Spain has consistently produced some of the game’s best players throughout recorded history. It is a country with the top two clubs in the world; it is only natural that native players are brought up through the best academy systems and placed in the world’s top leagues.
Even before Spain’s golden age, the country had produced some of the greatest players of all time. Players have come and gone, never tasting international glory but putting their country in the spotlight with their individual brilliance.
This article examines the 14 greatest Spanish footballers of all time. Individual abilities and accolades, as well as collective achievements, are taken into account.
#14 Xabi Alonso
Between 2008 and 2012, Xabi Alonso was a key figure in Spain’s success.
The graceful midfielder appeared in all three tournaments, though he only started one match at Euro 2008 under Luis Aragones, coming off the bench in the semi-final and final as La Roja won their first silverware since 1964.
Alonso went on to play a larger role under Vicente del Bosque, cementing his place in Spain’s magnificent midfield as the country won the World Cup in 2010 and the Euros in 2012.
The former Real Sociedad, Liverpool, and Real Madrid midfielder went on to play 114 times for Spain, scoring 16 goals, two of which came in Spain’s 2-0 quarter-final victory over France at Euro 2012.
#13 Zarra Telmo
Telmo Zarra’s place in the pantheon of Spanish greats is firmly secured, as evidenced by the creation of the Zarra trophy in 2006, which is awarded to the highest Spanish goalscorer in La Liga.
His La Liga and Copa Del Rey records are the most well-known statistics associated with him, with the former lasting a staggering 59 years.
He spent the majority of his career with Athletic Bilbao, and while he may not be mentioned in debates about the all-time greats, he was and will remain the greatest in at least one corner of Spain.
#12 Pique Gerard
Gerard Pique divides opinion in Spanish football, but his contribution to La Roja’s golden era is undeniable.
At the 2010 World Cup, the Catalan center-back transferred his excellent partnership with Barcelona teammate Carles Puyol to the international level, and he was also excellent alongside Sergio Ramos at Euro 2012.
Later in his career, he was frequently chastised for his perceived pro-independence views for Catalonia (though he has never come out in favor, only calling for the right to choose) and his outspoken views on Real Madrid.
But he remained a key player until his international retirement in 2018, and he has been sorely missed since then. He played 102 times for Spain, scoring five goals, and was an integral part of Barcelona’s greatest era.
#11 Busquets Sergio
He is possibly the most underappreciated player of his generation. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a defensive midfielder. He is the epitome of a player who is quiet in nature but allows his work on the field to speak for itself.
He is best known for his ball possession and ability to withstand pressure, as well as his incredible passing skills.
He was a key member of the Barcelona and Spain midfield that dominated world football for the past decade. He has won numerous domestic titles, as well as three Champions Leagues, two European Championships, and a World Cup.
#10 Ramos Sergio
Sergio Ramos’ last two seasons (at Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain) have been cut short due to injuries, but the center-back has had an impressive career for both club and country.
The 36-year-old is an inspirational defender who has made a record 180 appearances for La Roja, scoring 23 goals.
Ramos played right-back for Spain at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup before moving into the center of defense for Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho and appearing for his country ever since.
He has 131 victories for Spain and is the country’s eighth-highest scorer, in addition to his record number of caps. He will now hope to demonstrate his fitness in time for the World Cup later this year.
#9 Silva David
A statue of the Manchester City legend already stands outside the Etihad Stadium. That demonstrates how powerful Siva is. He is, without a doubt, one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time.
Silva was a key City team member that won the Premier League for the first time in 2011/2012. The astute midfielder was well-known for his passing and playmaking abilities.
El Mago won a World Cup, two European Championships, and four Premier Leagues during his illustrious career.
#8 Puyol Carles
Carles Puyol always gave his all for club and country, and the center-back was crucial to the late-career success of both Barcelona and Spain.
The defender led Spain’s defense at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, and he was named to the Tournament Team on both occasions.
La Roja conceded only two goals in South Africa, and he headed the game-winning goal against Germany in the semi-finals.
He missed the Euros in 2012 due to injury, but he played 100 times for Spain and scored three goals.
Raul Gonzalez was widely regarded as the greatest player in Spanish history for many years.
The former Real Madrid striker played for Spain for a decade and went on to become the country’s leading scorer, with 44 goals in 102 appearances.
However, his international career was cut short when coach Luis Aragones decided that Raul’s presence would cause more harm than good if he did not play.
Aragones was vindicated when Spain finally won a trophy in 2008, and Raul did not return under Vicente del Bosque, missing out on the glory years of La Roja. But he remains a legend for Los Blancos and one of the best players to wear the famous red shirt.
#6 Torres Fernando
At his best, “El Ninho” was a complete number nine who could do it all. He is remembered as the youngster who blazed his way through the Atletico Madrid youth system.
Torres was simply unstoppable during his time at Liverpool FC. In his prime, he was one of the most lethal finishers, capable of scoring with both his feet and his head.
His greatest strengths are his speed, deception, and work rate. His most notable accomplishments include winning the World Cup in 2010, the Euros in 2008 and 2012, and the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012.
#5 Luis Suarez
No, this is not the Uruguayan Luis Suarez we’re all familiar with. During the 1960s, the legendary Spaniard was one of the best-attacking midfielders in the world. He has played for Barcelona, Inter Milan, and the Spanish national team. He won two La Liga titles and three Serie A titles in Italy.
With Internazionale, he also won two European Cups. Luis Suarez was also a member of Spain’s Euro 1964 victory. He also won the highly coveted Balon d’Or in 1960, solidifying his place as one of the best of his generation.
#4 Villa David
Luis Aragones’ decision to leave Raul out of the national team benefited David Villa the most.
The Asturian attacker took the number 7 shirt and went on to become La Roja’s all-time leading scorer, with 59 goals in 98 appearances.
Four of those came at Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, with five more coming at the 2010 World Cup, where Villa was instrumental in Spain’s success.
The former Valencia, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid striker went missing in Poland and Ukraine two years later due to injury and retired from international duty in 2014, only to return briefly in 2017.
#3 Casillas Iker
Iker Casillas is a Real Madrid and Spain legend after an incredible career for club and country.
The goalkeeper, who retired in 2020 after suffering a mild heart attack while playing for Porto, captained La Roja throughout their dominant period of success from 2008 to 2012.
Even when questioned, Casillas had a knack for saving his team in critical situations, earning him the moniker San Iker (Saint Iker).
His save to deny Arjen Robben in the 2010 World Cup final is perhaps the most famous of all those moments, and he played a significant role in his country’s victories. He won 167 caps in total, a record only recently surpassed by former Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos, and kept over 100 clean sheets.
“Honestly, I don’t have to use many words to say how good he is; the results are there for all to see,” said Italy’s great Gianluigi Buffon of Casillas.
“He has won everything there is to win and has maintained the same high level for many years, which is possibly the most difficult task for a goalkeeper. Casillas is the main reason Spain almost never concedes goals.”
#2 Iniesta Andres
Andres Iniesta is widely regarded as the best central midfielder in the game’s history. The maestro won everything and is one of the most decorated players in history.
He is the only player to have won Man of the Match awards in the Champions League, Uefa Euros, and World Cup finals. Talk about being a “big game player!”
His countrymen will remember him for scoring the game-winning overtime goal against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final, which gave Spain its first major title. His achievements with his childhood club FC Barcelona must not be overlooked.
He was instrumental in the Catalan club, winning nine La Liga titles, seven Spanish Super Cups, six Copa Del Reys, four Champions League titles, and three Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cups.
Iniesta was a magician in terms of pure talent. The fact that he came within a whisker of winning the 2010 Ballon d’Or, losing only to arguably the greatest player of all time, Lionel Messi, demonstrates how good he was. He will be remembered as one of the greatest football artists of all time.
Everything changed for Barcelona and Spain in 2008, and Xavi was at the center of the club’s and country’s resurgence.
Following some major disappointments, Spain coach Luis Aragones chose a different style of play for Euro 2008, and Xavi became the heartbeat of La Roja’s passing and possession philosophy.
That continued for the next four years under Vicente del Bosque and evolved at the club level, where Xavi was Pep Guardiola’s leader on the pitch. Everything passed through him, and he improved everything.
“I knew he would become the brain behind Barcelona for many years to come from the first moment I saw him play,” Guardiola said of Xavi.
Del Bosque once stated that he was “more important than the coach,” Argentina legend Jorge Valdano said, adding, “If football were a science, Xavi would have discovered the formula.” No one else has ever communicated so intelligently with every player on the field while holding a ball.”
In 133 games for Spain, Xavi scored 13 goals. In his incredible 17-year career at Barcelona, where he is now the coach, he also won 25 trophies.
Do you agree with our list? Tell us in the comments what do you think.