The Beautiful game has had some true heroes who have transcended the game itself and cemented their legacy in the minds of football fans forever. Who is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)? Down we rank them all (7), from Maradona to Messi, Pele to Ronaldo.
“Winning is an important thing, but to have your own style, to have people copy you, to admire you, that is the greatest gift.” – Johan Cruyff. No player and person in the history of the sport have had as much of an impact as Johan Cruyff on the game.
Winner of the Ballon d’Or 3 times in his phenomenal career (1971,73 and 74), Cruyff first created his legacy in Ajax with “Total Football”. Cruyff was a true legend of the game that stayed at the very top level for an incredible 20 years.
6. Ronaldo Nazario
When a player plays for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan and still has no haters, you know that he is something special. Atletico Madrid and Manchester United star Quinton Fortune praised him;
“He was physical perfection, and he seemed like a mythical figure. I love [Lionel] Messi, I played many times with Cristiano [Ronaldo] and I adore him, Neymar is outstanding, Ronaldinho was exceptional but if you put all of them together, you might get what Ronaldo was that season.”
5. Lionel Messi
A child prodigy, Messi after Ronaldinho’s departure quickly became Barcelona’s main man and was the star in Pep Guardiola’s 2008-09 all-conquering Barcelona side playing a crucial role in the incredible treble they won that season.
Two quotes define the maestro: Arsene Wenger; “Messi is the best player in the world by some distance. He’s like a PlayStation. He can take advantage of every mistake we make.” Mascherano: “[Messi] is indispensable, but the rest of us are dispensable. No, the club is bigger than any manager, than any player… except Leo. That’s the reality, and you have to accept it.”
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are two absolute freaks of the game. Spurring each other on to do better, the Portuguese superstar just edges his great rival on this list because of his greater longevity and the fact that he has won a major international trophy with Portugal.
The legendary George Best was so impressed with Ronaldo that he said that: “There have been a few players described as ‘the new George Best’ over the years, but this is the first time it’s been a compliment to me.”
3. Zinedine Zidane
Winner of the Ballon d’Or in 1998, Zidane had an extremely successful career at both Juventus and Real Madrid. However, Zidane first truly came into the public conscience as a true world class player with his performance against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final.
His idol, Platini was full of praise for the young French prodigy; “Technically, I think he is the king of what’s fundamental in the game control and passing. I don’t think anyone can match him when it comes to controlling or receiving the ball.”
2. Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona’s entire persona as a player and person was probably captured in that fateful match against England in the 1986 World Cup. A cunning genius, the Argentine maestro left the English defense in knots to score the greatest World Cup goal of all time.
Supremely talented, skilled and a magician with his feet, Diego Maradona could do things with a football which ordinary mortals could not even do with their hands. “Even if I played for a million years, I’d never come close to Maradona. Not that I’d want to anyway. He’s the greatest there’s ever been.” –Messi
No player has won more World Cups than Pele; that alone should be enough to justify the Brazilian’s inclusion on the top of this list. His goalscoring stats are simply incredible; the only player to score more than 1200 senior goals, Pele even more so than all the other legends; on this list brought his best game when it mattered the most.
Burgnich, who marked Pelé during 1970 final, was quoted saying; “I told myself before the game, he’s made of skin and bones just like everyone else but I was wrong”.
Pele for his ability, longevity, and performances in big matches is ranked as the greatest football of all time.