 20th century. Diego Maradona and Pele were joint winners of the award.[1][2] Maradona won the award based on the Internet poll, while Pelé won the award based on votes from FIFA officials, journalists and coaches.[1][2]


Since 1991, FIFA have had awards for FIFA World Player of the Year and they decided to bring in the new millennium by conducting a public vote to decide the FIFA Player of the Century. This was to be decided by votes on their official website, their official magazine and a grand jury. Maradona won the Internet-based poll by wide margins, garnering 53.6% of the votes against 18.53% for Pelé.[3] Despite the fact that Eusébio, who played football professionally during Pelé's era, placed third in the poll, many observers complained that the Internet nature of the poll would have meant a skewed demographic of younger fans who would have seen Maradona play, but not Pelé. As a result, FIFA decided to add a second poll and appointed a "Football Family" committee composed of football journalists, officials and coaches, who voted Pelé the best player of the century with 72.75% of the vote, thus both were joint winners of the award.[4]

FIFA internet vote[edit]

The results of FIFA's internet Poll were as follows:[5]

Player Nationality Percentage
1 Diego Maradona  Argentina 53.6%
2 Pelé  Brazil 18.53%
3 Eusébio  Portugal 6.21%
4 Roberto Baggio  Italy 5.42%
5 Romário  Brazil 1.69%
6 Marco van Basten  Netherlands 1.57%
7 Ronaldo  Brazil 1.55%
8 Franz Beckenbauer  Germany 1.50%
9 Zinedine Zidane  France 1.34%
10 Rivaldo  Brazil 1.19%
11 Zico  Brazil 1.15%
12 Garrincha  Brazil 1.08%
13 Johan Cruyff  Netherlands 0.87%
14 Alfredo Di Stéfano  Argentina 0.68%
15 Michel Platini  France 0.58%
16 Bobby Charlton  England 0.39%
17 Ferenc Puskás  Hungary 0.37%
18 Lothar Matthäus  Germany 0.37%
19 Lev Yashin  Soviet Union 0.36%
20 George Best  Northern Ireland 0.32%

FIFA Magazine and Grand Jury vote[edit]

This part of the award was decided by the FIFA Magazine readers vote and the FIFA Grand Jury.[5]

Player Nationality Percentage
1 Pelé  Brazil 72.75%
2 Alfredo Di Stéfano  Argentina 9.75%
3 Diego Maradona  Argentina 6.0%
4 Franz Beckenbauer  Germany 2.5%
5 Johan Cruyff  Netherlands 2.0%
George Best  Northern Ireland 2.0%
7 Michel Platini  France 1.0%
Garrincha  Brazil 1.0%
Zico  Brazil 1.0%
Gerd Müller  Germany 1.0%
Roberto Baggio  Italy 1.0%

FIFA Centennial Award[edit]

FIFA Centennial Player and Football Personality.[6]

Winner Nationality
Franz Beckenbauer  Germany
Pelé  Brazil


IFFHS gave out an award decided by votes which was conducted with the participation of journalists and former players (no further details given).[7]

Player Nationality Votes
1 Pelé  Brazil 1705
2 Johan Cruyff  Netherlands 1303
3 Franz Beckenbauer  Germany 1228
4 Alfredo Di Stéfano  Argentina 1215
5 Diego Maradona  Argentina 1214
6 Ferenc Puskás  Hungary 810
7 Michel Platini  France 722
8 Garrincha  Brazil 624
9 Eusébio  Portugal 544
10 Bobby Charlton  England 508