Top 10 best Spanish footballers of all time

This article enumerates the ten greatest Spanish soccer players of all time, including legendary characters who knew how to utilise the green.

Animated representation of female and male footballers in Spain colours

Who are the greatest Spanish footballers in history? Spain, the birthplace of great soccer players with a style of play that is as colourful as it is distinctive, has produced some of the best and most technically proficient football players in the history of the sport.

La Roja transformed from being the "Fury" to a legitimate symphony orchestra, mostly as a result of its accomplishments in the new millennium, when it was able to shed its bitter experiences in international contests.

The Spanish national team have been stunning the world with a beautiful and equally effective style that propelled them to the pinnacle of European and global football.

However, not all of the recent stars of the Spanish National Team and La Liga are included in this list of best Spanish footballers of all time.

Included in the top 10 greatest Spanish soccer players in history must be mythological players who understood how to exploit the green, such as Luis Suárez Miramontes, the only Spaniard to win the Ballon d'Or.

In addition, it should be remembered that Spain has had one of the strongest leagues in the world for many years, and that renowned players from different periods have contributed to it, such as Emilio Butragueo, who tried, but failed to replicate his success with the national team.

Despite h not being a Spanish player, Cristiano Ronaldo is a Spanish football legend; check to see whether he enters our list of the best Portuguese footballers of all time.

However, here are the best Spanish footballers of all time:

  1. Andres Iniesta
  2. Xavi Hernandez
  3. Iker Casillas
  4. Raúl Gonzalez
  5. Sergio Ramos
  6. David Villa
  7. Luis Suárez Miramontes
  8. Emilio Butragueño
  9. Francisco Gento
  10. Carles Puyol

10. Carles Puyol

/Photograph by Christopher Johnson, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Who are the greatest Spanish footballers in history? Spain, the birthplace of great soccer players with a style of play that is as colourful as it is distinctive, has produced some of the best and most technically proficient football players in the history of the sport.

La Roja transformed from being the "Fury" to a legitimate symphony orchestra, mostly as a result of its accomplishments in the new millennium, when it was able to shed its bitter experiences in international contests.

The Spanish national team have been stunning the world with a beautiful and equally effective style that propelled them to the pinnacle of European and global football.

However, not all of the recent stars of the Spanish National Team and La Liga are included in this list of best Spanish footballers of all time.

Included in the top 10 greatest Spanish soccer players in history must be mythological players who understood how to exploit the green, such as Luis Suárez Miramontes, the only Spaniard to win the Ballon d'Or.

In addition, it should be remembered that Spain has had one of the strongest leagues in the world for many years, and that renowned players from different periods have contributed to it, such as Emilio Butragueo, who tried, but failed to replicate his success with the national team.

Despite h not being a Spanish player, Cristiano Ronaldo is a Spanish football legend; check to see whether he enters our list of the best Portuguese footballers of all time.

However, here are the best Spanish footballers of all time:

Carles Puyol, who valiantly guarded FC Barcelona's colours from the early 2000s until his retirement, is one of the most famous members of the "One club" contingent.

He started his career as a right-back before becoming one of the top center-backs in Spanish and European football.

Puyol was named the UEFA defender of the year in 2006 and was selected three times to the FIFA Best XI (2007, 2008 and 2009). Even though he was not the most technically skilled player, "Puyi" displayed equal parts tenacity, fair play, and commitment, on his way to winning all possible trophies with Barcelona and the Spanish national team.

In 2009, while playing for Barcelona, he captained one of the greatest Blaugrana squads in history, donning the captain's armband.

He won 21 medals with Barcelona, including three Champions League titles (2006, 2009 and 2011). As a member of the Spanish National Team, he was instrumental in winning Euro 2008 and the World Cup in 2010, solidifying his position as one of the best Spanish players of all time.

9. Francisco Gento

Paco Gento played for Real Madrid for 18 seasons, during which he was a member of one of the greatest teams in history: Di Stefano's Madrid or the "Five European Cups" Madrid.

The most astounding achievement is that Gento won six "Orejonas" instead of only five. In addition, he participated in eight finals, the same number as the Italian Paolo Maldini, tying him for the most finals appearances in this championship.

Gento is regarded as not just one of the best Spanish footballer of all time, but also one of the greatest left wingers who valued pace and had a propensity for scoring goals.

He was a part of the Spanish National Team that won the first Eurocup in 1964. He wore the "La Roja" shirt a total of 43 times.

Gento completed his incredible record by winning 12 Spanish leagues with the Whites, for whom he was a pure winger. 

8. Emilio Butragueño

/Photograph by World Travel & Tourism Council, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

"El Buitre" is one of the greatest talents ever created by Spain. Emerging from the Real Madrid factory, he made his debut with the "merengue" club before achieving legendary status.

He served at the "White House" from 1983 to 1995 and was the spirit of the "Quinta del Buitre," one of the Madrid casts that defined an epoch in the institution's history in the late 1980s. Butragueno won five straight league titles, two UEFA Cups in 1985 and 1986, and scored 171 goals throughout his career.

Emilio's inclusion on this list of the best Spanish players is not based just on his accomplishments with Real Madrid, but also on his contributions to the Spanish national team.

With the "Red Fury," he participated in the 1984 Euro Cup final and was one of World Cup heroes in Mexico 1986.

His four-goal performance against Denmark in the quarterfinals is memorable and immortalises him as one of the best Spanish center forwards ever. 

The attacker scored 26 goals in 69 appearances for Spain, won the Pichichi in 1981 and the Bronze Ball in 1986 as well as 1987. 

7. Luis Suárez Miramontes

Miramontes is the first and only Spanish footballer in history to win the Ballon d'Or, a reason he stands seventh on this list of the greatest Spanish players of all time.

He achieved this in 1960, when he defended the colours of the Barcelona Football Club, before going on to win the Silver Ball again in 1961 and 1964.

In addition, he finished third in the 1965 France Football classification. As evidence of his excellence, Luis Suárez was nominated for the prize in eight consecutive seasons between 1958 and 1965.

As an inside left winger, he was known as the "Architect" and played for Deportivo La Corunna, Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Sampdoria.

He earned 32 caps with the Spanish National Team, scoring 13 goals, and won the 1964 Euro Cup.

After winning the Ballon d'Or, he joined Inter Milan, where he won two European Cups, three Scudettos, and two Intercontinental Cups (1964 and 1965).

Together with Jess Mara Pereda, he was the first player to reach the European Cup and the European Championship in the same year (1964).

6. David Villa

David Villa is the greatest Spanish striker in history, at least according to the statistics. Nobody scored more goals wearing the Spanish flag than "El Guaje" Villa. In all, he scored 59 goals in 98 matches, winning Euro 2008 and the World Cup in 2010

Since his departure from the national team in 2017, the "Fury" has failed to find a reliable centre forward successor. Morata, Aspas, and Gerard Moreno have all been unable to perform as well as the Spanish player.

Villa, who retired in 2019, was a traditional second striker with outstanding mobility and excellent finishing, making him one of the best Spanish soccer players in history.

Not only did he achieve success with Spain, but Real Sporting de Gijón, Real Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona, and Atlético Madrid also enjoyed his clinicality on Iberian soil, on his way to earning four Zarra Trophies as La Liga's top Spanish scorer.

Abroad, the three foreign teams he played for were Melbourne City, New York City, and Vissel Kobe.

5. Sergio Ramos

/Photograph by Кирилл Венедиктов, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Sergio Ramos, in his late 30s and still performing at an elite level in football, is already regarded as one of the greatest defenders in football history.

Numerous experts, commentators, and spectators place him on par with Beckenbauer, Baresi, Maldini, and Passarella. Similar to Carles Puyol, he started his career as a right-back for Sevilla before consolidating his place at Real Madrid and becoming a genuine defensive maestro.

Without venturing too far, he helped Spain win Euro 2008 and the World Cup in 2010 as the starting right back under Luis Aragonés and Vicente del Bosque, respectively.

Ramos is a thoroughbred who often emerges when he is needed the most. He was crucial to Real Madrid's "La Décima" European Cup success, scoring a goal in the final against local rival Atlético de Madrid to put his club on the verge of victory.

With the victory in Lisbon, Madrid broke a 12-year drought in the Champions League and went on to win a record-setting three straight UCLs.

Recently, he was named to the third historic Dream Team of the Ballon d'Or, and UEFA ranked him among the 10 best defenders in the history of the sport.

In addition to his attitude, background leadership, and outstanding footwork, it is certain that Ramos is the best goal-scoring center-back in history.

He has scored 100 goals for Real Madrid and 23 for Spain's national team. A legendary Spanish footballer.

4. Raúl González

/Photograph by DerHans04, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Raul Gonzalez was Real Madrid's all-time leading scorer with 323 goals in 741 appearances and the Spanish National Team's all-time leading scorer with 44 goals in 102 games until the emergence of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Villa, respectively.

He is currently ranked third among the all-time scorers in the UEFA Champions League, behind the aliens CR7 and Messi. With 71 goals, he could be considered the top "human" scorer in the European Champions League.

He has won this competition three times, in 1998, 2000, and 2002, scoring in the two latter finals, making him not only one of the best Spanish players, but also one of the best in European history.

It was said that Raul was a very complete striker, one of the best of his generation and Spain's best ever centre forward, but that he failed to stand out in any particular area. Raul did not have a perfect score, but received an 80 in all areas. 

A gentleman of the game who knew how to be great at Real Madrid from an early age and for many years before moving on to play for Schalke 04, Al Sadd, and New York Cosmos in Germany, Qatar, and the United States, respectively.

As one of the greatest Spanish footballers ever, he participated in three World Cups and two European Championships with Spain.

In 2001, Raul was poised to succeed Luis Suárez Miramontes as the second Spanish footballer to win the Ballon d'Or, but he finished second in the voting, behind Michael Owen of England.

Nonetheless, he won numerous individual awards, including the La Liga Pichichi Trophy twice.

The much revered Guardiola once said of him, "He is the best player in the history of Spain."

3. Íker Casillas

/Photograph by Дмитрий Неймырокm, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Iker Casillas was dubbed the "Ghost of Zamora" for many years after emulating the legacy of the legendary Spanish goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora, in whose honour the Zamora trophy was founded since the 1959 Spanish League season.

Casillas was the player with the most appearances in the UEFA Champions League for a long time, with 177 games, until he was recently eclipsed by Cristiano Ronaldo, the best Portuguese player of all time.

Moreover, with 167 games played for the Spanish National Team, he is second only to Sergio Ramos on the list of players with the most appearances.

Casillas was a member of the national team from 2000 to 2016, and he led the 2008 and 2012 European conquests as well as the 2010 World Cup.

With the exception of Gigi Buffon, Casillas is one of the best goalkeepers in history and the best of his era, based on his consistency and amazing statistics.

His anthological paradons will go on forever, and he will always be known as one of the best Spanish players in history.

He amassed colourful and regular headlines while playing for Real Madrid. When he replaced César in the UCL final against Bayer Leverkusen in Glasgow, his performances were perhaps the most noteworthy. Or those two improbable stops against Arjen Robben that helped Spain win their first-ever World Cup.

2. Xavi Hernández

Photograph by Günther Simmermacher

Xavi, a footballer who is as unique as the pine tree's crown, and a midfielder upon whom a possession-based style of play can be built, is every coach's dream.

His passes were infallible, and he was intelligent within the reach of few and cerebral at his best, enabling him to withstand the onslaught of opponents and improve his teammates' abilities.

Elegant and spartan, he distinguished himself despite his lack of physique in the middle.

His early years at FC Barcelona were somewhat erratic due to club turmoil, but when Josep Guardiola arrived, he understood the manager's tactics like no one else, thereby elevating his performance to the power of infinity.

His poetic brilliance with the ball extended to the Spanish National Team, where Luis Aragonés decided to hand him the "keys to the team," and from that point on, his legend only grew.

Since then, Xavi Hernández, the Most Valuable Player of Euro 2008, the tournament that changed the recent history of Spain, has not been remembered for poor performances and is now regarded as one of the best Spanish footballers of all time.

He was in the World Cup's Best Eleven and won the IFFHS World's Best Playmaker Award four years in a row between 2008 and 2011.

Xavi, still hungry for more accolades, was selected to the FIFA Best XI as many as six times. He won the Bronze Ball three times (2009, 2010, and 2011) and was included by France Football in their team A of legends, forming a dream midfield alongside the German Lothar Matthaus.

1. Andrés Iniesta

photograph by Meghdad Madadi, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Throughout his whole career, Iniesta's level was very similar to that of Xavi Hernández, since the magnificence of one cannot be comprehended without the other.

With all due respect to the Kroos-Modric combo of Real Madrid, Xavi-Iniesta formed one of the greatest duos in the history of modern football, and probably the best in the centre of the field. For some, Xavi has been superior, while others prefer Iniesta.

In addition to being an intelligent player, Iniesta has a superior ability to shift rhythm, dribble, and enter the opponent's penalty area with remarkable ease.

As a result, he was able to deliver Spain the 2010 World Cup with a goal oozing with magnificence and steeped in excellence. Andrés Iniesta is the greatest Spanish footballer of all time, despite the fact that many may disagree.

Legends like Zinedine Zidane and Juan Román Riquelme have praised Iniesta's extraordinary skill, control, and field moves.

'El Ilusionista', who is still active in football in Japan, was able to win everything with Barcelona and the Spanish national team. Due to his on-field prowess and off-field humility, he garnered the affection of millions of admirers.

In 674 official appearances with FC Barcelona, he scored 57 goals and provided 139 assists, establishing himself as one of the club's most influential players.

Together with Xavi Hernández and Lionel Messi, he created a remarkable trio of homegrown players that won the 2010 Ballon d'Or, with Iniesta finishing second.

Similarly to Luis Suárez Miramontes, he was nominated for the Ballon d'Or up to eight times and was a member of FIFA's Best XI nine times (from 2009 to 2017), demonstrating an exceptional command of the game. 

Having won 32 trophies with FC Barcelona since his debut in 2002, Iniesta, the "Genius of Fuentealbilla," is the best  player in the history of Spanish football