Top 10 Best Soccer Players of the 1990s

2. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane, or Zizou, is a former French soccer player, and the manager of Real Madrid, as of 2016. He was an attacking midfielder for the French national team, and also played for Bordeaux, Cannes, Real Madrid and Juventus. Zizou is known for being an elegant player with excellent ball control, vision and technique. He was named the best European soccer player over the past 50 years by the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll, and he is often named as one of the greatest players in the history of soccer.


While playing at the club level, Zizou won both the UEFA Champions League and La Liga title with Real Madrid, the Intercontinental Cup, two Serie A league championships and a UEFA Super Cup. He also won the FIFA World Player of the Year three times, and he won the Ballon d’Or one time.


As a member of the French national team, he won the 1998 World Cup, and scored two goals in the final game. This made him a national hero in the country, and he was awarded the Legion d’honneur for this feat. Zizou retired in 2006, and after staying low for a few years, took a position of assistant coach for Real Madrid in the 2013 – 2014 season. After a very successful year, he started coaching the B team, Real Madrid Castilla.


Recently, Zidane saw controversy after supporting Qatar’s bid for the 2022 World Cup. The choice to have the World Cup in the country was already controversial, and fans were surprised that Zizou was such a proponent of the move. He, however, insists that he simply did it to help the spread of soccer into the Middle East.


1. Ronaldo

Not to be confused with Cristiano Ronaldo, the current player, the Brazilian soccer phenomenon Ronaldo is surely in the number one spot of the 1990s, and perhaps of all time. Ronaldo is one of four players to have ever won the FIFA World Player of the Year Award three times, and has won the Balloon d’Or two times.  He was named the “greatest ever” by France Football magazine, and was named as one of the FIFA 100 greatest living players in 2004. Ronaldo became a member of the Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame in 2006, and in 2015, became a member of the Italian Football Hall of Fame.


He was a member of the Brazil national team, and he played for Brazil for almost 100 matches, and scored a total of 62 goals during his time with the team. The only player to score more goals was Pele. At only 17 years old, Ronaldo was part of the Brazilian team that won the 1994 World Cup, and in the 1998 World Cup, he was chosen as the recipient of the Golden Ball.


Though Ronaldo had an illustrious career, it was marred with injuries, and he ended up retiring early in 2011, citing hypothyroidism and pain. Since his retirement, he has worked as a UN Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador, which he does to battle poverty throughout the world. He also served as an ambassador for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Today, Ronaldo is part owner of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, and sports marketing company 9INE, which he runs with Anderson Silva.




The 1990s were certainly an exciting time in the world of soccer, and it laid the groundwork for the excitement and spread of soccer into the United States. The players featured in this list are world class, and they continue to support the sport through coaching, awareness, volunteering and even participating in events in their home countries and throughout the world.


There are players from a number of countries represented on this list, and each player holds a special place in the hearts of their fans. People are passionate about soccer, and this passion comes to the forefront when discussing the best players in the 1990s. Arguably, there are several players who are not on this list who may deserve it one way or the other, but trying to choose just ten is a difficult task. Additionally, many of the players who have been excluded, such as David Beckham and Thierry Henry had more success in the 2000s, than they did in the 1990s.


The players on the list are true superstars in the world of soccer, and they still serve as members of the upper echelon and as influencers of the next great soccer generation.




**Cover photo credit: 360b /