Fans have voted for the 50 most overrated athletes of all time

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Are athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo and Tiger Woods overrated? Surely not.

Deciding whether athletes are 'overrated' or 'underrated' can spark passionate debates amongst sports fans because, well, the answer largely depends on how the public perceives them.

Being overrated isn't necessarily an inditement of your career, rather that your reputation and star status might have caused fans to hype you up beyond the realms of your actual ability.

But regardless of how scientific or not these social media barbs might be, there's no denying that it gets people talking and there are 50 athletes who have freshly gone under the microscope.

That's because the popular ranking website thetoptens.com has a special section for the 'Top Ten Most Overrated Athletes' where sports fans can vote on how the stars should be ordered.

Overrated athletes?

So, yes, that does mean that more than ten athletes make up the list and you can actually go as far back as 100 and beyond where the likes of Jack Wilshere and Roman Reigns randomly crop up. 

But we're not beating around the bush, instead we're isolating the top 50 to see which athletes have ticked off sports fans the most by allegedly having a reputation far beyond their career's reality.

As you might imagine, though, the rankings aren't necessarily the fairest in the world, so check out the full list down below to see which picks you agree with and which you can't stand:

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50. Ricky Hatton (boxing)

49. Michael Sam (NFL)

48. Pete Rose (baseball)

47. Wilt Chamberlain (NBA)

46. Lionel Messi (football)

45. Antoine Walker (NBA)

44. Tim Duncan (NBA)

43. Sidney Crosby (ice hockey)

42. Vince Carter (NBA)

41. LaMarcus Aldridge (NBA)

50-41 summary

Lionel Messi is overrated??? Ok, let's ignore the glut of American sports stars here and even Ricky Hatton to talk about the utter nonsense that is Messi being anywhere on this list.

With six Ballon d'Or trophies, you'd be hard-pressed to argue that Messi is anything shy of one of the greatest athletes in history and that's in spite of the fact fans sing his praises so often.

We're sorry, but there's a select group of athletes who transcend talent and skill to such an extent that it's near-impossible to be 'overrated' and Messi strolls right into that category.

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40. Manny Ramirez (NFL)

39. Muhammad Ali (boxing)

38. Reggie Bush (NFL)

37. Tom Brady (NFL)

36. Klay Thompson (NBA)

35. Peyton Manning (NFL)

34. Dirk Nowitzki (NBA)

33. Donovan McNabb (NFL)

32. Yao Ming (NBA)

31. Barry Bonds (baseball)

40-31 summary

Again, these middle-sections are largely comprised of sports stars stateside and it's pretty eye-catching to see two NFL legends in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning racking up so many votes.

We're inclined to think Brady has only placed so highly because of his unabashed haters as opposed to people genuinely thinking that six Super Bowl rings is in anyway overrated.

As for Ali in 39th? Give us a break. We're talking about one of the greatest fighters of all time and the undisputed GOAT of the heavyweight division, there's no way he should be on this list.

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30. Randy Moss (NFL)

29. John Cena (WWE)

28. Johnny Manziel (NFL)

27. Cam Newton (NFL)

26. Michael Vick (NFL)

25. Tony Romo (NFL)

24. Russell Wilson (NFL)

23. Tiger Woods (golf)

22. Allen Iverson (NBA)

21. Emmitt Smith (NFL)

30-21 summary

Each batch of 10 seems to have a completely mind-boggling name in it and Tiger Woods is the latest who, despite having 15 majors to his name, is apparently the 23rd most overrated athlete of all time.

This likely has something to do with going 11 years without a major and watching his chances of surpassing Jack Nicklaus' record fade away amid personal crises, but what sort of criticism is that?

Nobody has ever made such a whirlwind impact on the sport as Woods, winning the 1997 Master by a record 12 strokes at aged 21 and holding all four majors simultaneously in 2000/01. Remarkable.

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20. Alex Rodriguez (baseball)

19. Michael Jordan (NBA)

18. Tim Tebow (NFL/baseball)

17. Manny Pacquiao (boxing)

16. Stephen Curry (NBA)

15. Ronaldinho (football)

14. Mike Tyson (boxing)

13. Babe Ruth (baseball)

12. Joe Namath (NFL)

11. Cristiano Ronaldo (football)

20-11 summary

There's a lot to unpack here...

If you somehow think that Ronaldo is overrated, we'll kindly direct you to our comments on Messi, while the inclusions of Jordan and Pacquiao just leave us scratching our head.

Tyson is certainly an interesting one. Despite his greatness, we're reluctantly going to agree because his streak of knockouts at a young age has led many casual fans to naively declare him as some sort of boxing GOAT.

Ruth also sits along the boundary for the fact he played in a completely different era of sport where the definition of athleticism was, well, a little looser. But his glut of records in baseball makes him tough to criticise beyond a certain point. 

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10. Scottie Pippen (NBA)

9. Danica Patrick (motor sports)

8. LeBron James (basketball)

7. Kobe Bryant (basketball)

6. Eli Manning (NFL)

5. Terrell Owens (NFL)

4. Pele (football)

3. Michelle Wie (golf)

2. Shaquille O'Neal (basketball)

1. David Beckham (football)

10-1 summary

So, there you have it, Beckham is apparently the most overrated athlete of all time and there's perhaps scope for that decision in the way his celebration status has inflated his reputation.

We're not saying by any stretch that Beckham was a poor player, but he's reached higher heights and greater acclaim off the pitch than he ever did during his still-remarkable career on it.

Pele is a tough one in fourth place. It's hard to claim that the only man with three World Cup wins is overrated, but his own grandiose claims of over 1,200 goals are undoubtedly belittled by the opposition he scored so many of them against.

As for Bryant making the top ten, it's certainly sad to see the late great having his achievements doubted and we don't think for a minute that he received more acclaim than he was due. 

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But the question is: which athletes on this list do YOU think were overrated and should Beckham be number one? It is, after all, a matter of opinion.

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