Tom Brady, Usain Bolt and Lionel Messi: Who is the greatest sportsperson of all time?


Tom Brady winning his seventh Super Bowl on Sunday sparked a GOAT debate.

While the achievement pretty much guaranteed his NFL GOAT status, it also had people calling him the greatest sportsperson of all time.

So…is he?

Well, there are quite a few legendary sportspeople who might have something to say about that.

In truth, it’s an impossible question to answer.

Who is the greatest sportsperson of all time?

How do you compare sportspeople from different sports, different eras and different genders?

You simply can’t.

That’s why we’ve ignored our own advice and decided to give it a go.

Using Tiermaker, we’ve decided to rank legendary sportspeople from ‘GOAT of GOATs’ (the greatest sportsperson of all time) to ‘Not even that great.’

We know we’re going to upset a lot of people with his…


Not even that great

Jonny Wilkinson – Rugby

Look, when we say ‘Not even that great’ we mean legendary but they shouldn’t be considered the GOAT of their sport.

Wilkinson helped England win the World Cup with that famous drop-kick in 2003 but he wasn’t one of the best ever. He’s lucky to make this list, in truth.



Floyd Mayweather – Boxing

Novak Djokovic – Tennis

Pele – Football

Lewis Hamilton – Formula One

Chris Hoy – Cycling

Diego Maradona – Football

Jonah Lomu – Rugby

LeBron James – Basketball

Carl Lewis – Athletics

Marcel Hirscher – Skiing

Incredible names everywhere you look and, without doubt, some of the greatest to have competed in their respective sports. Unfortunately for them, someone proceeded or succeeded them who surpassed their achievements.

Lewis Hamilton can probably consider himself the most hard done to only be in the ‘Great’ tier but we think his legacy will only improve once he’s retired.

Another Brit in the form of Chris Hoy features with the cyclist being an eleven-time world champion and six-time Olympic champion.

Pele and Diego Maradona are in the GOAT argument when it comes to football but they’ve both been surpassed by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.



Rafael Nadal – Tennis

Cristiano Ronaldo – Football

Roger Federer – Tennis

Nadia Comăneci – Gymnastics

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are level with 20 grand slams each in the world of male tennis. Shame there can only be one GOAT in the sport, though…

Cristiano Ronaldo will argue he’s football’s GOAT but we’re giving this one to his eternal rival.

Comaneci was one of the best ever and, at the age of 14, received the first ever perfect 10 score at the 1976 Olympic Games.


GOAT in their sport

Lionel Messi – Football

Usain Bolt – Athletics

Serena Williams – Tennis

Tiger Woods – Golf

Michael Jordan – Basketball

Tom Brady – NFL

Wayne Gretzky – NFL

Michael Phelps – Swimming

Michael Schumacher – Formula One

Valentino Rossi – MotoGP

Lindsey Vonn – Skiier

Simone Biles – Gymnastics

Eddy Merckx – Cycling

These 13 GOATs don’t need any introduction, do they?

They are the greatest to have ever competed in their respective sports.

Awards, trophies, medals, cups, titles, grand slams, records… this lot have achieved the lot.



Muhammad Ali – Boxing

So, the greatest sportsperson of all time is Muhammed Ali.

Cassius Clay finishing his boxing career with 56 wins from 61 fights and is one of the most celebrated figures in sporting history. He defeated every top heavyweight in his era – the greatest era in heavyweight boxing. Even if you know nothing about boxing – or even sport for that matter – you’ve heard of Muhammad Ali.

Why? Because he’s the greatest.


Final rankings

So, that shouldn’t upset too many people…

We’re fully aware that sitting behind a laptop saying one legendary athlete is greater than another legendary athlete means very little. It’s simply our opinion after years of watching sport.

We’re massively grateful for each and every single one of these sportspeople for the entertainment they’ve provided us over the years. They all taken their sport to the next level and wowed us with their ability.

Is our list definitive and ends any debate over who the GOATs are? Absolutely not.

Can we back up our opinion? Absolutely.

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