FIFA Player of the Century

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

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  Netherlands1.57%
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

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

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


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