Brazil is soccer, the beautiful game defined by great players, skill, and flair. Brazil may have fielded the greatest World Cup team in history, the 1970 World Cup squad that won the nation’s third of five titles.
This list sadly could not fit all of the great players in Brazil’s past but honorable mentions include Bebeto, Kaka, Rai, Rivaldo, and Robinho. Still the next 25 players left a huge mark on the national team.
Here are 25 legendary World Cup players for the Brazilian national team, each one of these players left a mark in their era and on the five-time champions.
Neymar should really be higher on this list but despite being Brazil’s second all-time leading goal scorer and playing exceptionally well for his national team, Ney has yet to win the big prize. Like Lionel Messi, if Neymar wants his name to be among the greats, he needs to win a World Cup.
24. Cláudio Taffarel
Strange to see a goalkeeper on the list but Cláudio Taffarel was a solid goalkeeper for Brazil. Known for being a shot stopper and a penalty kick saver, Cláudio Taffarel played in three World Cups for Brazil, coming up huge in PKs in 1994 and 1998. Cláudio Taffarel won three titles with the yellow and blue.
A clinical goal scorer, Careca had an amazing partnership with Diego Maradona at Napoli and on the Brazilian national team scored 30 goals in 64 games. Careca played in two World Cups for Brazil in 1986 and 1990.
The elegant midfielder Didi was a major part of two World Cup titles for Brazil in 1958 and 1962. Known as a free kick specialist Didi would play for top teams in Brazil and a stint at Real Madrid. Didi won 10 titles with Brazil.
A member of the famed 1970 World Cup winning side, Clodoaldo was a legendary defensive midfielder who only played 38 games for Brazil. His only goal was critical a semifinal goal against Uruguay in Mexico 70.
Júnior was a two footed left back with incredible passing abilities and forward play. Júnior played in two World Cups in 1982 and 1986 and was capped 74 times and scored 6 goals.
A commanding defender Aldair played in three World Cups for Brazil winning the 1994 tournament and reaching the final in 1998. Aldair also led the backline to lift two Copa Americas and a Confederations Cup.
18. Carlos Alberto
Carlos Alberto was the leader in the locker room in the 1970 World Cup for Brazil, the hard-working defensive midfielder that kept a host of star players together. Carlos Alberto played 53 times for Brazil scoring 8 goals.
Talented midfielder Falcão represented Brazil in two World Cups and was known for his elegance on the ball and his playmaking abilities. One of the most talented players of his generation, Falcão scored 6 goals in 34 games.
One of the most skillful soccer players of all time, Ronaldinho was just eye candy for soccer fans. Winner of the 2002 World Cup and 2 other major titles, the skill of Ronaldinho was huge. 33 goals in 97 matches. Had it not been for his off the field antics he’d be higher on the list.
Another skillful and legendary midfielder from the 1970 side, Gérson was a very capable defensive midfielder who won possession and played off of the rest of his teammates. Gérson played in two World Cups.
14. Roberto Carlos
The Real Madrid left back was more than just a defender he was skill down the flank, possessed a lethal free kick, and was sensational at coming up with defensive and offensive plays. Roberto Carlos played 125 times and scored 11 goals for Brazil winning six cups.
Dunga was the leader, the rock in the middle for Brazil in three World Cup’s winning the 1994 tournament and being a finalist in 98. A hardnosed midfielder, Dunga was the coach on the field and won 4 titles with the national team.
A born winner, Cafu is the greatest right back in soccer, having won two World Cups and being a finalist in another. In total Cafu has won 5 championships with Brazil and at the club level has won 20 championships in total. A remarkable career.
Before Brazil dominated the World Cup, they had early struggles despite having talented teams. No player was more skilled than Leônidas who scored 21 goals in 19 matches and played in two World Cups in 1934 and 1938.
Lacking in physical strength, Tostão made up for it in mental toughness and dribbling skills to get out of trouble. Tostão played in two World Cups winning the 1970 tournament and scoring 32 goals in 54 matches.
One of the best attacking midfielders in Brazil’s history Rivellino played 92 games and scored 26 goals. He was a part of the famed 1970 side that won in Mexico and played in two more World Cup’s after.
One of the most prolific goal scorers in Brazil’s history, Romario was a huge part of the team’s 1994 title. Romario was one of the best strikers of his era, known for his deadly touch and knack for scoring, Romario was always ready for the big occasion., even though he was hardly what you’d call professional.
7. Mário Zagallo
Maybe no one has been more associated with the Brazilian national team than Mário Zagallo, known as El Lobo, The Wolf, for his temperament, Zagallo has been a player, assistant, and manager on the national team. Literally a lifetime with Brazil. On the field Zagallo was a winger who played and won two World Cups in 1958 and 1962. He’d win the 70 World Cup as a manager, a true national treasure.
Another great standard of the Brazilian national team, Jairzinho was a sensational winger who scored 33 goals in 81 matches and played in three World Cups winning one and placing fourth in another.
An attacking midfielder with a view for goal and a vision that was considered second to none. Sócrates was considered the “brain” of Brazil in the 1980s, playing 60 times and scoring 22 goals and despite never winning a major title, Sócrates was a brilliant player loved by the fans.
A dribbler like no other, Garrincha was born with street style, for three World Cups, Garrincha was just as popular and important as Pelé. 12 goals in 50 appearances and the 1958 and 1962 World Cups to boot, Garrincha was worth the price of admission.
An amazing talent that scored 48 goals in 71 games for Brazil, Zico was an attacking midfielder known for his flair, speed, exceptional technique, ball control and dribbling skills. Zico is considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time.
Ronaldo was a phenomenon during his career, at Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan he was the best of his generation. Ronaldo is the second all-time leading scorer in the World Cup with 15 goals in 19 matches, winning the 2002 World Cup by scoring two goals in the final.
Does he really need an introduction? Pelé won three World Cups, scored over a 1,000 goals in his career and is the ambassador of the sport. The world continues to idolize Pelé, and he has more than deserved his accolades, maybe the greatest player of all time.
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