When Messi wins the World Cup, is the G.O.A.T. debate over?
As Lionel Messi finally wins the football’s highest honour, his case for being the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.) is stronger than ever. We investigate the dialogue and the participants, all of whom are legends.
For many fans, Messi’s achievement in winning the biggest award that had eluded him throughout his entire career also ends the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) debate. He was unquestionably one of the mere greatest players to ever play the game, and but his career was frequently criticised for having a hole the main size of a FIFA World Cup trophy in his trophy cabinet. Not anymore. Messi, like his footballing predecessor, Diego Maradona, has led his football-obsessed nation to the main top of the international game.
The G.O.A.T. main debate is football’s most contentious debate, eliciting passionate opinions and a great deal of disagreement. Due to fan allegiances, and the discussion frequently drives people to extreme positions, elevating one player while demeaning another. Finally, there is no precise metric for determining a player’s “greatness” across eras and contexts. But before forming an opinion, and it is possible to engage in dialogue that also respects the context of football.
Pele, the all-time great than Messi?
Pele was the first international football superstar. He scored a main staggering 757 goals in 831 official games, and making him arguably the highest-paid athlete of his time (1956–1977). Over the course of his career, he averaged just under a goal per game. He was an underappreciated creative player who had an unprecedented 8 assists during his main World Cup career. He is the only main player in history to have won the World Cup three times in four attempts (1958, 1962, and 1970).
The fact that Pele had last played was both an advantage and a disadvantage for his claim to be the G.O.A.T. On the one hand, and nostalgia elevates Pele, whose legend has grown over time, to a mythical status. At the same time, many contemporary fans question the environment in which he played, particularly the level of competition he encountered. Without extensive game footage, the debate over Pele’s greatness will always be contentious and impossible to resolve.
However, his absence would undoubtedly make football a worse sport.
If Pele represented the game’s pristine nature, Maradona represented its fallen angel. Maradona, known for leading a free-spirited life, embodied the idea of a rebellious genius. He had a heart to match his skill, which defied logic. Referees used to be much more tolerant of opponents kicking a player to the ground when they couldn’t legally stop them. Maradona, however, always stood back up and continued to play as if nothing had happened.
Maradona’s claim to be the G.O.A.T. is based on how talented he was and also how he made everyone who watched him feel, despite the fact that his actual output was modest in comparison to some of the other players on this list and his career peak was brief. Importantly, he consistently delivered, with his World Cup triumphs in 1986 widely regarded as the best individual performance in football history.
Maradona is regarded as the ideal player for football romantics everywhere he played, from Napoli to Buenos Aires.
The game of football is one of the most popular pastimes in the world. Cruyff, a technique master, overcame his physical limitations with sheer football brilliance and willpower. His positional versatility and tactical acumen established him as the father of “total football,” alongside coach Rinus Michels. In a 1999 poll, he was named European Player of the Century, finishing second only to Pele in World Player voting.
Cruyff’s case for the G.O.A.T. is based on how revolutionary his play style and football philosophies have been. His influence helped pave the way for modern positional play, which emphasises making space in a variety of situations on the field. Cruyff’s legacy has had an impact on modern football like no other, from Pep Guardiola’s unrivalled Barcelona team of the late 2000s and early 2010s to Spain’s World Cup-winning team in 2010. Cruyff had a very successful managerial career after hanging up his boots.
Zinedine Zidane is a complete midfielder.
Zizou, as he was affectionately known, remains the gold standard for midfield excellence. During a 17-year playing career that included France’s first-ever World Cup in 1998, he won every single individual and team award. His style, vision, passing, ball control, and technique were all well-known. He was an all-around playmaker. Zidane also had a rebellious streak, which only added to his legend.
The breadth of Zidane’s game, as well as his ability to will his team to victory in any way imaginable, support his claim to G.O.A.T status. Zidane was named the game’s MVP in the 1998 World Cup final, scoring two goals with his head despite the fact that heading was probably his last known talent. However, Zidane’s genius lay in his ability to be a total footballer. Zidane continues to set the standard for excellence in midfield even today.
Cristiano Ronaldo raises the bar for goal scoring
Cristiano Ronaldo’s prolific goal-scoring output at his peak has spoiled football fans. Cristiano began his main career as a flashy but occasionally ineffective winger, but he developed into a goal-scoring machine during his prime. Cristiano was a physical specimen and a natural finisher, whether with his feet, body, or head. He has achieved every personal and club honour possible throughout his career, and including an unlikely triumph in the 2016 Euros.
In order to maintain previously unheard-of goal-scoring totals and establish a legendary rivalry with Messi, Cristiano must be considered the greatest of all time. Over the course of his club career, he has scored 118 goals for Portugal and assisted on another 636 goals in 651 games. At the peak of his career, he was averaging around morethan 40 club goals and 10 assists per season. Cristiano’s ability to normalise goal scoring over time is what makes him so special.
Ronaldo Nazario, a passing celebrity
Many consider Brazil’s Ronaldo, whose career has been severely hampered by injuries, to be the most gifted player of his generation. Il Fenomeno, as he was affectionately known, moved at a breakneck pace and made quick decisions to outwit opponents before they even realised what was happening. During his formative years, he displayed video game numbers in a variety of settings. For example, during his one and only season with Barcelona in 1996-1997, he scored 47 goals in 51 appearances.
He continued to play at the highest level until 2007, but knee injuries at the turn of the century cost him some of his early lustre. Compared to many other people on this list, Fenomeno had a shorter career and also an even shorter peak. His G.O.A.T. claim, on the other hand, is based on the fact that, prior to being sidelined by injuries, his play and output were unrivalled in football history.
One of his greatest accomplishments was rejoining the Brazil team after an injury in 2002 and becoming the key player in a productive World Cup campaign.
Lionel Messi keeps up his excellent form.
Leo Messi combines Maradona’s charisma with unrivalled output. He has contributed to another 350 goals over the course of his career, giving him a total of 592 goals (club and international games).
Along the way, he has astounded both players and spectators with his sublime talent, foresight, and audacity to attempt the impossibly difficult. All of this is happening at a time when sophisticated analytics and video footage can help opponents understand every aspect of a player’s game, including previously overlooked subtle tendencies.
Messi’s case for G.O.A.T. is straightforward. Consistent excellence In the past, players of his calibre had brief, effervescent peaks before fading due to accidents, apathy, or simply becoming “figured out.” Diego Maradona, Messi’s personal hero, is the ideal illustration. The best evidence of Messi’s greatness is the length of time he has managed to maintain his magic.
This World Cup victory is the perfect way to end a legendary career. The completion of his trophy cabinet solidifies his claim to be the greatest player to ever play the game. He is powerless to intervene further.