Wednesday, 24 Jul 2024

The 10 Best French Soccer Players of All Time

France national team

If you think of famous French exports, you’ll probably think of great wine, great restaurants, and great bread, but French soccer players are easily on par with all of these. Over the decades, France has produced and exported some of the world’s greatest soccer players.

Every great team invariably has a French player who is invaluable to the club’s success. French players, blessed with skill and a hunger to succeed on the world stage, never go out of fashion.

It’s no wonder clubs throughout Europe send scouts to the French leagues looking for the next superstar player; as a soccer nation, there aren’t many better places to find quality players than France.

Today we’re going to look at the 10 best French soccer players of all time, and it was a tough list to compile, as we’ve had to leave off some truly exceptional soccer players.

10. N’Golo Kante

N'Golo Kante

  • Position: Defensive Midfield

N’Golo Kante is a testament to just how vital a player he is to both France and Chelsea. One of the most consistent and energetic players the Premier League has ever seen, Kante is a box-to-box midfielder without peer.

His intelligence and ball-winning skills make him invaluable to both club and country. Kante is known for his selflessness on the field, constantly harrying opponents to retrieve the ball and providing passing options to his teammates. He rarely loses the ball, rarely gets booked, and is one of the first names on the teamsheet.

9. Didier Deschamps

Didier Deschamps

  • Position: Defensive Midfield

Didier Deschamps, the current France manager, is a former defensive midfielder known for his tremendous work rate and stamina as a player. He displayed extraordinary leadership skills on and off the field and is only the second player to lift a World Cup as both a captain and a manager.

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In a distinguished career that saw him play for Nantes, Marseille, Valencia, Juventus, and Chelsea, Deschamps was an integral part of every team he played in. A Champions League winner with Marseille in 1993, it was at Juventus that his profile skyrocketed.

Deschamps continues to build his legacy as one of the most important products French soccer has ever produced.

8. Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona

  • Position: Centre-Forward

Love him or hate him, Eric Cantona was one of his generation’s most enigmatic and talented soccer players. As a player, Cantona was often brilliant beyond words but had a temperament that often infuriated fans and managers alike.

At Manchester United, Cantona helped the team win the league four times, including two league and FA Cup double-winning seasons. His presence transformed a young United side into the powerhouse of English soccer.

Cantona’s arrogance and supreme confidence in his abilities allowed the younger players around him to believe that they could compete with the best. With players like David Beckham, Gary Neville, and Paul Scholes emerging as the best young players in England, Cantona took on the mantle of team talisman, and the rest is history.

7. Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira

  • Position: Defensive Midfield

Patrick Vieira is one of the greatest midfielders the Premier League has ever seen. A combative yet elegant player with a mean streak that was perfectly suited to the English game of the 1990s.

After a breakout season with Cannes, Vieira moved to AC Milan in Italy, where he was quickly sold to Arsenal in 1996. Over the next nine years, Vieira developed into one of the most formidable midfielders in world soccer, controlling the center of the park with his passing range and tackling ability.

Without the ball, Vieira was a tenacious harrier of the opposition, constantly anticipating and breaking down attacks. With the ball, he transformed into a tall, rangy player who lifted his head and glided across the pitch, looking for ways to start an attack.

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6. Marcel Desailly

Marcel Desailly

  • Position: Centre-Back

Marcel Desailly was arguably the best defender on the planet at his peak. With a career spanning two decades, Desailly turned defending into an art form, demonstrating his tackling ability, strength, and leadership skills.

He was equally successful on the international stage, winning the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championships two years later. Desailly is considered the benchmark of what a complete defender looks like.

5. Franck Ribery

Franck Ribery

  • Position: Left Winger

Franck Ribery has been a supremely consistent performer throughout his career. After a solid career in France, a move to Bayern Munich propelled him into the limelight in 2007.

Ribery’s blistering pace and excellent ball control make him a fearsome sight for defenders. Despite several injuries, he has been a mainstay in European soccer for 20 years and is known for his tendency to showboat.

4. Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema

  • Position: Centre-Forward

Karim Benzema is regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation. Since his move to Real Madrid in 2009, he has consistently scored goals and become increasingly critical to the team’s success.

His strength on the ball, awareness, and goal-scoring ability have made him vital to both club and country. Benzema shows no signs of slowing down and continues to be a prolific and consistent striker.

3. Michel Platini

Michel Platini

  • Position: Midfielder

Michel Platini is one of the greatest attacking midfielders in history. With an astonishing scoring record, he was known for his incredible free-kick technique.

Platini was a leader on the field, driving his team to victory with his determination and skills. He won many team honors throughout his career and received several individual awards.

2. Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry

  • Position: Centre-Forward

Thierry Henry is an absolute thoroughbred of a player. Elegant, intelligent, and lethal in front of goal, he terrified defenders.

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Henry became one of the best players on the planet at Arsenal, transforming from a winger into a striker without peer. He is a legend at Arsenal and a Premier League icon.

1. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane

  • Position: Attacking Midfield

Zinedine Zidane was a player of incredible loyalty and skill. His movement, passing elegance, vision, and ball control were unparalleled.

Zidane is considered one of the most intelligent and complete midfielders of any generation. He helped France win the 1998 World Cup, finish runners-up in 2006, and lead the team to victory in the 2000 European Championships.

For sheer brilliance and influence on modern soccer, Zinedine Zidane is the best French soccer player of all time.


Q: Who is the best French soccer player of all time?
A: Zinedine Zidane is widely regarded as the best French soccer player of all time due to his incredible skill, vision, and influence on the game.

Q: Who are some other notable French soccer players?
A: While there are many notable French soccer players, some honorable mentions include Michel Platini, Thierry Henry, Karim Benzema, and Eric Cantona.

Q: Which French soccer players have won major international tournaments?
A: French soccer players have had success on the international stage, with notable examples being their victory in the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championships.


French soccer has produced some of the most talented and influential players in the history of the game. From Zinedine Zidane’s elegance and skill to Thierry Henry’s lethal prowess in front of goal, these players have left an indelible mark on the sport.

Their contributions to their clubs and national teams have been invaluable, and their legacies continue to inspire future generations of French soccer players.

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