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Home Musings Pele, Maradona, Messi, Ronaldo – Who’s the Greatest Footballer? – 2020

Pele, Maradona, Messi, Ronaldo – Who’s the Greatest Footballer? – 2020

by AniM
the greatest footballer of all time

Who’s the Greatest Footballer of them all?

Football – The Beautiful Game….and the Greatest Footballer of them all
 
Football – The ‘Beautiful Game‘ loved and followed by millions around the globe. History says, around the 2nd and 3rd century BC, the Chinese game of Cuju is the earliest known and recorded version of football.
The Japanese version known as Kemari was recorded around 600 AD, in which several people stood around in a group, kicking a ball within themselves so that it doesn’t hit the ground! Then the Greeks and Romans had something called Harpastum/Episkyros (388 to 311 BC) in which they played with Follis (Ball).
Even native Americans played a form of Football called Aqsaqtuk, recorded around the 16th century. 
But the modern version of the game can be traced back to Europe, particularly England, in the 12th century, when villages played against each other on Shrovetide, Christmas etc.
With the spread of colonialism, Football spread to all British colonies, and as ironical as things could get, the colonies got better at it while England deteriorated! But that’s another story for another day!! Let’s get to discussing the greatest footballer this game has seen!
 

The Greatest Footballers to have played the Game…

Several geniuses have graced the game from the early 20th century to modern times and today I place before you, a debate decades into the making! Who’s the Greatest Footballer of them all to have ever played the Beautiful Game? 
A list like that should have about 100 odd entries, considering the last 60 years or so. But that would take the form of a tome! So I’ve distilled it down to four legends, two from the current generation, two from before. Pele, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, or Cristiano Ronaldo to be considered the Greatest Footballer of all time!
 
Let’s analyze them one by one, starting with the undoubted genius of Pele – The Oldest candidate for the Greatest Footballer of all time! 
 
Pele - greatest footballer of all time

The Greatest Footballer of all time – Candidate No. 1 – PELE

 
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Minas Gerais, Brazil in the year 1940, the name Pele was given to him and that just stuck! His family was impoverished and Pele had to work as a Tea Shop assistant to help his family. He started playing football with either grapefruits or stuffed socks tied with string. His talent was obvious from the age of 15 when he started playing club football, and for the Brazilian national team at age 16.
He is the only player to have won the World Cup thrice (in 1958, 1962 and 1970) and his career goals (1279 goals in 1363 games) is still a World Record. Known for his spectacular goals, inch perfect assists, vision and dribbling skills, he’s Brazil’s national Icon and World Player of the century!
 
The 1966 World Cup, which was held in England was notorious for the brutal fouls on Pele and in the match with Portugal, he was a victim of a ‘studs up’ foul and limped the entire match with blood leaking from his shin (There was no substitute rule at that time). The defender was not Red Carded, in one of the worst refereeing decisions in World Cup history. Brazil exited in the first round, with Pele sidelined with injury.
 
In 1970, Brazil played with a team that featured Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Gérson, 
Clodoaldo and Torres – which many consider to be the Greatest Football Team in history! Brazil played with five Forwards, with Pele in the center. Brazil met Italy in the final and won the match 4-1 to keep the Jules Rimet Trophy with them, forever!!
The last goal, involved 8 Brazilian players, and Pele’s blind pass found Carlos Alberto running up from behind, and he scored – this is often considered the Greatest Team Goal in Football history.
Tarcisio Burgnich, who was tasked with marking Pele, remarked after the match – “I told myself before the game that he’s made of skin and bones, like everyone else – but I was wrong!”
 
Pele retired in 1977 and remains in the minds of all football lovers as possibly, The Greatest Footballer to have Ever Played Football!!! Below are some excerpts from his glittering career – some videos are from very long back and poor in quality, but you cannot miss the magic!
Remember, during those times, both the ball and the boots worn by the players were rudimentary (not as technologically advanced as now) and whatever magic came off the foot of these Greats, is sheer talent and genius, unaided by any technology….
 
 
 
 
 
Next up is another Legend in the pantheon of the Greatest Footballers, Diego Armando Maradona of Argentina. he was born in 1960 in a poor family near Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was spotted as a special talent at the age of 8 and made his First Division debut a few days before his 16th birthday and made his international debut for Argentina, a year later.
In the career that followed, massive chunks of absolute brilliance were marred by incredible lows of drugs, fights, and temper tantrums.
Though he played in four World Cups (1982, 1986, 1990, and 1994), he won in 1986 and was Runners Up in 1990. 
 
greatest footballer 2 diego maradona

Greatest Footballer of All Time No. 2 by a whisker – Diego Maradona

 
 
The 1986 World Cup, though, was Maradona’s Cup of Joy running over! In the quarter-final game against England, which Argentina eventually won 2-1, Maradona scored the first goal with his hand and the referee missed it – the “Hand of God” goal!
Four minutes later, Maradona controlled the ball in his own half, dribbled past five English players, then left goalkeeper Peter Shilton on his backside, before slotting home into an empty net.
Often described as the Greatest Goal in World Cup history, it engraved Maradona’s legend in Football’s pantheons. As if to prove that goal was not a fluke, he scored a similar goal in the semifinal against Belgium. Argentina went on to beat West Germany 3-2 and claim the World Cup.
In a total of 590 appearances, he scored 310 goals and was famous for his ball control and dribbling skills. His erratic temperament and dillydallying with drugs and other intoxicants brought the curtains down on a glittering career of one of the greatest footballers to have ever played the game….
 
Some glimpses from that amazing career….
RIP Legend! For many, you were the Greatest Footballer!!
 
 
Next up from our times, another Argentine candidate for the Greatest Footballer – Lionel Messi…. Full name Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini was born in Rosario, Argentina in 1987. He moved to Spain to join Barcelona as a youth player at the age of 13 and he made his Senior Club debut and International debut for Argentina in the same year, 2004. There has been no looking back since….
 
He has won six Ballon d’Or, more than any other player in history, won 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona but no World Cups with Argentina! Considered to be best player to have come out of Argentina since Diego Maradona (minus the character deficiencies), he has won everything that has come in is way, except the World Cup…
 
Messi is known for his feints and quick agility, also being quicker with the ball than without it. Great close control of the ball, electric speed, mesmerizing dribbling all combine to make him a lethal forward. He plays mostly as a withdrawn forward (slightly behind a striker) and creates assists with his pinpoint passes.
He possesses great finishing skills, from both outside and inside the penalty box, has a great understanding of space, and goes on deadly runs, mostly down the left flank, his preferred choice.
 
greatest footballer 3 lionel messi

Greatest Footballer No.3 – Lionel Messi

 
In a record-studded career, Messi has scored 645 goals in 762 Club matches, and in international appearances, he’s scored 86 goals in 161 matches. Often finds himself stranded in an Argentine team bereft of talent to suit his game – he has no one to anticipate his passes, like he does at Barcelona or no one to create the opportunities (a la Andres Iniesta, again at Barca) for him to begin his searing runs.
Thus, he’s left ruing missed opportunities in national color and his chance at a career redeeming World Cup fading away.
He will be 35 by the time the next World Cup rolls around, past prime even for a supreme athlete like him!
 
Greatness has found him, only a World Cup-sized chink exists in that otherwise unbelievable career. Here’s a collection of some unbelievable Messi Goals….undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers of modern times.
 
 
 
 
 
Last but not the least, the picture-perfect poster boy Cristiano Ronaldo, of Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro was born in Madeira, Portugal in 1985.
He started his major Club career with Man U in 2003 and helped them win three consecutive Premier League titles, the UEFA Champions’ League and the FIFA Club World Cup. He’s also won the Ballon d’Or five times and the European Golden Shoes four times, the most for any European Footballer.
 
Like many other legendary footballers, Ronaldo was also born into an impoverished family. Around the age of 15, Ronaldo was diagnosed with a disease called Racing Heart and underwent Heart Surgery to fix it. It would have otherwise curtailed his budding footballing career.
His involvement with Sir Alex Ferguson, led to great things and Ronaldo flourished at Man U. He played for Man U from 2003 to 2009, then moved to Real Madrid (2009-2018) and then to Juventus (2018 to present)….
 
ronaldo - greatest footballer of all time no. 4

Cristiano Ronaldo – The Greatest Footballer of All Time – Candidate # 4

 
Ronaldo, being right-footed, started off as a right-winger, overlapping and crossing into the box. Over time, however, he developed tricks like feints and step-overs and his famous ‘flip-flap’. He is a set-piece master where his powerful right footers have scored many a goal from free-kicks. His height (6’1.5″) and muscular, powerful legs have also given him the ability to spot jump high.
This makes him lethal in the box with his headers, again, one of his scoring methods. His skill, stamina, and masterly dribblings make him one of the most coveted footballers of our times.
 
His 852 Club matches have fetched him 632 goals, and internationally 99 goals from 164 matches. Such prolific scoring has made him a  much sought-after footballer and his only competitor is Lionel Messi. At the time when they were both playing in La Liga, the derby El Classico between the two teams was a treat to watch, Messi and Ronaldo going head-to-head.
 
Like Messi, his national team (Portugal) isn’t blessed with geniuses of their caliber, rendering them into one-man shows with little to show for their massive talents. He might also never win the World Cup, by the time the next World Cup rolls around, Ronaldo will be 37! Till then, enjoy this little capsule below….
 
 
Now, Before I come to the verdict on the Greatest Footballer (and start a debate), one name needs to be mentioned here for the title of the Greatest Footballer of all Time amongst many that I have omitted for the lack of space and impact upon the game. Brazil and Barcelona Great – Ronaldinho! Such sublime skills have rarely been seen on the field before or after him. Though he did win the solitary World Cup of 2002, his talent deserved much better. An over-the-top lifestyle left him in freefall, and drugs, women, and even jail happened to him!
greatest footballer of all time ronaldinho

Narrow Miss – The Greatest Footballer of All Time

 
But watch the video to be mesmerized, and there are more on YouTube, and he remains one player who’s scored multiple goals from freekicks, under the defensive wall, not over or around it, like everybody else…. True Magic!!
 
 
 

Verdict – 

Pele The Greatest Footballer of All Time – Not because of his sublime skills or the unbelievable average of almost one goal per match or even the three World Cups that he’s won… because of the adversities he faced. Brutal fouls, heavy Ball, and hard boots to name a few. One of the most closely marked strikers of his time, watch his banana kick, with a heavy black ball, and you’ll know what I mean.
Pure bliss to watch him play, though he did play in a real World-beating team, his individual brilliance always made him stand out and in a way, giving more freedom to those around him to express themselves.

Watch The Greatest Footballer of All Time – Pele’s greatest Goals!

Watch Crazy Footballing Skills of Ronaldinho

Read Book Reviews here

 

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