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Top 40 greatest footballers: George Best outside top three as Bale, Rooney and Salah all make the cut



George Best in action for Northern Ireland

George Best in action for Northern Ireland

George Best in action for Northern Ireland

George Best has been ranked as the fourth greatest footballer of all time by a new poll to discover the top 40 players in the history of the game.

As part of TV channel HISTORY's History of Football season, votes were cast to rank the best footballers ever to grace a pitch.

Pelé, acceptably, was ranked number one ahead of modern football's outstanding duo Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Then came our very own George Best, who was the highest ranking British player thanks to his 179 goals in 470 appearances for Manchester United and nine goals in 37 Northern Ireland caps. He came in ahead of fifth-placed Diego Maradona.

It's on down the list that the questionable calls come in. Former Manchester United and Real Madrid right-winger David Beckham has been voted the ninth best player of all time, one place ahead of current Real boss Zinedine Zidane.

The Brazilian Ronaldo is down in 19th spot, behind the likes of Gary Lineker and one place ahead of Steven Gerrard.

Also making it onto the list are Wayne Rooney (25th), Michael Owen (27th), Mohamed Salah (32nd), Gareth Bale (35th) and Kevin De Bruyne (39th).

Two goalkeepers make the list in the form of legendary Soviet Union stopper Lev Yashin (34th) and Gianluigi Buffon (40th). Scroll down for the full list.

Top ranking Pele won three World Cup titles with Brazil and scored an incredible 727 goals during his glittering 21 year career, including 77 for Brazil in 92 appearances.

Widely regarded as football’s first superstar, he is still the youngest player ever to appear in a World Cup final featuring in the culmination of the 1958 tournament aged just 17.

He made his domestic debut at 16 years old for Santos FC and remained there until 1975, when he moved to New York Cosmos amid much fanfare for the final two years of his career.

Carried out through OnePoll, the research also identified the greatest manager of all-time as Sir Alex Ferguson CBE, who finished ahead of Brian Clough OBE and Bill Shankly OBE.

The greatest moment in England’s football history was revealed too and unsurprisingly it is the 1966 World Cup win. The Three Lions' second greatest ever moment is the 5-1 win over Germany in 2001, while their third is Paul Gascoigne's wondergoal against Scotland at Euro 96.

The History of Football season runs from 28 May to 10 June.


1. Pelé

2. Lionel Messi

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

4. George Best

5. Diego Maradona

6. Bobby Moore OBE

7. Johan Cruyff

8. Sir Bobby Charlton CBE

9. David Beckham OBE

10. Zinedine Zidane

11. Thierry Henry

12. Franz Beckenbauer

13. Eusébio

14. Kenny Dalglish MBE

15. Ronaldinho

16. Ryan Giggs OBE

17. Gary Lineker OBE

18. Paul Gascoigne

19. Ronaldo

20. Steven Gerrard MBE

21. Denis Law CBE

22. Dennis Bergkamp

23. Alfredo Di Stéfano

24. Ferenc Puskás

25. Wayne Rooney

26. Sir Tom Finney CBE

27. Michael Owen

28. Michel Platini

29. Jürgen Klinsmann

30. Lothar Matthäus

31. Marco van Basten

32. Mohamed Salah

33. Bryan Robson OBE

34. Lev Yashin

35. Gareth Bale

36. Zlatan Ibrahimović

37. Franco Baresi

38. Xavi

39. Kevin De Bruyne

40. Gianluigi Buffon

Belfast Telegraph