It’s a subject that’s passionately discussed on the terraces as well as in pubs and homes by football fans around the country – just who are the world’s greatest football players of all time? While there is no definitive answer as we all have our favourites, there are some iconic names we can all agree on.
When it comes to betting on the world’s top goal scorers, we pay tribute to football’s biggest heroes to date.
Alongside Maradona, Pele holds iconic status as one of the world’s greatest soccer players. During the height of his career the Brazilian forward was also the highest paid sportsman in the world. Pele has been on the World Cup winning Brazil team three times, the first in 1958 when, at the age of 17, he scored six goals in four football matches, bringing him to the attention of the world. He went on to average almost a goal per game throughout his career. He also won six league titles with his team, Santos, before playing for the New York Cosmos. Pele finally retired in 1977 and remains one of the most prolific goal scorers of all time.
Following his recent death aged 60, Argentina’s president declared three days of mourning for Diego Maradona, while fans from Naples, one of his last clubs, took to the streets to express their grief. Such is the adoration for Maradona, despite his at times controversial career, not least in the 1986 World Cup and his ‘Hand of God’ moment in the England-Argentina quarter final. Joint winner with Pele of the FIFA Player of the Century award, there is no doubting his precocious talent on the pitch, earning him 91 caps for his home country. Known as El Pibe de Oro – or The Golden Boy – there simply cannot be a list of football’s biggest heroes without the colourful Maradona.
One of the world’s most recognisable football players, Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for the most goals scored in the UEFA Champions League. Number 7 shirt for Portuguese-side Juventus, Ronaldo has also won four Champion League titles with Real Madrid and was signed to play for Manchester United at the age of just 18. At Man U, Ronaldo helped the team to win three successive Premier League titles as well as the UEFA Champions League. He has also twice won the Ballon D’Or – widely regarded as one of the premier player awards – and once held the title of the world’s most expensive player, following his transfer to Juventus for £88 million, making him an easy shoo-in for our greatest players list.
Our final iconic soccer star is also considered a fierce rival to Ronaldo when it comes to players still on the pitch. Argentinian Messi has the edge on the Juventus player when it comes to the Ballon D’Or, as he holds a superior six titles and is widely considered by today’s fans as one of the greatest players of all time. Captain of Barcelona, where he has spent his career, Messi is also the revered captain of his home country’s team. A prolific goal scorer with a talent boarding on genius on the pitch, Messi has scored over 700 goals for his club and country and has taken Argentina to three consecutive World Cup finals. He is now one of the world’s highest paid soccer stars, becoming only the second ever football player to see his career earnings surpass $1 billion.