Monday, 22 Jul 2024

The Best Midfielders of All Time

Midfielders are often considered the heartbeat of a team, controlling the game from the central areas of the pitch. They possess a unique set of skills and are responsible for dictating the tempo of a match. In this article, we will explore the role of midfielders in soccer and highlight some of the greatest players to have graced this position.

What is a Midfielder in Soccer?

The midfielder role in soccer encompasses a wide range of positions, each with its own specific tasks and responsibilities. While wide midfielders or wingers tend to focus on the flanks, our emphasis here will be on central midfielders. These players link defense with attack, picking up the ball, building possession, launching attacks, and supporting forwards in dangerous areas. Additionally, they contribute defensively by marking opponents, tackling, intercepting, and breaking up play.

Key Skills of a Midfielder in Soccer

To excel in the midfield role, players need a diverse skill set. Let’s explore some of the essential skills that define a successful midfielder:

Passing Range

Passing is the backbone of midfield play. Midfielders must consistently complete simple passes to maintain possession. However, they should also possess a wide range of passes, including long-range switches, driven through-balls, and curled crossfield passes, to unlock defenses and create scoring opportunities.


Dribbling allows midfielders to maneuver through tight spaces and evade opposing defenders. Mastering ball control, maintaining a low center of gravity, and using their bodies as shields are crucial aspects of successful dribbling.

Technical Ability

Midfielders operate in crowded areas of the pitch, requiring exceptional technical ball skills. They must be able to receive, control, and distribute the ball under pressure from opponents, ensuring efficient and accurate passing.

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Tackling and Interceptions

While defensive-minded players naturally focus more on tackling and interceptions, even creative midfielders must possess these defensive skills. Successful tackles and interceptions stop opposing attacks, providing the foundation for launching counterattacks.

Creative Vision

Midfielders serve as the chief creative force on the field, unlocking opposition defenses with their passing range and vision. Identifying the right pass or making clever runs to create scoring opportunities is vital for success in midfield.

The 11 Best Midfielders of All Time

Now let’s explore some of the greatest midfielders to have ever played the game. While some of these players may have been deployed in different positions throughout their careers, they excelled when operating in central midfield roles.

Sir Bobby Charlton

Sir Bobby Charlton, a versatile player who often played as a center-forward, was at his prime when operating in a creative midfield role. His ferocious shooting, sublime dribbling skills, and quiet leadership were instrumental in England’s historic 1966 World Cup victory.

Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo, renowned for his role as a deep-lying playmaker known as a regista, epitomized the art of midfield creativity. His exceptional passing range and ability to dictate play made him a vital player for clubs like Milan, Juventus, and the Italian national team.

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane, an attacking midfielder known for his elegant style of play, showcased dazzling ball skills, remarkable first touch, and exceptional passing ability throughout his illustrious career. He was a key figure in Real Madrid’s success and won a World Cup with France.

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Brazilian legend Rivellino, part of the famous 1970 World Cup-winning team, possessed attacking talent that thrilled fans worldwide. With a powerful shot, precise passing, and extravagant ball skills, Rivellino left spectators in awe with his contributions on the field.

Lothar Matthäus

Lothar Matthäus, widely regarded as one of Germany’s best-ever midfielders, captained his country to victory in the 1990 World Cup. Known for his tactical intelligence, passing skills, and leadership qualities, Matthäus left an indelible mark on the game.


Xavi, a key protagonist in Spain’s dominance during the late 2000s and early 2010s, played a pivotal role in their possession-based style of play. With his exceptional passing, creative vision, and precise control, Xavi helped revolutionize international football.

Michel Platini

Michel Platini, despite a controversial administrative role in football, was an iconic attacking midfielder in his playing days. His exceptional goal-scoring ability, precise passing, and set-piece expertise earned him numerous accolades, including three consecutive Ballon d’Or awards.

Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira, a Premier League legend, combined physicality, technical ability, and elegance in midfield. Known for his grace on the ball, Vieira played a vital role in Arsenal’s famous “Invincibles” season and showcased his talents at both club and international level.

Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta, alongside Xavi, formed a formidable partnership in the heart of Barcelona’s midfield. Gifted with sublime dribbling skills, intelligent movement, and precise passing, Iniesta played a significant role in the club’s success, winning numerous trophies throughout his career.

Sir Stanley Matthews

Stanley Matthews, a legendary figure in English football, dazzled fans with his performances as a wide midfielder. With remarkable longevity and skill, Matthews captured the hearts of spectators with his technical ability, earning him numerous awards and accolades.


Zico, the star of the 1982 Brazil team, is widely regarded as one of the game’s greats. His skill, goal-scoring ability, and dribbling prowess made him an exciting player to watch. Zico’s contributions for both club and country solidified his status as an iconic midfielder.

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In conclusion, these midfielders have left an indelible mark on the beautiful game, showcasing their exceptional skills and leaving fans in awe. Their contributions on the field have changed the way the midfield role is perceived and will continue to inspire future generations of players.


Q: What is a midfielder in soccer?

A: Midfielders are central elements of a team, responsible for connecting defense with attack. They pick up the ball, build possession, launch attacks, and support forwards in threatening areas. They also contribute defensively through tasks like marking, tackling, and intercepting.

Q: What are the key skills of a midfielder in soccer?

A: Key skills of a midfielder include passing range, dribbling ability, technical ball skills, tackling and interceptions, and creative vision.

Q: Who are the best midfielders of all time?

A: Some of the best midfielders of all time include Sir Bobby Charlton, Andrea Pirlo, Zinedine Zidane, Rivellino, Lothar Matthäus, Xavi, Michel Platini, Patrick Vieira, Andres Iniesta, Sir Stanley Matthews, and Zico.


Midfielders are the heartbeat of a team, controlling the game from the central areas of the pitch. With their passing range, dribbling skills, technical ability, tackles, interceptions, and creative vision, they are essential to a team’s success. Players like Sir Bobby Charlton, Andrea Pirlo, and Zinedine Zidane have left an indelible mark on the game, showcasing their exceptional talents. The midfielders mentioned in this article have inspired fans and transformed the way the position is played.