Sports: How the Guardian ranked the 100 best male footballers in the world 2018

The Guardian, UK
Dec 17 2018
How the Guardian ranked the 100 best male footballers in the world 2018

Mario Kempes, Zico and Nuno Gomes were part of a 225-strong voting panel as we compiled our list of the best male footballers on the planet

For our seventh male top 100 list we have assembled a voting panel of 225 judges from 69 countries, led by legendary players such as Zico, Mario Kempes and Nuno Gomes.

They are backed up by a global selection of coaches, broadcasters, reporters, correspondents and editors, as well as other former players such as Javier Zanetti, Tugay Kerimoglu and Eyal Berkovic.

The 34 current and former professionals have won a combined total of 1,909 international caps.

Our 225 judges are drawn from around the world as follows: Africa 19, Asia 20, Europe 140, North and Central America 11, South America 35.

The countdown begins on Tuesday 18 December with Nos 100-71. On Wednesday we will reveal Nos 70-41, on Thursday Nos 40-11 before the top 10 on Friday completes this year’s list.

The Top 100 rules are explained beneath the list of judges. The judges are listed in alphabetical order by category.

Márcio Amoroso Former Brazil international with 19 caps
Patrik Andersson Former Sweden international who won 96 caps and played at the 1994 and 2002 World Cups
Roman Berezovsky Former Armenia international who won 94 caps between 1996 and 2016
Eyal Berkovic Former Israel international with 78 caps
Rune Bratseth Former Norway international with 60 caps who captained his country at the 1994 World Cup
Júlio César Former Brazil international who won 87 caps and played at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups
Gilles De Bilde Former Belgium international with 25 caps
Erik Edman Former Sweden international with 57 caps who played at the 2006 World Cup
Jan Åge Fjørtoft Former Norway international with 71 caps who played at the 1994 World Cup
Quinton Fortune Former South Africa international with 46 caps
Stelios Giannakopoulos Former Greece international with 77 caps who was part of the team that won Euro 2004
Nuno Gomes Former Portugal international with 79 caps who played at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups
Senol Günes Former Turkey international who led the country to third at the 2002 World Cup as a manager
Nihat Kahveci Former Turkey international with 79 caps who was part of the team that finished third in 2002
Mario Kempes Former Argentina international who played at three World Cups, winning the tournament in 1978
Tugay Kerimoglu Former Turkey international with 94 caps who was part of the team that finished third in 2002
Sergey Kiryakov Former Russian international who won 38 caps for USSR, CIS and Russia and played at the 1992 and 1996 European Championships
Emily Lima Former Portugal international with 12 caps. Now Santos Women coach
Lubomir Moravcik Former Czechoslovakia international with 80 caps for Czechoslovakia and Slovakia who played at the 1990 World Cup
Youri Mulder Former Netherlands international with nine caps
Szilard Nemeth Former Slovakia international with 58 caps
Armen Petikyan Former Armenia international with five caps
Lutz Pfannenstiel Former goalkeeper and the first player to have played professionally in all six Fifa confederations
Mart Poom Former Estonia international with 120 caps
Brent Sancho Former Trinidad and Tobago international with 43 caps who played at the 2006 World Cup and is a former Minister of Sports of Trinidad and Tobago
Mark Schwarzer Former Australia international with 109 caps who played at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups
Aleksey Smertin Former Russia international with 55 caps who played at the 2002 World Cup
Kazuyuki Toda Former Japan international who played for Tottenham Hotspur during the 2002-03 season
Julio César Uribe Former Peru international with 39 caps
Stanislav Varga Former Slovakia international with 54 caps
Frédéric Waseige Won the Belgian Cup and League Cup with FC Liège and is now a TV pundit
Jonny Williams Crystal Palace midfielder with 17 caps for Wales
Javier Zanetti Former Argentina international who played at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups
Zico Former Brazil international with 71 caps who played at the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups

Steve Darby Laos General Manager, Asian football consultant
Mattar M’boge Assistant manager of Gambia
Alisher Nikimbaev Technical expert, competitions and players affairs, Qatar Football Association

Ed Aarons Deputy news editor, the Guardian
Ahmed Adala Journalist at Radio IFM Tunisie and Coaching Foot in Tunisia
Aanu Adeoye Journalist working for CNN Africa bureau in Lagos, Nigeria
Omar Al Raisi Founder of Dantani, Inc. and Editor-in-Chief of The Sports Journal in the UAE
Tobias Altschäffl Chief footballer reporter at Sport-Bild in Germany
Nick Ames Football writer, the Guardian
David Amoyal Writer for the Athletic and host of the Calcioland podcast
Juan Arango TV commentator/Contributor Aficion Central (Ecuador), Sportsmax (Caribbean) and Al-Jazeera
Philippe Auclair Senior writer, France Football
Gregg Bakowski Football writer, the Guardian
Paolo Bandini Italian football correspondent, the Guardian
Marcelo Barreto Sports journalist and Presenter at Sportv in Brazil
John Bennett Broadcaster, BBC World Service & BBC 5 Live
Mina Finstad Berg Pundit and football expert at TV 2 in Norway
William Bi Football writer based in China
Christoph Biermann Football writer for 11Freunde in Germany
Andreas Böni Head of football at Blick in Switzerland
Anne-Laure Bonnet Journalist and presenter beIN Sports
Mareike Boysen Reporter at Ballesterer magazine in Austria
Andy Brassell European football writer/broadcaster
Costas Bratsos Football writer at in Greece
Rodrigo Bueno Football journalist and FOX commentator in Brazil
Gevorg Burnuchyan Editor-in-chief of in Armenia
Mariana Cabral Football writer for Expresso and Sporting U-19 women’s team coach
Pedro Canelo Journalist at El Comercio in Peru
Lédio Carmona Football journalist and SporTV commentator in Brazil
Antonio Casale Host of En La Jugada at RCN Radio and presents a TV show on Winsports in Colombia
Khachik Chakhoyan Uefa Media representer in Armenia
Martin Charquero Uruguayan football journalist on Tenfield, Teledoce and Radio Sport890
Ivaylo Chilev Football journalist and Champions League broadcast producer at bTV Media Group in Bulgaria
Marcus Christenson Football editor, the Guardian
Solace Chukwu Football Writer for the Africa Desk of
Paulo Vinicius Coelho Football writer and Fox commentator in Brazil
Junior Coimbra CEO of Jogo das Estrelas, Host of Rap77 Podcast and Ambassador of the Adventure of Humanity Project in Brazil
James Corbett Sports writer and principal of deCoubertin Books
Joe Crann Soccer Laduma journalist in South Africa. Part-time TV and Radio analyst
James Dart Sports editor,
Kirill Dementyev Channel One commentator in Russia
Salif Diallo Journalist at Agence de Presse Sénégelaise
Paul Doyle Football writer, the Guardian
John Duerden Asian Football Correspondent for the Guardian
Vincent Duluc Senior reporter at L’Equipe
Magnús Már Einarsson Editor of in Iceland
Claudia Ekai Kwese Sports Correspondent in Kenya
Mohamed Amine Elamri Sports journalist at Le Matin in Morocco
Kasper Elissaar Editor-in-chief at Soccernet in Estonia
Muhannad El Shennawy Online journalist at Sky News Arabia in the UAE
Rodrigo Errasti Sports editor in chief of the Agencia Colpisa-Vocento in Spain
Alejandro Etcheverry Journalist working for Espn Deportes Radio in Egypt
Amr Fahmy Journalist working for beIN Sports in Egypt
Christian Falk Head of football at Sport-Bild in Germany
Eric Faria Football journalist at TV Globo in Brazil
Mohammed Fayad Editor of, based in Australia
Dominic Fifield Football writer, the Guardian
Ben Fisher Football writer, the Guardian
Solomon Fowowe Football journalist at the Guardian in Nigeria
Johanna Frändén European football correspondent for Swedish paper Aftonbladet
Jesús Garrido Spanish football journalist
Jonas Giaever Norwegian football journalist
Barry Glendenning Football writer and Guardian Football Weekly regular
Mélisande Gomez Football reporter at L’Equipe
Cristian Grosso Sports editor of La Nación in Argentina
Andreas Hagenauer Football journalist at Der Standard
Thomas Lund Hansen Football writer at Jyllands-Posten in Denmark
Pavel Hartman Czech football writer at Sport daily
Gudmundur Hilmarsson Sport journalist at Morgunbladid and in Iceland
Johannes Hofer Presenter at Sky Sport Austria
Andy Hunter Football writer, the Guardian
David Hytner Football writer, the Guardian
Sasa Ibrulj Bosnian football writer
Wael Jabir Editor, Dubai
Jamie Jackson Football writer, the Guardian
Behnam Jafarzadeh Deputy editor at, Iran
Paulius Jakelis Lithuania’s most well-known TV football commentator
Stuart James Football writer, the Guardian
Ott Järvela Football journalist and chairman of Estonian Sports Press Association
Nicholas John Snr Asst Vice President, Sports Production , Astro Sports, Malaysia
Kristján Jónsson Sport journalist for Morgunblaðið/ in Iceland
Boris Jovanovic Editor in Chief
Eduard Kalantaryan Head of Armenia TV sport
Ugur Karakullukcu A Spor pundit and Sabah journalist in Turkey
Celestine Karoney Kenyan sports journalist
Hideki Kasuya Japanese football journalist, commentator and broadcaster
Ali Khaled Editor of FourFourTwo Arabia
Shinya Kizaki Japanese football journalist, broadcaster and commentator
Pavle Knezevic Reporter at
Freddhy Koula Football writer at TDA/Canal+Afrique
Charbel Krayem Presenter at the Golden Ball football show, commentator on MTV Lebanon and head of sport Al Akhbar newspaper
Ermal Kuka Sports journalist at in Albania
Cecilia Lagos Sports journalist. Columnist at Medios Regionales El Mercurio and
Steven Lavon Sports journalist and editor-in-chief of in Lomé, Togo
Amy Lawrence Football writer, the Guardian
Sergio Levinsky Journalist working for Infobae and Jornada in Argentina as well as Kicker in Germany
Gianluca Lia Sports journalist at Times of Malta
Pablo Londinsky Uruguayan football journalist at Tenfield
Sid Lowe Spanish football correspondent for the Guardian
Olof Lundh Swedish football writer for Fotbollskanalen and Dagens Industri, pundit for TV4 and C More and author
Ben Lyttleton Football author and consultant
Ben Mabley Japan-based television commentator for J Sports, SkyPerfecTV, and DAZN
Jaime F. Macias Football analyst at BeIN Sports USA
Paul MacInnes Sports writer, the Guardian
Hatem Maher Senior Sports Editor at Ahram Online in Egypt
Carlos Eduardo Mansur Football writer for O Globo in Brazil
Luca Marchetti Chief Editor of Sky Sport Italia
Milos Markovic Football writer,
Gergely Marosi Freelance sports journalist and football writer in Hungary
Everaldo Marques Football journalist and ESPN broadcaster in Brazil
Tom Marshall Football writer based in Mexico
Ana Thaís Matos Brazilian journalist and SporTV commentator
Martin Mazur Argentinian football journalist for El Gráfico, FourFourTwo and La Gazzetta dello Sport
Ugur Meleke Football columnist at Hürriyet Daily. Also a pundit for CNN Turk and Radyospor
Renata Mendonça Journalist and UOL columnist in Brazil
Maher Mezahi Freelance journalist covering North African football
Janusz Michallik Former US international and ESPN football analyst
Nick Miller Football writer, the Guardian
Luo Ming Sports Editor, Titan Sports, China
Adriana Monsalve Broadcaster and journalist for Univision Deportes in Venezuela
Tomasz Mortimer Hungarian football writer
Elena Mpountou Football writer at
Hassanin Mubarak Football writer
Hirofumi Nakano Journalist and radio show host in Japan
Sachin Nakrani Football writer, the Guardian
Christian Nourry Editor-in-chief, Get French Football News
Vladimir Novak Freelance journalist and producer based in Belgrade, Serbia working for various international media such as World Soccer and World Soccer Digest
Hernan O’Donnell Journalist working for Universo Deportivo who has previously written for El Gráfico and La Nación
Antonis Oikonomidis Greek freelance football writer
Oluwashina Okeleji Reporter for BBC Sport, World Soccer and Al Jazeera online
Collins Okinyo African football journalist and managing editor of
Rafael Oliveira Football journalist and ESPN commentator in Brazil
Ichiro Ozawa Japanese football journalist, commentator, and broadcaster
Fernando Palomo ESPN commentator and the voice of FIFA 17 in Latin America
Juan Carlos Pasman Argentinian journalist who presents his own shows on DirecTV Sports and Radio La Red
Mauro Cezar Pereira Football journalist and ESPN commentator in Brazil
Artur Petrosyan Russian football journalist and reporter
Thiago Rabelo Brazilian football journalist at Sagres 730 and Guardian contributor
Andrey Raychtock Sports reporter at Rede Globo in Brazil
Melissa Reddy Senior football correspondent at FootballJOE
Aysha Ridzuan Social Media Manager SEA at Dugout Limited, Singapore
Roberto Rivera Sports commentator and producer with his own company, Gol Dreams Films. Also presenter of a show on WAO (radio) and Gol Magazine (TV) in Panama
Jorge Luiz Rodrigues Football journalist and SporTV Head of production in Brazil
José Armando Rodríguez Editor-in-chief, Deporte Total USA
Fabrizio Romano Sky Sport Italy journalist and Guardian contributor
Barney Ronay Senior sports writer, the Guardian
Gonzalo Ronchi Journalist at Radio Sport890
Emanuel Rosu Romanian football writer at
Stephan Roth Reporter at Swiss daily Blick
Guillermo Rubio “Gumi” Freelance sports journalist working for, among others, FOX Sports Argentina and Onda Cero in Spain

Jeff Rueter Football writer for The Athletic
Max Rushden Presenter of the Guardian Football Weekly and The Warm-up Show on Talksport
Arlind Sadiku Sports journalist and commentator at Digitalb/Supersport Kosova
Marwan Saeed Operations manager of
José Luis Sánchez Journalist for La Sexta TV in Spain
Emre Sarigul Editor and founder of
Santiago Segurola Football writer for El País/AS
Hyungwook Seo MBC Football pundit, Footballist Editor
Cagdas Sevinc Journalist at Futbol Arena in Turkey
Metodi Shumanov Bulgarian football writer
Vidir Sigurdsson Sports editor of Morgunbladid and and author of the Icelandic Football Yearbook
Mojmir Stasko Football writer for Dennik Sport in Slovakia
Jacob Steinberg Football writer, the Guardian
Vladimir Stognienko Russian football expert and VGTRK commentator
Julia Stuart TV presenter at SuperSport in South Africa
Saku-Pekka Sundelin Football journalist at Ilta-Sanomat
Aet Süvari Estonian football reporter
Agris Suveizda Reporter for in Latvia
Sindri Sverrisson Sports journalist at Morgunbladid and in Iceland
Nuno Travassos Portuguese football writer at Maisfutebol
Duc Truong Tran Chief football reporter,, Saigon, Vietnam
Mihalis Tsohos director, commentator on Cosmote TV and host of a radio show on
Vaios Tsoutsikas Director at with his own daily show on the radio station
Darren Tulett Presenter at beIN Sports in France
Will Unwin Football writer, the Guardian
Patrick Urbini Football writer for France Football
Andres Vaher Football writer for Postimees in Estonia
Lari Vesander Journalist at Urheilulehti in Finland
Bart Vlietstra Dutch football journalist working for de Volkskrant and SANTOS magazine
Lukas Vrablik Slovakian freelance football writer
Ville Väänänen Finnish football reporter at Ilta-Sanomat
Ola Wenström TV presenter at Viasat in Sweden
Greg Wilcox Sports Editor Arab News
Tomasz Wlodarczyk Chief football writer, Przeglad Sportowy
Carl Worswick Football writer based in Colombia
Michael Yokhin European football writer
Ahmad Yousef Egyptian football journalist and editor at in London
Víctor Zaferson Football scout & consultant, Diario de un Scout magazine in Peru
Federico Zanon Italian football journalist working for Sky Sport and Eurosport
Tim Zinoviev Chief Editor of in Belarus
Volodymyr Zverov Ukrainian TV presenter with his own football show

Our judges were sent a longlist of more than 500 footballers drawn from leagues on every continent and asked one simple question: who have been the best male players in the world in 2018?

We asked our judges to choose 40 names each, and rank their selection in order from 1-40, No1 being their choice of the best male player in the world this year.

The No 1 choice of each judge was awarded 40pts, No 2 given 39pts, down to 1pt for their No 40 choice. All the votes were added together to give a raw score.

To minimise the influence of outliers in the list, the highest score awarded to a player was then deducted to give a final score.

A player needed to receive votes from at least five judges to qualify for the list.

If players are level on points in the scoring, the number of individual votes cast is used as a tie-breaker.

The individual voting breakdown will be published when the full list has been revealed.

We are very grateful to our judges for taking part, and none have been paid for participating in this project.

To allow our judges the freedom to express their opinions without fear or favour, individual voting records will be anonymised in the full breakdown of scores.

Voters are identified only by their category and a number chosen at random. The judges’ numbers bear no relation whatsoever to the alphabetical list of judges’ names presented above.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS