Top five football dribblers of all-time

Harsh Sinha Roar Guru

35 Have your say

Popular article! 9,698 reads

    Related coverage

    Dribbling is the ability to go past opposition players with a quick change of direction, burst of pace or a neat trick.

    Many players have graced the game with their phenomenal dribbling skills. However, when you talk about the best of all-time, it’s a challenge in every aspect.

    Some players dribble past a defender and falter immediately at the next hurdle. Some dribble past many defenders and earn a strong name, only to never repeat it.

    So here I will list the top five dribblers of all-time, who have shocked the world with their skills and have been quite consistent.

    5. Ronaldinho

    The Brazilian is known for his quick speed and lightning body movements. Playing for Brazil and Barcelona, he would go past several defenders quite consistently.

    His signature move, the elastico, was to push the ball sideways and within a second turn it the other way around. It was a treat for all the football spectators who saw this legendary man dribble past some great defenders and leave them puzzled.

    4. George Best

    The best player ever to play for Manchester United from Northern Ireland, Best was a genius in all regards. Who can forget his six goals in a match against Northampton? This man used his right foot and had great ball control.

    Some hailed him as the best player ever and some called him the best of his generation. This United legend surely is a deserving candidate for the number four spot.

    3. Johan Cruyff

    Hendrik Johannes Cruyff is the best Dutch player of all-time with massive amount of goals and individual awards attached to his credentials. He won the Ballon d’Or three times (1971, ’73, ’74) and was voted as the European Player of the Century in 1999.

    He had his own move eventually named after him, the “Cruyff turn”. In this move he would act like he is about to pass the ball to his teammate but would eventually drag the ball with his foot, turning 90 degrees and going past defenders.

    2. Lionel Messi

    This man needs no introduction. The only player in the history of the game to have collected four Ballon d’Or awards. He creates new records and break his own records. He has established himself as the best player of the modern era and perhaps one of the best of all-time.

    When you talk about his dribbling skills, this is his strength. He repeated Maradona’s World Cup ’86 display when he dribbled past six Getafe defenders and scored a monumental goal. This happened when he was only 18 years of age.

    Today, he has 22 hat-tricks and lots of other records. Some legends including Raul have said that the way he runs and dribbles is impossible to do. It’s his dribbling ability which has made him so successful in football.

    1. Diego Maradona

    Arguably the best footballer of all-time, this magician from Argentina was often marked by three or four defenders during a game.

    He scored the goal of the century in the 1986 World Cup against England where he dribbled past six quality English defenders and later said in an interview that nobody could have stopped him.

    Maradona led Argentina to World Cup glory in ’86 and also assisted his club sides – Boca Juniors, Napoli and Barcelona – to many titles.

    People may argue on about the best player of all-time, but when it comes to dribbling ability, is there anyone better than this Argentine?

    Do you find yourself logged out of The Roar?
    We have just switched over to a secure site (https). This means you will need to log-in afresh. If you need help with recovering your password, please get in contact.

    This video is trending right now! Submit your videos for the chance to win a share of $10,000!

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (35)

    • March 26th 2013 @ 7:30am
      Mice said | March 26th 2013 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      Stanley Matthews !

      • Roar Guru

        April 17th 2013 @ 1:04am
        Harsh Sinha said | April 17th 2013 @ 1:04am | ! Report

        Stanley Matthews was the best English dribbler i can think of. He is surely not in the same league of people that i;ve mentioned.

    • March 26th 2013 @ 8:05am
      Jayden said | March 26th 2013 @ 8:05am | ! Report

      The Ronaldo? O fenomeno? He could rip anyone at any time

      • March 26th 2013 @ 9:29am
        Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | March 26th 2013 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Not bad when you can put together a 15 minute highlights package of yourself taking the mickey out of players at the top level of club and international football.Fantastic athlete as well would have been horrible to see a 6ft shaven headed Brazilian running at you like that.Was my idol growing up and watching a player like that reminds you why this is the greatest game of all.

      • March 26th 2013 @ 12:25pm
        Haz said | March 26th 2013 @ 12:25pm | ! Report


        Thanks for that, I’d forgotten how good Ronaldo was at his prime.

    • March 26th 2013 @ 8:52am
      jbinnie said | March 26th 2013 @ 8:52am | ! Report

      Harsh -An inane question for it is highly opinionative in how it is answered.However going along with your aim is it any wonder 3 or 4 out of five of your nominations are recognised “wingers” and I could add 5 who in my time would have made Cruyff look very ordinary indeed when it came to the art of displaying “consistent” dribbling as their main “weapon” in their impact on any game they played.
      Garrincha (Brazil),Matthews,(England),Hamrin&Skoglund (Sweden),Johnstone & Henderson (Scotland). These five were all “wingers” and with your Messi,Maradona and Best all had one thing in common, heightwise they were all on the “short” side and so had a “built in” highly developed low centre of gravity which gave them a huge advantage when taking the ball up to a much taller defender and putting him off balance with their fast twisting and turning.All of them that have been mentioned also had a highy developed first and second touch on the ball,an absolute necessity in a successful dribbler.
      To get into the area of goalscoring as you have, then some of the best “dribblers” have to be left out for that is a different skill altogether,most dribblers are more renowned for their goal making skills rather than their goal taking skills but a check on Hamrin during his long career in Italy puts him up with the best goal takers in the world at that time, just like Messi today.jb

      • March 26th 2013 @ 9:04am
        Punter said | March 26th 2013 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        Garrincha for me without a doubt the best, but yes highly opinionated question & you will get many answers, but Messi, Matthews, Ronaldinho & Best would round of my top 5.
        JB, I have never heard of those Swedish guys, my ignorance.

        • March 26th 2013 @ 10:00am
          Jayden said | March 26th 2013 @ 10:00am | ! Report

          Garricha, apparenly the elder Brazilians often hold him above Pele, and I love his videos

          Fun Fact: When the two played Brazil never lost a game

          • March 26th 2013 @ 10:58am
            Damiano said | March 26th 2013 @ 10:58am | ! Report

            All of the 5 mentioned are great dribblers of the ball, but Garrincha was the best in my opinion, especially bwhen you consider he did it all with his damaged leg.

        • March 26th 2013 @ 11:02am
          jbinnie said | March 26th 2013 @ 11:02am | ! Report

          Punter Like many other of today’s fans the influence of Sweden and Swedish players is constantly ovelooked in favour of the much vaunted but innaccurate Dutch influence.of the early ’70’S. They reached the final of the WC in ’58 losing to the young Pele’s Brazil but by that time Hamrin and Skoglund, with the immaculate midfielder Leidholm, were to have a huge influence on Italian football. Hamrin, as a scoring winger actually stands among the top goalscorers in Serie A having netted 190 goals at that level.Like Garrincha, Skoglund was a tragic figure, and at the end of his football career was not long with us, dying far too young. jb

    • March 26th 2013 @ 9:32am
      Fivehole said | March 26th 2013 @ 9:32am | ! Report

      Paul Vautin – oh wait, wrong sort of dribbler

      • March 26th 2013 @ 9:47am
        Australian Rules said | March 26th 2013 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        not bad

    • March 26th 2013 @ 11:34am
      Planet Football said | March 26th 2013 @ 11:34am | ! Report

      Tom Finney?

      Ryan Giggs, in his heyday?

      Chris Waddle?

      George Best used both feet! Maradona good, Pele better, George Best…..

      • March 26th 2013 @ 7:08pm
        nickoldschool said | March 26th 2013 @ 7:08pm | ! Report

        i also had Chris Waddle during his best years at marseille. Ginola too.

      • Roar Guru

        April 17th 2013 @ 1:07am
        Harsh Sinha said | April 17th 2013 @ 1:07am | ! Report

        its just a good phrase. We all know that both the South Americans were better than George Best. Ryan Giggs at his best would still be far away from people like Messi, Diego, Dinho,etc.

        • April 17th 2013 @ 8:51am
          Planet Football said | April 17th 2013 @ 8:51am | ! Report

          ‘ We all know that both the South Americans were better than George Best.’

          Well, that is your opinion, I disagree!

          Apart from dribbling, Best could pass, shoot and play with both feet. He could also head and tackle – he had the lot.

          Also came from a tiny country with a population of around a million, and with not a great football pedigree. Physically, he was not overly blessed with great attributes. Makes his brilliance and success even more remarkable.

          Unfortunately, he was never able to play at a World Cup and prove himself at the very highest level. Had he done so, he would probably be even more highly regarded.

          The greatest of all time, to my mind.

    • March 26th 2013 @ 11:54am
      Dean Vincent said | March 26th 2013 @ 11:54am | ! Report

      Quite surprised Michael Laudrup isn’t on here.

      I remember him doing some amazing stuff at both club and international level.

      There are a couple of great compilations on YouTube of him strutting his stuff.

      The players listed are certainly no mugs though! Some of Best’s skills on the quagmire pitches of the late 60s/early 70s is incredible.

    , , , , ,