A Tribute to the Fans
No discussion of soccer is complete without mentioning the fans. It is the fans who have made soccer the most popular spectator sport in the world. Soccer fans are some of the loudest, most enthusiastic of any sports fans. The world’s largest stadiums are dedicated to the sport of soccer. (Trivia alert: The largest stadium is Maracana in Brazil with an unofficial capacity of more than 200,000.) More than 28 billion viewers in 213 countries watched television coverage of the 2002 World Cup competition.

Throughout the history of the game, great players and great teams have made their mark. Some of the great names in men’s soccer history are listed here.

Soccer is a very basic game with simple rules that has captured the world. Today, more than 300 million people play this truly worldwide sport.

Soccer's Noteworthy Players
Gordon Banks
English goalkeeper remembered for his famous save during the 1970 World Cup game against Brazil.
Franz Beckenbauer
Great German player known as "The Kaiser." He invented the position of sweeper.
Brazilian soccer sensation who was on three World Cup championship teams in 1958, 1962 and 1970. Pele’s real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento.
Ference Puskas
A Hungarian ball-handling wonder. Puskas won a World Cup, an Olympic gold, a world club championship and three European Cups,
Marco Van Basten
A Dutch player considered one the greatest goal scorers of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Remembered for a remarkable goal scored against the Soviet Union in the 1988 European Championship.
Duncan Edwards
A phenomenal English player who died in a 1958 plane crash that killed eight members of the Manchester United. He is memorialized in a stained glass window in Dudley, Worcestershire, England.
The leading Portuguese footballer. He scored nine goals in the 1966 World Cup.
Brazilian player who is considered soccer’s greatest best dribbler.
Stanley Matthews
An English football great. He played for 33 years and was still competing at the age of 50. He was made a knight in 1965.
Gerd Muller
A German goal-scoring sensation nicknamed “Der Bomber.” He scored 68 goals in 62 matches.
Michel Plantini
French soccer star is the only player besides Johan Cryuff to be named European Footballer of the Year three times.
Alfredo DiStefano
A versatile player who covered the whole field. Many consider this Argentinean soccer’s best all-around player.
Lev Yashin
Famous Soviet goalkeeper who was called “the Black Panther.”
Dino Zoff
Italian goalkeeper who went 1142 minutes without allowing a goal.