The top-flight football league in Germany is known as the Bundesliga (Federal League), and is sometimes referred to as the Fußball-Bundesliga or 1. Bundesliga.
It was created in 1963 and currently consists of 18 teams, with the two lowest-placed teams in the table after a double round-robin tournament in the season automatically getting relegated to 2. Bundesliga (Zweite Bundesliga).
They are replaced by the top two teams in the 2. Bundesliga, with the third-placed team in the division facing off with the 16th-placed team in the Bundesliga in a promotion/relegation playoffs to determine who takes each other’s place in the two divisions.
Bundesliga teams challenge for the league title, DFB-Pokal (German Cup) and DFL-Supercup (German Super Cup) domestically, while they compete with other European clubs for the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League – depending on where they finished in the league table during the preceding campaign and the honours won.
The German top-flight is one of the best in the world and the number one football league in the world in terms of average attendance.
It has produced some of the best footballers in the history football and continues to churn out top-quality players to date.
Who are some of the best Bundesliga players of all time?
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best Bundesliga players of all time – if there’s any missing please let us know!
One of the greatest Bundesliga players of all time, Arjen Robben had to be in this list.
- Bundesliga games: 201
- Bundesliga goals: 99
- Trophies: 20
- Year: 2009 – 2019
The former Dutch winger spent 10 seasons in Germany with Bayern Munich, assisting 62 times and leaving a hero.
Robben won eight Bundesliga titles, five DFB-Pokal, five DFL-Supercups, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Super Cup at the Allianz Arena, emerging as VDV Bundesliga Player of the Season, the kicker Man of the Year and Footballer of the Year in Germany in 2010.
The one-time FIFA FIFPro World XI member scored 37 goals in 96 games for the Netherlands, but they yielded no silverware as Spain defeated them in the final of the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
As a stalwart of Bayern Munich during one of their most successful eras, Schweinsteiger was one of the Bundesliga’s top players.
- Bundesliga games: 342
- Bundesliga goals: 45
- Trophies: 19
- Year: 2002 – 2015
The former Germany international midfielder weighed in with 68 assists in 13 seasons with Bayern Munich, winning eight Bundesliga titles, seven DFB-Pokal cups, one DFL-Supercup, a UEFA Champions League, a FIFA Club World Cup title and a UEFA Super Cup title with them.
Schweinsteiger emerged as the Footballer of the Year in Germany in 2013 and was inducted into the Bavarians’ Hall of Fame in 2018.
He is Germany’s fourth-most-capped player of all time, having played 121 games and scored 24 goals, appearing at four European Championships and three World Cups – winning the 2014 edition.
Another who had to be on the list of the best players in the Bundesliga, Ribery terrorised defences for years with his mix of pace and skill.
- Bundesliga games: 273
- Bundesliga goals: 86
- Trophies: 23
- Year: 2007 – 2019
The 39-year-old (1983) winger made 120 assists in 12 seasons with Bayern Munich, helping them land nine Bundesliga titles, six DFB-Pokal Cups, three DFL-Supercups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup.
Ribery won the Footballer of the Year in Germany award in 2008 and the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award in 2012-13.
The Frenchman was Bundesliga’s top assist provider for three seasons, Bundesliga Player of the Year once and was included in the FIFA FIFPro World XI once.
Ribery featured in 81 games for France, scoring 16 times before retiring from international football in 2014.
Arguably one of the greatest of all time, not just in the Bundesliga, Beckenbauer had to be on this list:
- Bundesliga games: 424
- Bundesliga goals: 44
- Trophies: 14
- Year: 1964 – 1977, 1980 – 1982
The former German defender featured for both Bayern Munich and Hamburger SV, spending 12 seasons with the former before returning after four years in America to spend two more seasons in the league.
Der Kaiser (The Emperor) played 396 games for Die Roten, scoring 44 times and assisting 70.
He played 28 games for Die Rothosen but could not score or win silverware during his brief spell there.
While with Bayern, Beckenbauer won four Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokal cups, three European Cups, one European Cup Winners’ Cup and one Intercontinental Cup.
The four-time Footballer of the Year in Germany has been included in the Bayern Munich All-time XI and is also a legend for his country.
Beckenbauer appeared in 103 games for West Germany, scoring 14 times and helping them win the 1972 UEFA European Championship and 1974 World Cup.
The two-time Ballon d’Or winner is one of the best players to have graced the German top-flight and the football game.
- Bundesliga games: 427
- Bundesliga goals: 365
- Trophies: 13
- Year: 1965 – 1979
The late German striker holds the record for the most goals in the history of the league, and many consider him the greatest player the league has ever seen.
Muller spent 14 top-flight seasons at the Allianz Arena, assisting 92 times, winning four titles, four DFB-Pokal Cups, three European Cups, one European Cup Winners’ Cup and one Intercontinental Cup.
The 1970 Ballon d’Or winner, who has several Bundesliga records to his name, won two European Golden Shoes, was Bundesliga Top Scorer seven times, Footballer of the Year in Germany twice and has been included in the Bayern Munich All-time XI.
On the international scene, Muller scored 68 goals in 62 games for West Germany, winning the 1972 UEFA European Championship and 1974 World Cup with them.
- Bundesliga games: 369
- Bundesliga goals: 220
- Trophies: Six
- Year: 1965 – 1978
The former German striker started his Bundesliga career with Borussia Monchengladbach, moving to Hannover 96 before returning to Borussia-Park to end his career.
Heynckes bagged 25 goals and 11 assists in 86 games across three seasons for Hannover, scoring 195 goals and registering 46 assists in 283 games over two spells for Monchengladbach.
He won one UEFA Cup, one DFB-Pokal and four Bundesliga titles at Borussia-Park, emerging as Bundesliga top scorer of the season twice.
Heynckes played 39 games for West Germany, scoring 14 times and winning the 1972 UEFA European Championship and 1974 World Cup.
- Bundesliga games: 310
- Bundesliga goals: 162
- Trophies: Seven
- Year: 1974 – 1984
The former German forward spent 10 seasons with Die Roten, assisting 58 times.
Rummenigge won two Bundesliga titles, two DFB-Pokal Cups, two European Cups and an Intercontinental Cup, emerging as Bundesliga Top Goalscorer thrice and has been inducted into the Bayern Munich All-time XI.
He won the Ballon d’Or in 1980 and 1981 and was the Footballer of the Year in Germany in the former.
Rummenigge scored 45 goals in 95 games for West Germany, winning the 1980 UEFA European Championship with them.
Not only was Keegan a star for Liverpool and for England, he was also one of the best players in the Bundesliga during his spell at Hamburger SV.
- Bundesliga games: 90
- Bundesliga goals: 32
- Trophies: One
- Year: 1977 – 1980
The former English forward spent just three seasons in the German top-flight, assisting twice.
However, Keegan had a lot of impact during his time with Hamburger SV, winning the Ballon d’Or in 1978 and 1979 and helping the team to one Bundesliga title.
He made kicker Bundesliga Team of the Season in each of his three campaigns at the club, scoring 21 goals in 63 games for the England national team.
- Bundesliga games: 464
- Bundesliga goals: 121
- Trophies: 15
- Year: 1979 – 1988, 1992 – 2000
The former German midfielder spent five seasons with Borussia Monchengladbach, scoring 36 goals in 162 league games.
While he won nothing with Die Borussen, Matthaus picked up seven Bundesliga titles, three DFB-Pokal Cups, one DFB-Supercup and one UEFA Cup in 12 seasons with Bayern Munich over his two spells at the club.
The 1990 Ballon d’Or winner was named Footballer of the Year in Germany twice and has since been included in the Bayern Munich All-time XI.
Matthäus featured in 150 games for West Germany/Germany, scoring 23 times and winning the 1990 FIFA World Cup and 1980 UEFA European Championship.
- Bundesliga games: 267
- Bundesliga goals: 77
- Trophies: Eight
- Year: 1997 – 2006, 2010 – 2012
The former German midfielder started his Bundesliga journey with 1. FC Kaiserslautern before leaving for Bayer Leverkusen after two seasons that yielded a league title, four goals and an assist in 46 games.
Ballack spent five seasons at the BayArena across two spells, scoring 29 goals, assisting 18 times in 114 games and making it to the Bayer Leverkusen Squad of the Century.
He spent four seasons with Bayern Munich, bagging 44 goals and 29 assists in 107 league fixtures.
Ballack won three Bundesliga titles and three DFB-Pokal Cups with Die Bayern and was named Footballer of the Year in Germany thrice.
He scored 42 goals in 98 games for Germany but was unable to pick up any silverware despite coming close on two occasions, losing both the 2002 World Cup and 2008 European Championship finals.
- Bundesliga games: 472
- Bundesliga goals: 0
- Trophies: 30
- Year: 2006 – present
The Bayern Munich goalkeeper, 36 (1986), started his Bundesliga career at Schalke 04, making 156 appearances over the course of five campaigns and winning one DFB-Pokal and the defunct DFL-Ligapokal with them.
Widely regarded as one of the best in his position in the game, Neuer joined the Bavarians afterwards and is in his 12th season with them, with 10 titles, five DFB-Pokal Cups, seven DFL-Supercups, two UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups to his name so far.
The sweeper-keeper has set and broken a number of records in the Bundesliga, including being the player with the highest number of wins (315) in the history of the league.
Neuer is a two-time Footballer of the Year in Germany winner, five-time Best European Goalkeeper winner, four-time FIFA FIFPro World XI member and has been included in the official Bundesliga Team of the Season seven times.
The 2020 German national Player of the Year won the 2014 World Cup with Germany and has appeared in 113 international games so far.
- Bundesliga games: 392
- Bundesliga goals: 29
- Trophies: 14
- Year: 2006 – present
The Borussia Dortmund hero, 33 (1988), played 75 games for his boyhood club Bayern Munich, scoring thrice, winning three titles, two DFL-Supercups and one DFB-Pokal.
Hummels is in his second spell at Westfalenstadion and has won a total of two titles, two DFB-Pokal Cups and three DFL-Supercups with them.
The Germany international centre-back has made the official Bundesliga Team of the Season six times and played 76 games for the national team, scoring five goals and helping them win the 2014 World Cup where he made the All-Star team.
- Bundesliga games: 557
- Bundesliga goals: 0
- Trophies: 22
- Year: 1987 – 2008
The former German goalkeeper started his career with Karlsruher SC before leaving for Bayern Munich after 128 games across seven seasons.
Kahn spent the remaining 14 seasons of his professional life at the Allianz Arena, appearing in 429 games, winning eight titles, six DFB-Pokal Cups, five DFB-Ligapokal Cups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Cup and an Intercontinental Cup.
He was named Best Bundesliga Keeper seven times, Best European Goalkeeper four times and German Footballer of the Year twice.
Kahn played 86 games for his country, winning the UEFA European Championship in 1996.
- Bundesliga games: 385
- Bundesliga goals: 14
- Trophies: 21
- Year: 2003 – 2017
The former German full-back started and ended his career with Bayern Munich, but spent his first two seasons in the Bundesliga on loan with Stuttgart, appearing 53 times, scoring twice and assisting thrice.
Lahm played 332 games for Die Roten over 12 seasons, scoring 12 times and assisting 45 times.
He won eight titles, six DFB-Pokal Cups, three DFL-Supercups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup.
Lahm made the FIFA FIFPro World XI twice and was named Footballer of the Year in Germany in 2017.
He won the 2014 FIFA World Cup with his country and ended his international career with five goals in 113 appearances.
- Bundesliga games: 384
- Bundesliga goals: 312
- Trophies: 23
- Year: 2010 – 2022
The Poland international striker is the second highest goalscorer in the history of the Bundesliga, starting with his German adventure with Borussia Dortmund.
Lewandowski, 34 (1988), notched 74 goals and 30 assists in 131 games in four seasons with the Black and Yellows, winning two titles, one DFB-Pokal and one DFL-Supercup.
He joined Bayern Munich afterwards and became an instant hit as their new number 9, ending his eight-season stay with 238 goals and 45 assists in 253 games.
Lewandowski won eight titles, three DFB-Pokal Cups, five DFL-Supercups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup during his time at Allianz Arena.
He won two European Golden Shoes, was named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI twice, Bundesliga Player of the Season twice, the Bundesliga Team of the Season nine times, emerging as Bundesliga’s top goalscorer seven times.
Lewandowski set and broke lots of goalscoring records in the league and will go down in history as one of the best players of all time.
He has played 132 times for his country, scoring 76 goals so far.
- Bundesliga games: 473
- Bundesliga goals: 0
- Trophies: 13
- Year: 1965 – 1979
The former German goalie played all his club football with Bayern Munich, winning four titles, four DFB-Pokal Cups, three European Cups, one European Cup Winners’ Cup and one Intercontinental Cup.
Maier was named Footballer of the Year in Germany thrice and Germany’s goalkeeper of the Century.
He is a member of Germany’s Sports Hall of Fame and has been included in Bayern Munich All-time XI.
Maier played 95 games for West Germany, winning the UEFA European Championship in 1972 and the FIFA World Cup in 1974.
- Bundesliga games: 421
- Bundesliga goals: 138
- Trophies: 31
- Year: 2008 – date
The Germany international attacker, 33 (1989), has spent all his career at Bayern Munich, with 168 assists to his name thus far – the highest in the history of the league.
Muller has won a record 11 Bundesliga titles, six DFB-Pokal Cups, eight DFL-Supercups, two UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups.
The one-time Bayern Munich Player of the Season has made the Bundesliga Team of the Season thrice.
Muller has 44 goals in 116 games for Germany so far, winning the 2014 World Cup with them.
- Bundesliga games: 239
- Bundesliga goals: 137
- Trophies: Two
- Year: 1963 – 1972
The late German striker was part of those that kicked off the Bundesliga, featuring in the inaugural campaign and the next eight seasons as a player for Hamburger SV.
Seeler had played nine seasons in the Oberliga Nord (Premier league North) – the highest level of the German football league system in the north of Germany – before the formation of the Bundesliga.
He assisted 36 times, winning one German football championship and one DFB-Pokal with Die Rothosen, emerging as the Footballer of the Year in Germany thrice, winning the Bundesliga Top Scorer once.
Seeler was also a member of Germany’s Sports Hall of Fame, scoring 43 goals in 72 international games for West Germany.
- Bernd Schuster
- Claudio Pizarro
- Gunter Netzer
- Jerome Boateng
- Jurgen Grabowski
- Miroslav Klose
- Paul Breitner
- Rudi Voller
- Wolfgang Overath