Argentine players dominate the list occupying the first two places.
Dribbling in soccer defines a player’s ability to control the ball, run and his environment. A good dribbler can be of great value to the team because a good dribbler attracts opposing players with his runs freeing other teammates and thus creating space. There are many players who can dribble the ball against opponents, but only some can dribble both in quantity and quality. Having such players on your teams gives you an added advantage over the opposing side.
The data is from 1966 onwards. Data is credited to SofaScore.com.
Let’s look at the 10 players with the most dribbles in World Cup history.
10. Angel Di Maria
Dribbling – 44
The Argentine winger occupies tenth place on the list with 44 dribbles in his World Cup stage that began in 2010. He is an important part of the squad and, along with Messi, is responsible for the Argentine attack.
Dribbling – 44
The Italian and interista midfielder has played in three World Cups (1966, 1970 and 1974). He has 44 dribbles to his name. He reached the final of the World Cup in 1970 only to be defeated by Pele-led Brazil in the match.
8. Roberto Donadoni
Dribbling – 47
The Italian international was part of the Italy squad at the World Cup in 1990 and 1994. Roberto Donadoni made 47 dribbles during his World Cup career. He is a unique midfielder and was able to play in all midfield positions, be it left, right or center. He reached the World Cup final in 1994, but was again defeated by Brazil in the final.
7. Gheorghe Hagi
Dribbling – 53
Considered the best Romanian player of all time, Hagi was called “The Maradona of the Carpathians”. He registered 53 dribbles in three World Cups (1990, 1994 and 1998). He was part of the Romanian team that eliminated Argentina in the round of 16 of the 1994 World Cup.
Dribbling – 56
The Dutch and Bayern Munich legend is on the list of 56 dribblers at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups. He was an important player in the Dutch squad that reached the 2010 World Cup final and semi-finals in 2014. He was lethal with his cut and shots.
5. Mario Kempes
Dribbling – 61
The Argentine legend won the country’s first World Cup title in 1978. Kempes was a phenomenal center forward. He played in three world cups in 1974, 1978 and 1982. He has 61 dribbles to his name in his world cup career.
4. Peril of Eden
Dribbling – 65
The Stamford Bridge dribbler has shown his dribbling skills on the World Cup stage. The Belgian captain has played in three World Cups (2014, 2018 and 2022) having recorded 65 dribbles so far. At one point in his career, he was considered one of the best dribblers around, but things are not looking good, especially after Belgium‘s elimination from the World Cup in the group stage.
Trends in world soccer articles: 3. Jairzinho
Dribbling – 78
The Brazilian dribbler was part of the Brazil team at three World Cups in 1966, 1970 and 1974. He has 78 dribbles to his name. He won the World Cup in 1970 scoring a goal and providing an assist in the final match against Italy.
Dribbling – 106
One of the greatest not only of his time but of football history, Diego Maradona was a beast with the ball. The “Goal of the Century” scored by Maradona after dribbling almost half of the English squad in the 1986 World Cup Semifinals is enough to demonstrate his skills. Maradona has 106 dribbles to his name in World Cups. He won the World Cup in 1986. He played in the 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994 World Cups.
1. Lionel Messi
If there is any player who could beat Maradona in dribbling, it is Lionel Messi. The Argentine international has defined the football decade with his dribbling. A complete player on the pitch, La Pulga has a monster record of 120 dribbles to his name. In his five World Cup appearances (2006, 2010, 2014, 2014 and 2022) he managed to reach the Final once in 2014. The World Cup in Qatar is almost certainly his last and he is willing to go after the main prize, which is most likely the latter.