Pele ticked every single box for a superstar footballer. He not only scored goals at a prolific rate – 1033 goals in just 1120 games for club and 77 goals in 92 international caps for Brazil – but he played the game with such flare and extravagance that even without the goals he would’ve been a top player.
And the period in which he was prominent in the game also marked huge social changes around the world. As such Pele was a great icon and figurehead who had a positive attitude to life.
The Brazilian was an absolute legend.
The beauty of football is that you need all sorts of characters in order to make it what it is. If Pele and Lionel Messi were the clean cut, healthy living icons of the game then Diego was much more of a bad boy.
But it made him even more high profile. And his antics of course added to the drama of the game. Without him there would’ve been far less controversy about the game and also far less colour.
Until Messi came along TFF thought that Maradona was the best player of all time. We have had to adjust our opinion because of the brilliance of the Argentinian successor to Diego’s throne. But the way that the little man would drift past five or six players before scoring a goal was the stuff of cartoons. He may not have been the best ambassador for the sport but he was certainly one of the best players that the game has seen.
It’s hard to find superlatives to describe the excellence of Lionel Messi. He has the ingenuity which is, impossibly, on a par with Diego but has enjoyed far more longevity than his Argentine predecessor.
He’s still in his prime but has already racked up eight La Liga titles, four Champions League winners medals and five Ballon D’Or titles.
And he plays the game better than we’ve ever seen anyone do it before. The beauty of his ingenuity is he just makes it all look so simple. He may have lost his pace and adapted his game as a consequence in the last few years but he is still lethal in front of goal and effortlessly brilliant at reading the game. TFF believes that he is the best player of all time.
Ex-Manchester United man Cristiano Ronaldo has possibly been at this level for so long because he feels he is in such competition with Messi. The Argentine plays the game with more elegance than Cristiano Ronaldo who is more about power and precision.
And while Ronaldo doesn’t quite look as good as Messi on a football pitch he still takes the breath away on an almost weekly basis with his burst of pace, step overs and ability to beat a man and score goals from impossible angles.
His body almost defies physics and biology and he remains one of the best players in the game even though he is now well into his 30s.
Ronaldo has kept Real Madrid at the top and before that he catapulted Manchester United to unprecedented success – three Champions League final appearances in his last four years at the club.
The Northern Irishman and Manchester United legend had a few of the traits of all of the above. Not all of those were good qualities but, again, it added to the allure of the man himself.
Best probably enjoyed the social trappings of fame more than he should’ve done but when he was on the field of play few players in the world could cope with his brilliance.
He had such creativity to go with those elastic legs and pace to beat his man. He scored unbelievable goals for Manchester United and assisted as many more – he ended his career with 181 goals in 474 appearances for the Old Trafford giants.