10 Best Spanish players of all time

Among the 10 best Spanish footballers in history must be included mythical figures who knew how to utilize the green, such as Luis Suárez Miramontes, the only Spanish Ballon d’Or wiki winner in history. 

Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Fernando Torres, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta line up for the Spanish national team

Who are best Spanish players in history? Spain, the cradle of great footballers and a style of play that is as colorful as it is characteristic, can boast of having some of the best and most technical footballers in the history of football. 

Above all, because of what was achieved in the new Millennium, when it managed to shed its bitter drinks in international competitions, La Roja went from being the “Fury” to a true symphony orchestra.

The Spanish national team amazed the entire planet with a style as attractive and equally as effective that took it to the top at European and World level.

However, not all the stars of the Spanish National Team and La Liga in recent times make up this ranking.

Among the 10 best Spanish footballers in history must be included mythical figures who knew how to utilize the green, such as Luis Suárez Miramontes, the only Spanish Ballon d’Or winner in history. 

In addition, it should be borne in mind that Spain has had one of the best leagues in the world for many years and notable footballers from other eras have contributed to it who, perhaps, did not know how to have luck with the National Team, as in the case of Emilio Butragueño.

There's also Cristiano Ronaldo, who although not a Spanish player is a Spanish football great. You can see if he makes it into our list of best Portuguese football players of all time. 

10 Best Spanish players 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

He is one of the most emblematic representatives of the “One club man” contingency. Carles Puyol defended the colors of FC Barcelona with gallantry and pride from the early 2000s until retirement. 

He began his career as a right-back before later establishing himself as one of the best center-backs in Spanish football and Europe. 

Puyol was chosen as the UEFA defender of the year in 2006 and was part of the FIFA Best XI on three occasions (2007, 2008 and 2009). 

Without being the most technically gifted, “Puyi” offered grit, fair play and dedication in equal measure.

As for collective titles, “Tarzán” Puyol won everything with Barcelona and with the Spanish National Team. 

With the Barça team, he commanded one of the best Blaugrana teams in history, wearing the captain’s armband in that historic sextet of 2009. 

In total, he won 21 medals with Barça, including three Champions League (2006, 2009 and 2011). With the Spanish National Team, he was fundamental in the conquests of Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, cementing his status as one of the best Spanish players ever. 

9. Francisco Gento

Francisco Gento, better known as “Paco” Gento, played 18 seasons for Real Madrid. During that time, he was part of one of the best teams in history: Di Stefano’s Madrid or the “Five European Cups” Madrid. 

The most impressive accolade is that Gento did not stay in five, since he won six “Orejonas”. With this fact, he became the record player in this competition in terms of titles and, in addition, he played 8 finals, in line with the Italian Paolo Maldini.

Gento is considered not just of the best Spanish players, but one of the best left wingers in history. The Spaniard treasured speed and had a knack for scoring goals. 

He was a member of the Spanish National Team that won the 1964 Eurocup, the first in its history. In total, he donned the “La Roja” jersey 43 times.

Always glued to the line, Gento completed his extraordinary record by winning 12 Spanish leagues with the white box.

8. Emilio Butragueño

El Buitre” is one of the best talents that Spain has ever produced. Emerging from the Real Madrid quarry, he managed to make his debut at the “merengue” club before eventually becoming a legend. 

He was in the “White House” from 1983 to 1995 and was the soul of the “Quinta del Buitre”, one of the casts of Madrid that marked an era in the history of the institution at the end of the 1980s. Butragueño won five consecutive leagues, two UEFA Cups (1985 and 1986) and scored 171 goals.

But Emilio is not in this count of best Spanish footballers only because of his production with the Real Madrid shirt, but also because of what he did with the Spanish National Team. 

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

His four-goal haul against Denmark is remembered in the quarter final of that contest. The forward scored 26 goals in 69 appearances for Spain, won the Pichichi in 1981 and Bronze Ball in 1986 as well as 1987.

7. Luis Suárez Miramontes

Miramontes'' greatest merit for being in this high-flying ranking of best Spanish footballers is that he became the first and only Spanish footballer in history to win a Ballon d’Or to date. 

It happened in 1960, when he defended the colors of the Barcelona Football Club, where he would also win the Silver Ball in 1961 and 1964. 

In addition, he was third in the France Football designation a year later (1965). To buttress his greatness, Luis Suárez was in fact nominated in eight consecutive seasons for the award (1958-1965). 

Playing as an inside left, he was nicknamed the “Architect.” He went through the ranks of Deportivo La Coruña, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Sampdoria.

With the Spanish National Team, he donned 32 caps, scoring 13 goals, and conquered the Euro Cup in 64. 

After obtaining his Ballon d’Or, he was signed by Inter Milan with whom he achieved everything: two European Cups, three Scudettos and two Intercontinental Cups (1964 and 1965). 

He was the first footballer, together with Jesús María Pereda, to reach the European Cup and the European Championship in the same year (1964).

6. David Villa

To speak of David Villa is to speak of the best Spanish striker in history. At least from the numbers. 

Nobody scored more goals than “El Guaje” Villa wearing the national colors of Spain. In total, he plundered 59 annotations in 98 appearances, obtaining Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. Since his retirement from the national team in 2017, the “Fury” has struggled to find a guaranteed replacement at centre forward. Neither Morata, nor Aspas, nor Gerard Moreno, have been able to perform as well as the Spaniard.

Villa, who only retired in 2019, was a classic second striker with elite movement and superb finishing, that classed him as one of the best Spanish soccer players of all time. 

He enjoyed success not only with Spain, but Real Sporting de Gijón, Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid were able to enjoy their goals in Iberian territory. 

Melbourne City, New York City and Vissel Kobe were the three clubs in which he played abroad. He won four Zarra Trophies as the top Spanish scorer in La Liga.

5. Sergio Ramos

At 35-years-plus and still at a superlative level in football activity, Sergio Ramos is already considered one of the best defenders in history.

Many analysts, pundits and views alike rank him at the level of Beckenbauer, Baresi, Maldini and Passarella. Like Carles Puyol, he began his career as a right-back for Sevilla before he centralized his position at Real Madrid to become a true leader of the defense. 

Without going too far, he won the Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup with Spain being the starting right-back in the squad of Luis Aragonés and Vicente Del Bosque, respectively.

Ramos is a “thoroughbred” who usually appears at times when he is most needed. He was essential for Real Madrid’s European Cup conquest, “La Décima”, scoring a goal at the final second against city archrival, Atlético de Madrid, to send his team to the cusp of victory. 

With that battle of Lisbon, Madrid ended a 12-year drought in the Champions League. Subsequently, he was the captain of the historic 3 consecutive UCLs.

Recently, he was included in the third historic Dream Team of the Ballon d’Or and UEFA included him among the 10 best defenders in history. 

What is clear is that, in addition to his personality, leadership in the background and good footwork, Ramos is one of the most goal-scoring center-backs in history. 

He has 100 goals with Real Madrid and 23 with the Spanish National Team. A true Spanish football great.

4. Raúl González

Raúl Gonzalez was for a long time the top scorer for Real Madrid (323 goals in 741 appearances) and the Spanish National Team (44 goals in 102 games) until the brilliant emergence of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Villa, respectively. 

Currently, he remains one of the historic scorers UCL in the UEFA Champions League, occupying the third spot, after the aliens CR7 and Messi. It could be said that he is at the top of the “human” scorers in the European Champions League with 71 goals.

He won this competition up to three times (98, 00 and 02) and scored in two finals (00 and 02), making him not just one of the best Spanish players, but also one of Europe's finest. 

It was said of Raúl that he was a very complete striker, one of the best of his generation, but that he did not shine in any facet. 

Raúl was not a 100 percent at all, but had an 80 in all areas. A true football gentleman, who knew how to be great at Real Madrid from a very early age and for many years, before going to play in Germany, Qatar and the USA (Schalke 04, Al Sadd and New York Cosmos).

He played three World Cups and two Euro Cups with Spain. In 2001, Raúl was about to succeed Luis Suárez Miramontes as the second Spanish footballer capable of winning the Ballon d’Or. 

Unfortunately, he came second in the voting, behind Englishman Michael Owen. He however captured numerous individual distinctions, including being the La Liga Pichichi Trophy twice. Once, Guardiola said about him: “He is the best player in the history of Spain.”

3. Íker Casillas

For a long time, Iker Casillas was nicknamed the “Ghost of Zamora”, after replicating the legacy of the mythical Spanish goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora, in honor of whom the Zamora trophy was inaugurated in the 1959 season in the Spanish League.

Íker Casillas was for a long time the player with the most appearances in the UEFA Champions League with 177 games before being recently surpassed by Portugal's greatest, Cristiano Ronaldo

In addition, he remains second in the ranking of most games played with the Spanish National Team with 167, behind only Sergio Ramos. 

Casillas was in the national squad from 2000 to 2016 and captained the conquests of the 2008 and 2012 Euro Cups, as well as the historic 2010 World Cup.

Beyond his continuity and extraordinary numbers, Casillas can be defined as one of the best goalkeepers in all history and the best of the last era with the exclusion of Gigi Buffon.

In memory, his anthological paradons will remain forever. Casillas is the third best Spanish player in history.

With Real Madrid, he collected headlines that were as frequent as they were colorful. Perhaps the most memorable were those of the UCL final against Bayer Leverkusen in Glasgow, when he had to replace César. Or those two unlikely saves against Arjen Robben for Spain to win the first World Cup in its history.

2. Xavi Hernández

Xavi is the dream of any coach. A differential footballer like the crown of a pine tree. An organizing midfielder on which to build a style of play of control and possession. 

Infallible in his deliveries, intelligence within the reach of few and cerebral at best to bare the deficiencies of the rival and enhance the skills of his teammates. 

He made up for lack of physique in the middle, with the elegance and parsimony that distinguished him. 

His first years at FC Barcelona were somewhat irregular due to some turbulence at the club, but Josep Guardiola arrived and he knew how to understand the manager's tactics like no one else, raising his game to the umpteenth power.

Their idyll with the ball extended to the Spanish National Team, where Luis Aragonés decided to give him the “keys to the team” and from there his legend only grew bigger. 

Since then, Xavi Hernández, the MVP of Euro 2008, the tournament that changed the recent history of Spain, has not been remembered for bad games and is today one of the best Spanish football players of all time. 

He was in the World Cup’s Best XI and received the IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker Award four years in a row (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011).

Not satisfied with these awards, Xavi was part of  the FIFA Best XI up to six times. He received the Bronze Ball three times (2009, 2010 and 2011) and was included by France Football in their team A of legends, forming a dream midfielder together with the German Lothar Matthaus.

1. Andrés Iniesta

His level was very close to that of Xavi Hernández during the entirety of his career. The greatness of one cannot be understood without the presence of the other. 

They have constituted one of the best duos in the history of modern football, perhaps the best in the middle of the field, having the Kroos-Modric tandem in Real Madrid at hand. 

For some Xavi has been better, but for others Iniesta has been above. 

The substantial difference is that Iniesta, in addition to being a cerebral player, had a greater ability to change rhythm, dribble and step into the opposition area with amazing ease. 

For this reason, he managed to give Spain the 2010 World Cup with one of his goals. Many might disagree, but Andrés Iniesta is the best Spanish football player of all time.

Legends like Zinedine Zidane and Juan Román Riquelme have voiced their awe for Iniesta's unbelievable technique, control and movements on the field of play.

Manchego, who is still active in football in Japan, was able to win everything with Barcelona and the Spanish National Team. He won the love of millions of fans for his greatness on the field and his humility off it. 

With FC Barcelona, he played 674 official matches, scoring 57 goals and providing 139 goal assists, becoming one of the most important players in the history of the Blaugrana club. 

Together with Xavi Hernández and Lionel Messi, he formed a legendary triad of homegrown players who managed to take the podium of the Ballon d’Or in 2010, in which Iniesta was placed in second place.

Like Luis Suárez Miramontes, he was nominated up to eight times for the Ballon d’Or and was part of FIFA’s Best XI nine times (from 2009 to 2017), exhibiting an extraordinary mastery of the game. The “Genius of Fuentealbilla” has won 32 titles with FC Barcelona since his debut in 2002 and ranks as the best player in the history of Spanish football. 

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