Greatest Dribbler of All Time

KetilOwren88

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Growing up as a United fan in the 90s and early 2000s, I hated every second Thierry Henry had the ball against us during his peak. Obviously he was never the best dribbler in the history of football, but God that man knew how to beat a man
 

Red Shorts

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Maradonna without a shadow of a doubt. Do people realise how balls were different to 20 years later when Messi picked them up, who is a close 2nd to this award???
 

Stack

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My top 3 in that order:

Messi
Maradona
George Best.

Others who will be in my top 20, but not in any order, and I am not including players who I have not seen much either youtube or tele.

Luis Ronaldo
Garrincha
Cruyff
Stanley Matthews
Ronaldinho
Rivelino
Zico
Pele
Omar Sivori
Jimmy Johnstone
Savicevic
Ariel Ortega
Robert Prosinecki
Jay-Jay Okocha
Littbarski
Andres Iniesta
Resenbrink
Great list.
 

Belisarius

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I remember watching one goal Ibrahimovic scored where he left 4 or 5 guys on the ground in the opposition penalty area before scoring. Most exciting dribbling goal I can remember.

As for consistent dribbling skills, got to go with Messi although I admit I never saw many of the old-timers mentioned in this thread.
 

TheLord

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I don't believe in YouTube videos, so I'll leave the likes of Garrincha aside. Among the other usual suspects - Cruijff, Messi, Pele, Maradona, Ronaldinho, and Ronaldo Nazário, Messi is my easy pick.

Best was amazing too, but I haven't seen another player with Messi's dribbling skill, and consistently at that for well over a decade.
 

Wing Attack Plan R

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Is it Ronaldinho? I vote Ronaldinho, because not only was he wonderfully inventive and skillful with the ball, he was also playful. He did stuff in games to entertain himself and the crowd, and at times he did things with the ball just to feck with the opposition, just taking the piss out of his opponents. Brilliant.
 
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Wing Attack Plan R

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Looking at that George Best video, remember he did all that while the tackles were literally flying in. Half those tackles would be yellows today and the other half straight reds. Some of the boys mentioned in this thread would go down under the merest of touches and wouldn't have survived 5 minutes in Best's day.
 

Red the Bear

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I remember watching one goal Ibrahimovic scored where he left 4 or 5 guys on the ground in the opposition penalty area before scoring. Most exciting dribbling goal I can remember.

As for consistent dribbling skills, got to go with Messi although I admit I never saw many of the old-timers mentioned in this thread.
 

TenonTen

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Really loved watching Ben Arfa dribble at Newcastle. The sheer talent that man had was insane. Unfortunately, now he's just a "streets will never forget type" alongside the likes of Michu and Taraabt.
 

Glorio

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In no particular order:

Ronaldinho
Jay Jay Okocha
Denilson
Messi
Maradona
 

amolbhatia50k

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Looking at that George Best video, remember he did all that while the tackles were literally flying in. Half those tackles would be yellows today and the other half straight reds. Some of the boys mentioned in this thread would go down under the merest of touches and wouldn't have survived 5 minutes in Best's day.
Some maybe. But the greats would excel in any era. They wouldn't shocked by tough tackling as they'd be used to it.

Also one does also benefit from defenders flying in making tackles as this is perfect for a dribbler to yet past his man.

I'll go with Messi but it means feck all given i haven't seen the past greats. But he's the best from the ones I've seen by a country mile.
 

Skills

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Maradonna without a shadow of a doubt. Do people realise how balls were different to 20 years later when Messi picked them up, who is a close 2nd to this award???
Modern balls punish a poor touch a lot more. Smaller margin for error
 

Kopral Jono

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My late grandfather saw them all, from Matthews to Messi, and I remember him saying it's a toss-up between Maradona and Best. But if you ask me from all the players I've seen, my answer would be probably be Messi but peak OG Ronaldo and Figo are definitely up there.
 

Gehrman

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Not the best ever, but Michael Laudrup was pure silk. He was a bit before my time but I remember watching a YouTube highlights vid of his and was blown away by just how good he was! He's got to be one of the most underrated or slept on players. I never hear anyone mention him.
I think it was keegan or Daglish back at the time who saw young M. Laudrup play and say he'd never seen any player blow past defenders with such ease as him.
 

KeanoMagicHat

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One of the best pure dribblers also, Dejan Savicevic


The way he glides and manipulated the ball was unreal. Gave United the runaround. Ferguson said he was the best player he'd seen at Old Trafford at the time.
 

Widow

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Looking at that George Best video, remember he did all that while the tackles were literally flying in. Half those tackles would be yellows today and the other half straight reds. Some of the boys mentioned in this thread would go down under the merest of touches and wouldn't have survived 5 minutes in Best's day.
It's absolutely Best!

Not only did he have to avoid people trying to break his legs, on a pitch that wasn't fit for farming nevermind football and with a ball that resembled medicine ball, he was also pissed during many games!

Glenn Hoddle: I saw Best walking to the changing room before kickoff and he was pissed as a fart. I told the lads he'll be to drunk to play.... Best scored a hattrick in a man of the match performance that day.
 

OpenIntrovert

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Best dribbler will certainly be Maradona, guy could dribble at speed, in close spaces, with tricks, and in any direction. Luis Ronaldo, Zidane, Ronaldinho, Jay Jay Okocha, Riquelme are some of many great dribblers.

Messi specializes in dribbling with acceleration in straight or semi straight directions, due to his strong dependency on his left foot. Unlike the players stated above, Messi only dribbles when he knows that there is space opening up between the defenders, the defenders are passive (not aggressively marking the spaces) and it is the best option for him (no other forward players who can make use of his passes). When the situation is against him (e.g. defenders marking the spaces aggressively or the direction is not straight enough for him to accelerate), he will typically pass to another player and then move into a lowly marked space so that he can try again. I would say that he is the most intelligent player of all time, since he knows when to dribble, when to pass etc. This is why his dribbling appears to be very good.

Messi's dominance happened at the same time where defenders became more of possession carriers with less focus on defensive attributes as well as playing around talent on the same level as him (Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Neymar, Suarez, Villa, Pedro, Etoo, Henry etc). The players that Barcelona had from 2009 to 2014 were able to create and exploit spaces for Messi while being equally good at dribbling and holding possession. That's why that Barca team under Pep and Enrique was so formidable. It is no coincidence that when most of those players left, Messi was not able to produce the same performances, though he was still able to perform as a finisher and creator. The Messi that we saw at PSG is another example of why his dribbling is no longer very effective, due to his decline in speed from post-COVID issues.
 

Lord SInister

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Best dribbler will certainly be Maradona, guy could dribble at speed, in close spaces, with tricks, and in any direction. Luis Ronaldo, Zidane, Ronaldinho, Jay Jay Okocha, Riquelme are some of many great dribblers.

Messi specializes in dribbling with acceleration in straight or semi straight directions, due to his strong dependency on his left foot. Unlike the players stated above, Messi only dribbles when he knows that there is space opening up between the defenders, the defenders are passive (not aggressively marking the spaces) and it is the best option for him (no other forward players who can make use of his passes). When the situation is against him (e.g. defenders marking the spaces aggressively or the direction is not straight enough for him to accelerate), he will typically pass to another player and then move into a lowly marked space so that he can try again. I would say that he is the most intelligent player of all time, since he knows when to dribble, when to pass etc. This is why his dribbling appears to be very good.

Messi's dominance happened at the same time where defenders became more of possession carriers with less focus on defensive attributes as well as playing around talent on the same level as him (Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Neymar, Suarez, Villa, Pedro, Etoo, Henry etc). The players that Barcelona had from 2009 to 2014 were able to create and exploit spaces for Messi while being equally good at dribbling and holding possession. That's why that Barca team under Pep and Enrique was so formidable. It is no coincidence that when most of those players left, Messi was not able to produce the same performances, though he was still able to perform as a finisher and creator. The Messi that we saw at PSG is another example of why his dribbling is no longer very effective, due to his decline in speed from post-COVID issues.

Messi was skinning the Chelseas of Jose Mourinho, Juve/Milans/Inter of 2000s and has dribbling records with Argentina. Or we are just looking at "hey he didn't scored a goal", so he must not have faired well" So I think to say his dribbling stats has to do much with his Pep/Enrique era teammates is simply making excuses to degrade him.
 

OpenIntrovert

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Messi was skinning the Chelseas of Jose Mourinho, Juve/Milans/Inter of 2000s and has dribbling records with Argentina. Or we are just looking at "hey he didn't scored a goal", so he must not have faired well" So I think to say his dribbling stats has to do much with his Pep/Enrique era teammates is simply making excuses to degrade him.
You might want to read both paragraphs before deciding prematurely that I am saying he is not good because he did not score a goal. I have observed him in many games and he does have weaknesses in the way he dribbles, just that his intelligence counters his weaknesses by knowing when to dribble and when not to. It also depends on the type of players around him, where he dribbles better when the players are able to open up spaces for him and are also very good at dribbling themselves.

If you still think Messi's dribbling is the best, then we can agree to disagree.
 

Gehrman

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Best dribbler will certainly be Maradona, guy could dribble at speed, in close spaces, with tricks, and in any direction. Luis Ronaldo, Zidane, Ronaldinho, Jay Jay Okocha, Riquelme are some of many great dribblers.

Messi specializes in dribbling with acceleration in straight or semi straight directions, due to his strong dependency on his left foot. Unlike the players stated above, Messi only dribbles when he knows that there is space opening up between the defenders, the defenders are passive (not aggressively marking the spaces) and it is the best option for him (no other forward players who can make use of his passes). When the situation is against him (e.g. defenders marking the spaces aggressively or the direction is not straight enough for him to accelerate), he will typically pass to another player and then move into a lowly marked space so that he can try again. I would say that he is the most intelligent player of all time, since he knows when to dribble, when to pass etc. This is why his dribbling appears to be very good.

Messi's dominance happened at the same time where defenders became more of possession carriers with less focus on defensive attributes as well as playing around talent on the same level as him (Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Neymar, Suarez, Villa, Pedro, Etoo, Henry etc). The players that Barcelona had from 2009 to 2014 were able to create and exploit spaces for Messi while being equally good at dribbling and holding possession. That's why that Barca team under Pep and Enrique was so formidable. It is no coincidence that when most of those players left, Messi was not able to produce the same performances, though he was still able to perform as a finisher and creator. The Messi that we saw at PSG is another example of why his dribbling is no longer very effective, due to his decline in speed from post-COVID issues.
Messi's dribling prime was actually pre pep. As regards to his latter years. Age takes it toll.

 

LawCharltonBest

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From old clips, George Best in his peak would take some beating. The ball seemed to glue itself to his foot.
 

Andrade

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I remember watching one goal Ibrahimovic scored where he left 4 or 5 guys on the ground in the opposition penalty area before scoring. Most exciting dribbling goal I can remember.

As for consistent dribbling skills, got to go with Messi although I admit I never saw many of the old-timers mentioned in this thread.
That was a goal Ibra scored for Ajax.
 

Andrade

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John Barnes, erm Peter Beardsley.....
Both really good actually. People don't realise how amazing John Barnes was in the late 80s before his knees got messed up. Best player in the country by far and one of the best in Europe. A shame that his peak Liverpool side never got to play in Europe.
 

Red the Bear

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Both really good actually. People don't realise how amazing John Barnes was in the late 80s before his knees got messed up. Best player in the country by far and one of the best in Europe. A shame that his peak Liverpool side never got to play in Europe.
A shame???
 

Dumbstar

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I can't believe I didn't appreciate R9 more back then. Shame he was always injured or I couldn't get a fecking Sky dish. And of course the internet was a pipe dream in the mid 90s.

If you watch Maradona he's fully focused on getting to the ball first on every touch of his dribble but by the fourth or the fifth challenge he's always gearing his body up for a potential two-footed, high, career ending 'tackle' each time. The things he had to process in his brain while moving his feet and body around were phenomenal. I remember watching his runs hoping no cnut would end his career right in front of my eyes. Thankfully no cnut was able to. Messi would have been broken in two at the age of 18 back then.

Why is Gazza not on here? He was pure silk.
 

KeanoMagicHat

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Best dribbler will certainly be Maradona, guy could dribble at speed, in close spaces, with tricks, and in any direction. Luis Ronaldo, Zidane, Ronaldinho, Jay Jay Okocha, Riquelme are some of many great dribblers.

Messi specializes in dribbling with acceleration in straight or semi straight directions, due to his strong dependency on his left foot. Unlike the players stated above, Messi only dribbles when he knows that there is space opening up between the defenders, the defenders are passive (not aggressively marking the spaces) and it is the best option for him (no other forward players who can make use of his passes). When the situation is against him (e.g. defenders marking the spaces aggressively or the direction is not straight enough for him to accelerate), he will typically pass to another player and then move into a lowly marked space so that he can try again. I would say that he is the most intelligent player of all time, since he knows when to dribble, when to pass etc. This is why his dribbling appears to be very good.

Messi's dominance happened at the same time where defenders became more of possession carriers with less focus on defensive attributes as well as playing around talent on the same level as him (Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Neymar, Suarez, Villa, Pedro, Etoo, Henry etc). The players that Barcelona had from 2009 to 2014 were able to create and exploit spaces for Messi while being equally good at dribbling and holding possession. That's why that Barca team under Pep and Enrique was so formidable. It is no coincidence that when most of those players left, Messi was not able to produce the same performances, though he was still able to perform as a finisher and creator. The Messi that we saw at PSG is another example of why his dribbling is no longer very effective, due to his decline in speed from post-COVID issues.
There's nothing unusual that Messi would lose his speed and agility and be a better dribbler when he was younger, that's the case for nearly all great footballers and he is 35 now after all. At 35, Maradona was plodding around a few times a year for Boca Juniors. Maradona is best remembered for the dribbling he did in the 1986 World Cup when he was 25, Messi was 25 in 2012, which was well within the timeframe you mentioned. Even by 1990 World Cup, Maradona had slowed down a little bit and was still great at dribbling but pace is pace and it's hard to get that explosiveness again. I don't think it was so much a tactical thing as just getting older.

Same with Best, Best won the Ballon d'Or at 22 and most of his dribbling highlights are from 20-25, he had the odd highlight but was reported a shell of his former self from his late 20s.
 

Ramos

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Seeing Ibra's goal in the Eredivisie again, reminded me of this goal by Mousa Dembele.

Easy to forget how good he was at that before he got turned into a central midfielder.

 

troylocker

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Messi is heads and shoulders above giggs. Especially both in their dribbling prime. And Giggs is my favourite ever player.
How anyone can have Giggs on a GOAT dribbler list is crazy. In recent times Zidane, R9 (a literal nutmeg machine) and Ronaldinho should be on most top 5 lists together with Messi and Maradona. I think Bergkamp gets to few mentions here too.

I'm a young lad in my late 40s so can't say I've watched Garrincha, Best and the other oldies enough to put them on any list. Really can't understand how anyone under 60 can put Best on a list or anyone under 80 can mention Garrincha really....
 

Red the Bear

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How anyone can have Giggs on a GOAT dribbler list is crazy. In recent times Zidane, R9 (a literal nutmeg machine) and Ronaldinho should be on most top 5 lists together with Messi and Maradona. I think Bergkamp gets to few mentions here too.

I'm a young lad in my late 40s so can't say I've watched Garrincha, Best and the other oldies enough to put them on any list. Really can't understand how anyone under 60 can put Best on a list or anyone under 80 can mention Garrincha really....
Why not?
If you rewatch the world cup matches (the ones that we have recordings of at least ) does get someone a good assement most of the time.
Also their achievements speaks for itself.