Soccer, a game of passion and skill, has seen some of the greatest players grace the field. But not all of them have hit the top of their careers. Some soccer players have the unfortunate reputation of being the worst soccer players.
This article explores the 20 worst soccer players of all time, shedding light on those who have struggled. From the lowest-rated players to those who never managed to score a goal, we’ll delve into the stories that make these players stand out in a way they likely wish they didn’t.
20 Worst Soccer Players of All Time
In soccer, where stars shine bright, there are players whose careers have been marked by underachievement and failure.
This article provides insight into 20 such players, highlighting their struggles, inconsistencies, and reasons that have led them to be categorized among the worst soccer players ever.
1. Richard Dunne
Inconsistency and disciplinary issues characterized Richard Dunne’s career. He never won a major trophy while playing for clubs like Everton, Manchester City, Aston Villa, and QPR. His positioning was often misused, and he was sent off eight times in the Premier League. Despite winning Manchester City’s Player of the Year award four times, he faced periods of poor form. Dunne holds the record for the most own goals in the Premier League, and injuries and a lack of success with the Republic of Ireland contributed to his perceived lack of success.
Richard Dunne’s Career Statistics
- Everton (1996–2000): 60 appearances, 0 goals
- Manchester City (2000–2009): 296 appearances, 7 goals
- Aston Villa (2009–2013): 95 appearances, 4 goals
- Queens Park Rangers (2013–2015): 64 appearances, 1 goal
- Total: 515 appearances, 12 goals
- International Career (Republic of Ireland): 80 appearances, 8 goals
2. Bojan Krkić
Bojan Krkić’s career began with promise but failed to follow the expected path. Despite breaking Messi’s record at Barcelona, his performance declined over time. Frequent transfers, loans, injuries, and mental health issues affected his development and confidence. Often compared to great players like Messi, he failed to live up to high expectations, leading to a perception of failure.
- Barcelona B: 2006–2007, 22 appearances, 10 goals
- Barcelona: 2007–2011, 104 appearances, 26 goals
- Roma: 2011–2013, 33 appearances, 7 goals
- Milan (loan): 2012–2013, 19 appearances, 3 goals
- Ajax (loan): 2013–2014, 24 appearances, 4 goals
- Stoke City: 2014–2019, 74 appearances, 15 goals
- Mainz 05 (loan): 2016–2017, 11 appearances, 1 goal
- Alavés (loan): 2017–2018, 13 appearances, 0 goals
- Montreal Impact: 2019–2020, 25 appearances, 7 goals
- Vissel Kobe: 2021–2023, 20 appearances, 1 goal
- Total: 345 appearances, 74 goals
Tiago Manuel Dias Correia, better known as Bebé, is a professional soccer player who plays as a winger for Spanish La Liga club Rayo Vallecano and the Cape Verde national team. Bebé’s career has been both promising and challenging since her birth on July 12, 1990, in Portugal.
Inconsistent performances and frequent transfers characterized Bebé’s career. Injuries and off-field issues, like a cruciate ligament injury and breaking team curfew, impacted his career. The high-profile transfer to Manchester United and associated expectations may have affected his confidence and performance, leading to a perception of failure.
- Estrela da Amadora (2009-2010): 26 matches, 4 goals
- Manchester United (2010-2014): 2 matches, 0 goals
- Beşiktaş (loan, 2011-2012): 4 matches, 0 goals
- Rio Ave (loan, 2012-2013): 17 matches, 1 goal
- Paços de Ferreira (loan, 2013-2014): 27 matches, 12 goals
- Benfica (2014-2016): 1 match, 0 goals
- Córdoba (loan, 2014-2015): 18 matches, 0 goals
- Rayo Vallecano (loan, 2015-2016): 34 matches, 3 goals
- Eibar (2016-2018): 31 matches, 3 goals
- Rayo Vallecano (2018-2023): 98 matches, 11 goals
- Zaragoza (loan, 2022-2023): 16 matches, 4 goals
4. Gabriel Obertan
Gabriel Antoine Obertan (born 26 February 1989) is a French professional soccer player who is a winger for USL League One side Charlotte Independence. Numerous injuries, inconsistency, and limited opportunities hindered Gabriel Obertan’s career. He struggled to maintain form, particularly at Manchester United and Newcastle United. He often found himself as a substitute or out of the squad, but his chances to prove himself were limited, contributing to his unsuccessful career.
- Consistency and Form
- Limited Opportunities
- Bordeaux (2006–2009): Obertan started his professional career with Bordeaux, making 54 appearances and scoring 3 goals.
- Manchester United (2009–2011): He joined Manchester United but struggled with injuries and form, making 14 appearances without scoring.
- Newcastle United (2011–2016): At Newcastle, he made 58 appearances and scored 2 goals but faced criticism from fans.
- Other Clubs: Obertan also played for Anzhi Makhachkala, Wigan Athletic, Levski Sofia, Erzurumspor, and Charlotte Independence, with varying degrees of success.
5. Freddy Adu
Freddy Adu, born on June 2, 1989, in Ghana, is a professional soccer player who played as an attacking midfielder and forward. He was once hailed as “the next Pelé” but became a journeyman, playing for fifteen teams in nine countries. Freddy Adu’s career declined due to inconsistent development, lack of stability, physical and mental fitness issues, and unrealistic expectations. His early entry into professional soccer may have hindered his growth, and playing for fifteen different teams indicates a lack of stability.
|2007||Real Salt Lake||1|
|2011||Çaykur Rizespor (loan)||3|
|2015–2016||Tampa Bay Rowdies||0|
|2018||Las Vegas Lights||1|
6. Massimo Taibi
Massimo Taibi, born on February 18, 1970, in Palermo, Italy, is a retired professional soccer player who played as a goalkeeper for several clubs in Italy’s Serie A, B, and C1, including a brief spell at English club Manchester United.
Massimo Taibi’s career was characterized by errors at crucial times, a brief stint in the Premier League, inconsistent play, and high expectations. He made some significant mistakes during his brief time at Manchester United and only made four appearances. The £4.5 million transfer created high expectations, contributing to his reputation as an unsuccessful player.
- Mistakes at Crucial Moments
- Short Stint in Premier League
- Inconsistent Performance
- High Expectations
7. Ali Dia
Ali Dia, born on August 20, 1965, in Dakar, Senegal, is a former professional soccer player who was a striker. His career is most famously known for a hoax that led to a brief stint with Southampton in the English Premier League.
Ali Dia’s career is known for a hoax that led to a brief stint with Southampton. His lack of skill was evident, and he was substituted out of the game he was subbed into. Dia had failed trials at several clubs, and his brief and unremarkable career and his reputation as a fraud contributed to his unsuccessful career.
- Lack of Skill
- Failed Trials
- Reputation as a Fraud
8. Boško Balaban
Boško Balaban, born on October 15, 1978, in Rijeka, Croatia, is a retired Croatian soccer player who played as a striker. His career spanned various clubs, but his time at Aston Villa in the Premier League stands out as a significant failure.
|2002–2003||Dinamo Zagreb (loan)||15|
Boško Balaban’s time at Aston Villa was a disaster, failing to justify his £5.8 million transfer fee. He made just nine appearances without scoring a goal. Despite success elsewhere, his failure at Aston Villa overshadowed his other achievements, and he is often cited as one of the worst Premier League signings.
- Lack of Opportunity
- Success Elsewhere
9. Nikola Jovanović
Nikola Jovanović, born on September 18, 1952, in Cetinje, Montenegro, is a retired Montenegrin soccer player who was a defender. He is known for being the first player from outside the British Isles to join Manchester United.
Nikola Jovanović’s career was short-lived at Manchester United, marked by injury and failure to adapt to English soccer. Choosing Manchester United over other prestigious clubs like Bayern Munich may have impacted his career trajectory. His failure at the club overshadowed his historical significance as Manchester United’s first non-British Isles player to sign.
- Short-lived Time at Manchester United
- Rejection of Other Offers
- Injury-Plagued Career
- Failure to Adapt
10. Royston Drenthe
Royston Ricky Drenthe, born on April 8, 1987, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, is a Dutch soccer player who has played for various clubs and the Netherlands national team. Primarily a left-winger, he has also played as a left-back.
- Feyenoord: 29 appearances, 0 goals
- Real Madrid: 46 appearances, 2 goals
- Hércules (loan): 17 appearances, 4 goals
- Everton (loan): 21 appearances, 3 goals
- Alania Vladikavkaz: 6 appearances, 3 goals
- Reading: 23 appearances, 2 goals
- Sheffield Wednesday (loan): 15 appearances, 1 goal
- Kayseri Erciyesspor: 11 appearances, 3 goals
- Baniyas: 18 appearances, 0 goals
- Sparta Rotterdam: 32 appearances, 5 goals
- Kozakken Boys: 10 appearances, 3 goals
- Racing Murcia: 28 appearances, 9 goals
- Real Murcia (loan): 9 appearances, 0 goals
- Career total: 261 appearances, 35 goals
Royston Drenthe’s career has seen both highs and lows, from playing at Real Madrid to facing a hiatus from professional soccer. His versatility in positioning as a left-winger and left-back demonstrates flexibility but may have contributed to his mixed career trajectory. His success at the U21 level contrasts with limited opportunities with the senior national team.
11. Salif Diao
Salif Alassane Diao, born on February 10, 1977, in Kédougou, Senegal, is a retired professional soccer player who was a defensive midfielder. His career was characterized by a lack of consistency, struggles with injuries, and poor decisions. Despite showing promise, he failed to make an impact at Liverpool and often played out of position. His career was revived at Stoke City, but overall, he failed to live up to the expectations following his impressive 2002 World Cup with Senegal.
Matches and Goals
12. Ade Akinbiyi
Adeola Oluwatoyin Akinbiyi, born on October 10, 1974, in Hackney, England, is a retired professional soccer player who played as a forward.
Over £11.5 million worth of transfers marked Ade Akinbiyi’s career. Despite a successful club career, he only represented Nigeria once. His constant movement between various clubs in the Premier League and lower divisions may have hindered his ability to settle and develop at a single club, contributing to his perception as an unsuccessful player.
13. Claus Lundekvam
Claus Lundekvam, born on February 22, 1973, in Austevoll, Norway, is a retired professional soccer player who played as a centre-back.
There wasn’t much success in Claus Lundekvam’s playing career. Despite having a long career at Southampton, injuries plagued him, and a serious ankle injury forced him to retire in 2008. He was part of Southampton’s best season since the 1980s, but they lost the FA Cup final to Arsenal, adding to his unsuccessful career.
14. Pascal Cygan
Pascal Cygan’s career spanned 17 years, playing for clubs like Lille, Arsenal, Villarreal, and Cartagena. He made 344 appearances and scored 15 goals. Despite winning the Premier League with Arsenal in 2003–04, Cygan’s career was marked by inconsistent performances. He was mostly a fringe player at Arsenal and lacked first-team opportunities at Villarreal. His time at Cartagena in Spain’s second division marked the end of his career. Cygan’s inconsistency and lack of significant impact at top-level soccer led to his perception as an unsuccessful player, despite moments of success with Lille and Arsenal.
15. David N’Gog
David N’Gog played as a striker for various clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, and Bolton Wanderers. His career saw him move between different leagues and countries, possibly affecting his ability to settle and perform. His goal-scoring record was modest, contributing to the perception that he needed to be more successful. Factors like inconsistent performance, injuries, and not fitting into certain teams’ playing styles might have hindered his success, especially considering the expectations during his time at prominent clubs like Liverpool.
16. Ousmane Dabo
Ousmane Dabo’s career included stints with big clubs like Inter Milan and Manchester City. However, he never secured a regular first-team spot. Frequent club changes, inconsistent performance, and a poor goal-scoring record characterized his career. Injuries and a confrontation with teammate Joey Barton at Manchester City further affected his career. Despite playing for renowned clubs, Dabo’s inability to make a significant impact led to his perception as an unsuccessful player.
17. Titus Bramble
Titus Bramble’s career was characterized by inconsistency and defensive mistakes. His £6 million transfer to Newcastle fell short of expectations, and his time there was troubled by mistakes. Off-field legal troubles might have affected his focus and performance. Despite earning ‘Player of the Year’ at Wigan Athletic, his reputation as an underachiever persisted, leading to his inclusion in the list of worst soccer players.
18. Bruno Cheyrou
Bruno Cheyrou’s career started with promise at Lille but failed to live up to expectations at Liverpool. Dubbed the “new Zidane,” he struggled with inconsistency and a lack of impact. His failure to meet high expectations led to a perception of him as an unsuccessful player. His inability to replicate his early success with Lille at other clubs cemented this perception.
19. Eric Djemba-Djemba
Eric Djemba-Djemba’s career was characterized by inconsistent play, a lack of goals, frequent transfers, and unrealized potential. He struggled at Manchester United and continued to face challenges at other clubs. Personal challenges, including bankruptcy, may have affected his focus and performance. His career serves as a reminder that talent alone is not enough to succeed at the highest level.
20. Fábio Coentrão
Fábio Coentrão played for clubs like Rio Ave, Benfica, and Real Madrid. His versatility allowed him to play in multiple positions, contributing to his success at both club and international levels. He won titles with Real Madrid and represented Portugal in two World Cups. After retiring from professional soccer, Coentrão became a shipowner fisherman. His career is unique, reflecting his connection to his roots and perspective on life after soccer. Unlike the others, Coentrão’s career is not typically viewed as unsuccessful.
Summing Up on Worst Soccer Players of All Time
In the world of soccer, where greatness is honoured, there is a group that history needs to be more kind to. Even though they worked hard, these players faced the harsh light of not doing well enough. From inconsistent play and injuries to not meeting standards and not reaching their full potential, their stories show how hard it can be to be a professional athlete. Through this list, we can see how complicated the beautiful game is. Even in the middle of victories, the shadows of defeat are always there.
Faqs on Worst Soccer Players of All Time
Who is the Worst Soccer Player in the World
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea’s goalkeeper, ranks as the worst in the Premier League. Analyzed using “post shot xG” models, Kepa has conceded almost 6 more goals than expected, making him the lowest-ranked. This statistical analysis reflects his inability to prevent goals that other goalkeepers would typically save.
Though some argue that he may be going through a rough patch, his status as the most expensive goalkeeper in history brings high expectations. His current underperformance, coupled with the pressure of his price tag and consistent failure in crucial matches, have contributed to his reputation as the worst soccer player in the world. His failure to meet expectations has led to speculation about his future in the transfer market, further emphasizing his decline.
Who is the Lowest Rated Soccer Player in the World?
Devansh Dabas, a 21-year-old back-up goalkeeper for Chennaiyin, holds the unfortunate title of being the worst-rated player in FIFA 23, with an overall rating of just 46. Despite his young age, Dabas has become synonymous with the lowest echelons of the game, a position no player aspires to.
What is Messi’s Lowest Rating?
Lionel Messi, a name synonymous with excellence in soccer, has only sometimes enjoyed high ratings. In 2005, when EA Sports released FIFA 06, Messi was given a rating of only 78, a surprisingly low figure for a player of his caliber. Since then, Messi’s stock has only risen, entering the 90 ratings with FIFA 09 and staying above that mark ever since.
Is Anyone Rated 100 in FIFA?
In the 26-year history of FIFA’s video game franchise, a 100-rated card has been awarded for the first time. Adebayo Akinfenwa, also known as “The Beast,” a striker for Wycombe Wanderers, was awarded this special 100-rated card. This unique card was given to Akinfenwa as a gift to celebrate his achievement of reaching 1 million followers on Instagram. Although the card is not playable in the game, it symbolizes Akinfenwa’s status as one of the strongest soccer players in the world.
Is There a Player Who Has Never Scored a Goal?
Yes, some players have never scored a goal in their entire career. Here are some notable examples:
- Jorge Titonell: An Argentinian player who played between 1931 and 1946 without scoring a goal in 405 matches.
- Tony Hibbert: An English player who retired in 2016 without scoring a single goal in 265 appearances.
- Luis Cuartero: A Spanish player who never scored a goal in 178 matches.
- Carlos Kaiser: A striker who never scored a goal during his 25-year career across nine soccer clubs.
- Luigi Perversi: An Italian player who never scored a goal in 318 appearances.
- Frank Womack is an English player who has yet to score a goal in 500 soccer tournament appearances.