The 'best player of all time' award is one that will never be awarded, because it's such a touchy subject.
Any Argentinian will tell you Maradona (yes, over Messi), Brazilians will say Pelé (yes, over Ronaldinho and Ronaldo), Cameroonians say Roger Milla, the Northern Irish say George Best, the Dutch say Johan Cruyff and the Germans will probably say Franz Beckenbauer although some would say Gerd Müller. The point is, everyone has an opinion, personally for me it's easily Zinedine Zidane.
The most popular three are probably Pelé, Maradona and Messi. However, there are problems on and off the pitch with all three. Firstly Pelé, one of the best strikers ever, but if a striker's job is to score goals, despite what people say, Pelé is not the best.
Gerd Müller, Pavel Chaidorov, Arthur Friedenreich and Josef Bican have all scored more, Bican has the most competitive goals but played at a much lower level to the likes of Pelé, Müller and Romário (who got 968 FIFA acknowledged goals). But that besides, Pelé is undoubtedly one of the best.
However, when people look back on Pelé career, they see the glory and immediately think of him as a great man, ignoring his massive ego, that today would be held to everything he did wrong, just like the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, even though he's seemed to grow up a lot since joining Real Madrid.
Pelé stopped games for him and clearly thought he was better than everyone else, which, arguably he was. He did, however, acknowledge his teammates help, unlike Maradona, because Diego had none, he effectively won the World Cup by himself (controversy aside).
Of course, he had a decent team around him, but it was nothing compared to Brazil 1970 or even arguably West Germany's team of 1986. Or everyone would have you think Maradona did everything, he didn't score in the final, he still of course, played a massive part. Then we come to Lionel Messi, undoubtedly a great player, but many criticise him for relying on his teammates too much (the same people who rate Pelé so highly).
Messi obviously relies highly on arguably the best team of all time, he's broken club record after club record; however, without an 'amazing' team at Argentina, he's largely failed. Winning only the Olympic Gold Medal, that isn't even a senior player competition, with only three over 24-year-old players allowed. However, he's only 26-years-old.
I mentioned Pelé's performance of his massive ego (that still exists) off the pitch, don't think Maradona doesn't also have one, recently saying Pelé "Isn't worth sh*t!"
Maradona also had drug problems, which is extremely controversial when you see what it did to Adrian Mutu's career. However, the fact Maradona has a religion based on him, Iglesia Maradoniana (Church of Maradona) says something for how highly he is rated by Argentinians. Messi has also had his off the pitch issues after alleged tax avoidance. But no one is perfect.
Looking at them on the pitch they all defy belief, however, arguably none of them are the best player at World Cups. Even in 1986 Maradona wasn't top scorer, despite winning three Pelé isn't the World Cup's all time top scorer and never World Cup top scorer, also, he didn't play a massive part in two of his three winning World Cups and was terrible in England in 1966.
Brazil were so good in 1962, they didn't even need Pelé. The success largely down to Garrincha, Gérson, Jairzinho, Gilmar, Tostão, Zito, Bellini, Vava and Zagallo, NOT Pelé, Gérson (Pelé's Xavi), was not even thanked in a list of players thanked, Gérson effectively made Pelé, whereas Messi publicly thanked Xavi. Messi has never even won a World Cup OR a Copa America though. The point is, it's a team game and both players had amazing teams around them, whereas Maradona (who played for many clubs) was always easily the stand out player.
From the 1970 World Cup, what's most remembered? Probably Carlos Alberto's goal in the final. 1986 World Cup? The Hand of God, not THAT goal vs England. And Messi was largely invisible in 2010 besides a game vs Mexico. To end the discussion of how good players are for their countries, I'll leave you with this thought, Nicklas Bendtner has a better goals per game for country than both Maradona and Messi.
And what's the point of comparing club performances? Pelé played at a far lower level and officially scored 757 goals in 812 games, not 1,283, that makes 526 in friendlies and tour matches. Maradona played on so many different levels in Argentina, Spain and Italy and was also a winger, not a striker. Lionel Messi played with consistently the best club side in history, all fairness, partly down to Messi, but for me, since Puyol's injury problems, Barcelona have been worse than when Messi has been injured. That brings me to my next argument.
Why these three players? Why not a defender? Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Bobby Moore, Franz Beckenbauer, Titus Bramble, Maldini or Fabio Cannavaro? Or even a goalkeeper? Lev Yashin, Gordon Banks, Iker Casillas (before 2010), Gigi Buffon, van der Sar, Peter Schmeichel, Oliver Kahn, Walter Zenga, Petr Čech or Jean-Marie Pfaff? Why is it always the best player people ask for. Because who can compare Maradona and Pelé when they were completely different players at different levels?
Maradona and Messi is understandable because they're so similar in their careers, both Barcelona players, scored with their hands, had a run from the half-way line and scored, Argentina's best two forward players (apparently). Or, because football is entertainment, why not the player who brings most entertainment, in my opinion Zinedine 'Zizou' Zidane. The fact is, there is no 'best player', there may be a player who's bet in a certain position but that would still be highly debatable.
So, who is the best player in the world? Is it the one with the most goals, competitive and non competitive? Well then it's Pavel Chaidorov, who doesn't have a Wikipedia page, is it the one with the most World Cup wins? Well that's not only Pelé and other players played a bigger part.
Is it that who scores the best goal? Depends what kind of goal you like then, that would make mine Ronnie Radford, goal vs Newcastle one of the FA Cup's greatest. There is no greatest player, because it's an opinion based subject.
To be in the best team ever is something to truly be proud of, more than 'best player' according to a few guys at FIFA.
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