Pele's verdict on Lionel Messi in 2011 shows recent criticism wasn't the first time


Pele sent shockwaves through the footballing world when he slammed Lionel Messi last week.

Although there is certainly debate around who the greatest player of all-time really is, the Brazilian gave a distastefully harsh assessment of Messi when asked to compare his achievements. 

"How can you make a comparison between a guy who heads the ball well, shoots with the left, shoots with the right... and another who only shoots with one leg, only has one skill, doesn't head the ball well?" Pele said to Folha de S.Paulo.

"How can you compare? To compare with Pele, it has to be someone who shoots well with the left, shoots well with the right, and scores headers."

"You will ask me: 'Was Maradona better than Messi?'" he added. "Yes, by a lot. Much better.

Pele's criticism of Messi

"For me, Maradona was one of the best players ever, much better than Messi. Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff were also excellent players."

Pretty stunning comments, so it come as no surprise that everybody from football fans to pundits to ex-players have addressed Pele's verdict.

Almost everyone can agree that Pele took things too far and it certainly seems strange when you consider the three-time World Cup winner has praised him in the past.

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel M

Pele's verdict from 2011

The most recent example came in January when Pele ranked Messi above Cristiano Ronaldo, which is no small statement.

Yet it seems Pele does have a history of criticising Messi after all and especially when it comes to assessing whether the Barcelona star is better than him.

According to Goal, during an interview in 2011, he remarked: "Messi better than Pele? To get there he needs to score more than 1283 goals."

Ouch and that's no small statement considering Messi had just won the Champions League.

Further to that, Messi was arguably in the best goalscoring form of his entire career and was headed towards a 2012 which would see him find the net 91 times.

There has also been criticism surrounding Pele's famous goal tally in the aftermath of his comments, with one originating from a Barcelona fan's Twitter thread.

Although Pele certainly scored over 1,000 goals, many of them featured in games that just wouldn't be counted in the modern era.


However, just don't think the battle between both players is as one-sided as Pele would have you believe.

Who do you think is the greatest player in history? Have your say in the comments section below.

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