Ronaldo, Messi, Tyson, Pele: The 50 most overrated athletes in history as voted by fans

  • Kobe Tong

The tags 'overrated' and 'underrated' are endlessly provocative in the world of sport.

'Overrated' and 'underrated' in sport

In an age where ranking the best and worst of anything is commonplace on the internet, fans often broaden the debate to whether certain things attract more or less hype than they deserve.

And today, we're taking on the granddaddy of all rage-inciting and fury-provoking debates cut from that cloth by looking at who fans consider to be the most overrated athletes of all time.



The popular ranking website has a fascinating interactive list on the 'Top Ten Most Overrated Athletes', which, contrary to its name, actually runs deep into hundreds of sportspeople.

However, Jack Wilshere and Roman Reigns will be relieved to hear that we're focusing in on the top 50, meaning that only the most overrated athletes of all in fans' eyes will be on display.

Man Utd CLOSING IN on Ruben Neves (Football Terrace)

Top 50 most overrated athletes

So, grab your nearest pitchfork and picket sign because rest assured that controversy will come at every twist and turn as we talk through the top 50 most overrated athletes in the history of sport.

50. Brett Favre (NFL)

49. Ricky Hatton (boxing)

48. Floyd Mayweather (boxing)

47. Reggie Bush (NFL)

46. Michael Vick (NFL)

45. Michael Sam (NFL)

44. Wilt Chamberlain (basketball)

43. Antoine Walker (basketball)

42. Lionel Messi (football)

41. Yao Ming (basketball)

50-41 summary

Straight off the bat, it's clear that American sports will be taking centre stage for great swathes of the list, which arguably suggests that fans across the pond are hyping their athletes a little too much.

Meanwhile, it's perhaps not surprising to see Mayweather making an appearance in the list because a few more casual fight fans tend to get a little carried away when they see his 50-0 record.

And wait a second, is that Messi?! I'm sorry, but there's no chance that arguably the greatest player in the history of the world's most popular sport could possibly be overrated.


40. Allen Iverson (basketball)

39. Tony Romo (NFL)

38. Tim Duncan (basketball)

37. Tim Tebow (NFL/baseball)

36. Sidney Crosby (ice hockey)

35. Vince Carter (basketball)

34. Muhammad Ali (boxing)

33. LaMarcus Aldridge (basketball)

32. Manny Ramirez (NFL)

31. Peyton Manning (NFL)

40-31 summary

Geez. Clearly fans get a little ahead of themselves in the NBA because no less than half this section is comprised by basketball players and we're only just beginning to scratch the surface.

But there's no denying that the main takeaway from this part of the list is the borderline-unforgivable selection of Ali who, at least as far as I'm concerned, is the greatest athlete of all time.


30. Barry Bonds (baseball)

29. Tom Brady (NFL)

28. Klay Thompson (basketball)

27. Dirk Nowitzki (basketball)

26. John Cena (WWE)

25. Randy Moss (NFL)

24. Johnny Manziel (NFL)

23. Cam Newton (NFL)

22. Emmitt Smith (NFL)

21. Tiger Woods (golf)

30-21 summary

Tiger?! My eyes are burning at the mere thought of Woods being considered overrated when you'd be hard-pressed to name many athletes who took their sport by storm to degree that he did.

Perhaps it's because of his injury issues and headline-making antics away from the course that have led to his presence but come on guys, the man is a sporting legend with a club in his hand.

However, he can at least console himself with the fact that some fellow big-name athletes are joining him in the top 30 with Brady and Cena proving pretty eye-catching picks.


20. Russell Wilson (NFL)

19. Alex Rodriguez (baseball)

18. Michael Jordan (basketball)

17. Manny Pacquiao (boxing)

16. Stephen Curry (basketball)

15. Ronaldinho (football)

14. Mike Tyson (boxing)

13. Joe Namath (NFL)

12. Danica Patrick (motor sports)

11. Babe Ruth (baseball)

20-11 summary

Call us crazy, but we're inclined to agree with Tyson placing so highly and that's got nothing to do with the man himself because he's undoubtedly one of the greatest heavyweight fighters in history.

However, this is 'overrated' we're talking about here and his cult status, combined with his electrifying style of fighting, definitely lead fans to overstate his standing amongst boxing's greats.

And Ruth is also a strong shout because despite all of his incredible records in baseball, there's no denying that the standards of athleticism were a little bit looser when he stepped up to the plate.


10. Cristiano Ronaldo (football)

9. LeBron James (basketball)

8. Scottie Pippen (basketball)

7. Terrell Owens (NFL)

6. Kobe Bryant (basketball)

5. Eli Manning (NFL)

4. Pele (football)

3. Shaquille O'Neal (basketball)

2. Michelle Wie (golf)

1. David Beckham (football)

Top ten summary

Beckham in first?! Frankly, I couldn't disagree more because I actually think that the England hero is, in fact, underrated with many people forgetting just how talented he was as a footballer.

It's baffling to me that he would be branded overrated when his celebrity status and business endeavours have actually led to some fans overlooking the footballing brilliance that got him there.

As for Pele, mind, it's hard to have much sympathy as far as calling him 'overrated' when he's all-too keen to claim goals that were scored in friendlies.


Maybe there's an argument to be had that the athletes being placed on this list actually mean that they aren't overrated because they're actually being slammed by way of being called overrated.

And does that, therefore, make them underrated? I need a lie down...

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