There has been a lot of banter around the football world of late comparing Lionel Messi to every footballing great whether dead or alive. I suppose these comparisons are inevitable as he is most certainly one of, if not the, greatest player of the current era (Cristiano Ronaldo starts crying in the fetal position in the corner)
I never had the privilege of watching Pele or Maradona play really but from the limited amount of YouTube clips and statistics I’ve seen you can clearly appreciate their genius.
Maradona, with all the baggage that comes with him, won one world cup and dominated the Serie A and La Liga during his peak and as an attacking midfielder and striker his goal ratio was fairly impressive. I guess why he is so widely recognized is for goals like this at times like these!
You cannot deny the level of skill and pace that this man possessed even late into his career (well not so much the speed) but, for me, if we are talking about greatest of all time I think sometimes that Maradona has the advantage of being traded in a free market football economy which Pele did not and that certainly gave alot more hype to his ability!
Pele on the other hand was devastating in front of goal, I mean I kind of new this but to achieve a goal to game ratio of 0.94 is absolutely unheard of in a career that spanned over 650 games (and even when you compare this to Messi’s 160 goals in 209 games and counting (0.74) its astonishing). He scored 77 in 90 games for Brazil and this completely destroys Messi’s 20 odd in 60 games!
Not only was his club career unquestionably the best ever but he won three world cups and it just gets better from there. At 17 he made it through to the quarters and scored there (youngest to do so), then in the semi he scored a hat-trick (youngest to do so) and then when he played in the final as the youngest player ever he scored twice and became the youngest player to win a world cup (not win but pretty much carry the team as the youngest player)
Just enjoy this!
Now I’ve heard some talk about Ronaldo (maybe not in this category but I thought he is worth a mention – but a small one). No one can deny his talent – he is brilliantly skillful. His goal ratio for a winger essentially is superb and at Real Madrid where he can control the show he has 107 goals in 96 games!
But the simple fact is, he dives, he cries and he whines and while he his career is hopeful in its middle stages and he may go on to mature to an all-time great he has a long way to go – but with skill like this no one better count him out. The only reason i think he is not mentioned close to as much as Messi is quite frankly cause people just don’t like him very much!
Now onto Messi.
He has won three champions leagues, five La Liga titles and about a bijjillion other trophy’s with his beloved Barca. He has won three consecutive Ballon D’ors and is the first player in 30 years to score 60 goals in a season AND HE IS 24 YEARS OLD!
He has already broken the Barcelona all-time scoring record and he hopefully has another 8 – 10 years left in him.
He somehow manages to create space and time like no player I’ve ever seen and he almost plays football like Bradley Cooper deals with Robert De Niro in the last scene of Limitless! He is without question the most talented, most brilliant and best big game temperament player in the world but he does have an all-star team feeding him the ball every step of the way.
He is quite simply just magic to watch (except when he scores against Man United – then I want to punch him in the temple) and he certainly deserves to be in the ‘greatest player of all time’ discussion – yet he is only 24.
Just have a look!
Now for the downside – he has won no major honours with Argentina and has failed to impress mostly in his international career (this lends itself to the argument at Barca he has the greatest midfielders in the world giving him the ball) and until he proves himself in a World Cup I don’t think he will be considered to have overtaken Pele –certainly not by me!
So to the initial question – who is the greatest football player of all time?
The answer has to be Pele quite simply from every aspect. For me Maradona didn’t come close in achievements, not in club nor international and Lionel Messi has not yet shown he is a world beater. Messi does however still hopefully have a decade odd left in him to prove me wrong!