Tyson, Ronaldo, Messi, Mayweather: Top 50 most overrated athletes ever amid Beckham debate

  • Kobe Tong

Is David Beckham overrated?

That’s the question on everybody’s lips on social media at the moment as Piers Morgan celebrated Odell Beckham Jr’s victory at Super Bowl LVI by tweeting: “Great to watch a Beckham who can actually play football.”

The Arsenal fan and broadcaster then clarified his stance when Gary Lineker fired backed: “You might dislike him, for whatever reason, but David Beckham was a great footballer. One of our finest.”

Debate about David Beckham

Morgan posted in response: “You might want to suck up to him, for whatever reason, but Beckham was the most overrated player in history. Wouldn’t have got onto the Arsenal Invincibles bench.”

Naturally, as you can imagine, the Twitter back and forth didn’t end there with Morgan calling Beckham everything from “Brass Balls,” to “a fame-hungry snail with dumb haircuts.” Ouch.

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Let’s start easy: who’s this iconic character?

And while it’s hard to imagine the England legend himself caring about Morgan banging the drum that he was overrated, the simple fact of the matter is that it has unfurled into a wider debate online.

After all, it’s a complex debate because the crux of the argument isn’t that Beckham was in any way a subpar footballer, but whether or not he was as good as the fan hype makes him out to be.

Well, Morgan haters look away, because there seems to be an eye-opening set of data in favour of his argument with Beckham having actually been voted as the most overrated athlete in history.

England’s David Beckham sits on the bench after his substitution during their World Cup 2006 quarter-final soccer match against Portugal in Gelsenkirchen July 1, 2006. FIFA RESTRICTION – NO MOBILE USE REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY)

The 50 most overrated athletes in history

Over on the popular ranking website thetoptens.com, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid currently sits first on their interactive list on the ‘Top Ten Most Overrated Athletes’.

As such, we thought that it would be rude not to look at the wider list, which extends beyond the titular ‘Top Ten’, to see which other athletes are in the conversation for being the most over-hyped in the business.

Considering the order of the athletes is decided by the votes of sports fans themselves, it certainly makes for a fascinating read, so be sure to check out who has been nominated in the top 50 most overrated athletes in history below:

50. Brett Favre (American football)

49. Ricky Hatton (boxing)

Boxing – Richard Towers v Lucas Browne – Heavyweight – Hull Arena – 2/11/13 Promoter Ricky Hatton Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Craig Brough EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

48. Michael Vick (American football)

47. Michael Sam (American football)

46. Floyd Mayweather Jr (boxing)

45. Reggie Bush (American football)

44. Antoine Walker (basketball)

43. Wilt Chamberlain (basketball)

42. Lionel Messi (football)

Soccer Football – The Ballon d’Or Awards – Theatre du Chatelet, Paris, France – November 29, 2021 Paris St Germain’s Lionel Messi during the awards REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

41. Yao Ming (basketball)

40. Allen Iverson (basketball)

39. Tony Romo (American football)

38. Tim Tebow (American football)

37. Tim Duncan (basketball)

36. Sidney Crosby (ice hockey)

35. Vince Carter (basketball)

34. Muhammad Ali (boxing)

1978: American boxer Muhammad Ali addressing the crowd before his fight with Leon Spinks in New Orleans, in which Ali went on to regain the World Heavyweight title. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

33. LaMarcus Aldridge (basketball)

32. Manny Ramirez (American football)

31. Peyton Manning (American football)

30. Barry Bonds (baseball)

29. Tom Brady (American football)

FILE PHOTO: Oct 3, 2021; Foxboro, MA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) yells to the crowd as he takes the field to face the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – 16887252/File Photo

28. Klay Thompson (basketball)

27. Dirk Nowitzki (basketball)

26. John Cena (wrestling)

25. Randy Moss (American football)

24. Johnny Manziel (American football)

23. Cam Newton (American football)

22. Emmitt Smith (American football)

21. Tiger Woods (golf)

Golf – Masters – Augusta National Golf Club – Augusta, Georgia, U.S. – April 14, 2019 – Tiger Woods of the U.S. celebrates on the 18th hole after winning the 2019 Masters. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

20. Russell Wilson (American football)

19. Alex Rodriguez (baseball)

18. Michael Jordan (basketball)

17. Manny Pacquiao (boxing)

16. Ronaldinho (football)

Brazil’s Ronaldinho reacts during their Group F World Cup 2006 soccer match against Croatia in Berlin June 13, 2006. FIFA RESTRICTION – NO MOBILE USE REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski (GERMANY)

15. Stephen Curry (basketball)

14. Mike Tyson (boxing)

13. Joe Namath (American football)

12. Babe Ruth (baseball)

11. Danica Patrick (motor racing)

10. Cristiano Ronaldo (football)

Soccer Football – Premier League – Manchester United v Aston Villa – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – September 25, 2021 Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo REUTERS/Phil Noble EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

9. LeBron James (basketball)

8. Terrell Owens (American football)

7. Scottie Pippen (basketball)

6. Kobe Bryant (basketball)

5. Eli Manning (American football)

4. Pele (football)

3. Shaquille O’Neal (basketball)

2. Michelle Wie West (golf)

  1. David Beckham (football)
England’s David Beckham looks up from the bench during their World Cup 2006 quarter-final soccer match against Portugal in Gelsenkirchen July 1, 2006. FIFA RESTRICTION – NO MOBILE USE REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY)

The fans agree with Morgan

As painful as it might be for some people to admit, the collective votes of sports fans actually align with the opinion of Morgan.

It’s clear that supporters around the world have pooh-poohed the hype around Beckham in their droves despite fellow big names such as Jordan, Woods, Tyson, Pele and Bryant also being called into question.

Nevertheless, you can’t help feeling as though Beckham has gotten something of a bum deal here with the wider celebrity narrative swirling around him often taking away from his achievements in football.

Manchester United’s David Beckham chases the ball during training at the Stadium Delle Alpi in Turin February 24, 2003. Manchester United are due face Juventus in their Champions League group D match in Turin on February 25. REUTERS/Ian Hodgson IH/NMB/AH

It would be easy to think that Beckham was in the GOAT conversation based on how famous he was if you didn’t know any better when, actually, he was ‘just’ one of England and the Premier League’s finest.

Don’t think for a second that Beckham not being an all-time sporting great is in any way a criticism, but the moral of the story is that it’s easy to see why his global profile could lead to him becoming overrated.

However, with all due respect to Morgan, even in a world where we universally agreed upon ‘Becks’ being overrated that doesn’t mean that he’s the fame-obsessed hype job that the Arsenal fan is making him out to be.

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