Throughout its history, the German men’s soccer team has had lots of success on the international level. Throughout their history, they have won four World Cups and three UEFA European Championship titles. In order to win all of these trophies, lots of individually talented players are needed. Below, the six best German men’s soccer players are ranked and discussed.
Who Are the Best German Soccer Players Ever?
- Gerd Müller
- Franz Beckenbauer
- Miroslav Klose
- Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
- Lothar Matthäus
- Sepp Maier
1. Gerd Müller
- 608 career goals at the club level
- 68 career goals for Germany
- 1970 European Footballer of the Year
One of the greatest soccer players of all time, Gerd Müller stands out amongst all other German soccer players. Müller spent the majority of his club career playing for Bayern Munich (1964-1979) while also spending time with Nordlingen (1963-1964), the FL Strikers (1979-1981), and the Smith Brothers (1981-1982). Between those four clubs, Müller scored an outstanding 608 career goals. This ranks him in the top ten all-time of all players. For Germany, Müller scored 68 goals in just 62 matches, ranking second all-time for Germany behind Miroslav Klose. As for team success, Müller led Bayern Munich to four Bundesliga titles and helped Germany to the 1974 World Cup title.
2. Franz Beckenbauer
- 74 career club goals scored
- 14 career goals scored for Germany
- Two European Footballer of the Year Awards
A longtime teammate of Gerd Müller for both Bayern Munich and Germany, Franz Beckenbauer is considered one of the greatest defenders of all time. He was with Bayern Munich from 1964-1977 before spending time with the New York Cosmos (1977-1980, 1982-1983) and Hamburger SV (1980-1982) at the end of his career. He is credited with revolutionizing the modern-day sweeper position and anchored Germany’s defense for years. Despite primarily playing defense, he did manage to score 74 goals at the club level and 14 for Germany throughout his career. Alongside Müller, he helped Bayern Munich to four Bundesliga titles and Germany to the 1974 World Cup triumph.
3. Miroslav Klose
- 71 career goals scored for Germany (record)
- 258 goals scored for his clubs
- 16 World Cup goals scored (record)
The man who holds both the career scoring record for Germany and the career World Cup scoring record for any player is Miroslav Klose. Klose’s 71 career goals for Germany and his 16 goals at the World Cup both represent all-time marks. Additionally, he managed 258 career club goals while primarily playing for 1. FC K’lautern (2000-2004), Werder Bremen (2004-2007), Bayern Munich (2007-2011), and Lazio (2011-2016). His most outstanding team accomplishment was leading Germany to the 2014 World Cup title. Incredibly, he managed to win first, second, and third place at the World Cup during his career. Just as amazingly, Germany never lost a match in which he scored.
4. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
- 45 goals scored for Germany
- Two-time Ballon d’Or winner
- 294 career club goals
Another prolific goal scorer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge takes the next spot on this list. Like many of the great German players over the years, Rummenigge played the majority of his club career with Bayern Munich from 1974-1984. He would go on to play for Inter Milan (1984-1987) and Servette FC (1987-1990) before retiring. In all, he scored 294 career goals between those three clubs, and he won two Ballon d’Or Awards for being the best player in the world in 1980 and 1981. With Germany, he scored 45 career goals, including 9 in World Cup play. He led Germany to runner-up finishes at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, as well as victory at the 1980 European championship.
5. Lothar Matthäus
- 202 career club goals
- 23 goals for Germany
- 1990 World Cup Champion
Lothar Matthäus was a defensive midfielder who also had a knack for putting the ball in the back of the net. At the club level, he spent time with six clubs over 21 professional seasons, netting 202 goals in 782 matches during that time. He helped his teams win eight league titles in all, seven in the Bundesliga and one in Serie A. With Germany, he scored 23 goals in a team-record 150 career appearances. He also holds the record for most World Cup matches played all-time with 25. His most impactful moment with Germany was leading them to the World Cup title in 1990, defeating all-time great Diego Maradona and Argentina in the final.
6. Sepp Maier
- 1974 World Cup Champion
- Four-time Bundesliga champion
- 262 career clean sheets between club and country
One of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Sepp Maier takes the final spot on this list. He was the goalkeeper for Germany in 1974 when he led them to the World Cup title alongside Gerd Müller and Franz Beckenbauer. During that tournament run, Maier kept four clean sheets in seven matches played. In all, throughout his German career, he kept 43 clean sheets in 95 matches. At the club level, he spent the entirety of his career with Bayern Munich from 1962-1980. During those nineteen seasons, he kept 219 clean sheets in 705 matches and helped Bayern Munich to four Bundesliga titles.
- Michael Ballack
- Oliver Kahn
- Phillip Lahm
- Thomas Müller
- Gunther Netzer
- Manuel Neuer
- Matthias Sammer
- Bastian Schweinsteiger
- Uwe Seeler
- Fritz Walter