Pele, Best, Maradona or Cristiano Ronaldo? How does CR rank with the best?

Comparisons can be a pain in the backside. My dad says that nobody was ever better than Tom Finney or Puskas, my older brother says George Best and Pele have no equals, I believe Maradona to be the best ever and my son says that Cristiano Ronaldo has more than the lot of them put together.

It has always been this way. We always think that the top players of ‘our generation’ are the best of all time. It is impossible to compare these great players because they are all from a different place and time. Of course George Best wouldn’t be as quick, as fit or strong enough to play in today’s Premiership and Ronaldo would have been even more of a phenomenon than he is now if you transported him back thirty or forty years.

You can only judge them by how good they were amongst their contemporaries. It is no good listening to anecdotal evidence because the fans of each player will only tell you why their particular favourite is the best of all time. The only way to judge this fairly is to look at the facts and figures. So let’s do it:

Pele

PeleSantos 1956-1974

Domestic League games – 605
Domestic League goals – 589

International Club games – 18
International Club goals – 24

Best scoring season – 47 in 40 games 1959

International caps (Brazil) – 92
International goals – 77

Honours
3 World Cup winners medals. (Didn’t play in 1962 final through injury but was awarded a medal some years later)
19 Domestic club honours.
Named footballer of the century by FIFA. (Voted for by panel of experts. Maradona won an online public poll)
Named athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee.


Pele’s brilliance

George Best

George BestManchester United 1963-1974

Domestic League games – 361
Domestic League goals – 137

International Club games – 34
International Club goals – 11

Best scoring season – 32 in 52 games 1968

International caps (N Ireland) – 37
International goals – 9

Honours
European Cup winner.
2 Domestic club honours.
European Footballer of the Year.
Football Writers Player of the Year.
English football Hall of Fame.


George Best’s brilliance

Diego Maradona

Diego MaradonaBoca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli 1981-1991

Domestic League games – 357
Domestic League goals – 181

International Club games – 32
International Club goals – 13

Best scoring season – 21 in 39 games 1988

International caps (Argentina) – 91
International goals – 34

Honours
World Cup winner
UEFA Cup winner
8 Domestic club honours
World Player of the Year
Named footballer of the century by an online poll. (Pele won the award as given by a panel of experts)
South American Footballer of the Year x 5


Diego Maradona’s brilliance

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano RonaldoManchester United 2003 – present

Domestic League games – 157
Domestic League goals – 61

International Club games – 43
International Club goals – 11

Best scoring season – 36 in 39 games 2008 so far

International caps (Portugal) – 54
International goals – 20

Honours
3 Domestic Club honours
Selected in FIFpro World XI
Selected in UEFA Team of the Year x 2
UEFA 2004 Team of the tournament
PFA Young Player of the Year x 2
PFA Footballer of the Year
Portuguese Footballer of the Year


Cristiano Ronaldo’s brilliance

So there we have the stats. What do we make of them? If you need some more help let’s look at what other people think of them and in some cases, what they think of themselves.

“Comparing Paul Gascoigne to Pele is like comparing Rolf Harris to Rembrandt” — Rodney Marsh.
“For 20 years they have been asking me the same question, who is the greatest? Maradona or Pele? I reply that all you have to do is look at the facts – how many goals did he score with his right foot or with his head?” – Pele

“George Best was able to use either foot. Sometimes he seemed to have six of them” – Sir Matt Busby
“Maradona good, Pele better, George Best” – Famous Irish saying

“I worked hard all my life for this. Those who say I don’t deserve anything, that it all came easy, can kiss my arse.” — Maradona
“Maradona is our maximum term of reference. No one embodies our essence better. No one bears our emblem more nobly. To no other, in the last twenty years, have we offered up so much passion. Argentina is Maradona, Maradona is Argentina.” – Argentinian psychologist

“Everyone went crazy over Wayne Rooney, but I get more excited by Cristiano Ronaldo.” -George Best
“There have been a few players described as the new George Best over the years, but this is the first time it’s been a compliment to me.” -George Best on Cristiano Ronaldo

So there we have it. It’s decision time. Does Cristiano Ronaldo deserve to be in this company yet? Could any of the other three score the goal that Ronaldo scored against Roma last night? Pele maybe. So if these are the greatest ever, what order do they go in?

I’ll go first and give my reasons:

1. Pele – a) 3 World Cup winners medals b) Scoring record c) Apart from Viagra, no drugs as far as we know d) He says he was better than Maradona

2. Diego Maradona – a) Won a World Cup almost single-handedly b) Talent and attitude, i.e. Kiss my arse c) Just too many drugs

3. Cristiano Ronaldo – a) Already performed at European and World Cups b) George Best said he is better than he was c) Hasn’t quite got the longevity yet

4. George Best – a) Wonderful player but Ronaldo has beaten his record b) Not his fault to be born in Northern Ireland but no major International success c) Too much booze.

Over to you.

Graham Fisher writes at Views of a fan.

Cristiano Ronaldo: A Touch of Humility
Arsenal v Liverpool Preview - will Liverpool play for another draw?

127 Comments

  1. Pho911 3 April, 2008
  2. i chew on jawbreakers 3 April, 2008
  3. Andrei 3 April, 2008
  4. Jorgen 3 April, 2008
  5. MDH 4 April, 2008
  6. brandon 4 April, 2008
  7. Ipanema Bob 4 April, 2008
  8. Ahmed Bilal 4 April, 2008
  9. Ahmed Bilal 4 April, 2008
  10. goalcentre.com 4 April, 2008
  11. Utsav 4 April, 2008
  12. Red Ranter 4 April, 2008
  13. chef barca 4 April, 2008
  14. Kenny 4 April, 2008
  15. SpiralArchitect 4 April, 2008
  16. Ahmed Bilal 4 April, 2008
  17. SpiralArchitect 4 April, 2008
  18. SpiralArchitect 4 April, 2008
  19. Dave 4 April, 2008
  20. Andrei 4 April, 2008
  21. DEVO 4 April, 2008
  22. Amjad 4 April, 2008
  23. Felipe 4 April, 2008
  24. Graham Fisher 4 April, 2008
  25. Raed 4 April, 2008
  26. enea 4 April, 2008
  27. Steve 4 April, 2008
  28. Steve 4 April, 2008
  29. Raed 4 April, 2008
  30. Anthony 4 April, 2008
  31. Donal 5 April, 2008
  32. Ahmed Bilal 5 April, 2008
  33. Raed 5 April, 2008
  34. Raed 5 April, 2008
  35. Bobby 5 April, 2008
  36. Liverpool_Fan 5 April, 2008
  37. Kuzorra 6 April, 2008
  38. Muhammad Khan 8 April, 2008
  39. Izaq 8 April, 2008
  40. Shomshir 14 April, 2008
  41. Ron-Al-Do 15 April, 2008
  42. tony montana 16 April, 2008
  43. master 16 April, 2008
  44. pupsik 17 April, 2008
  45. somjithazra 19 April, 2008
  46. somjithazra 19 April, 2008
  47. Tom 23 April, 2008
  48. Sheraz 24 April, 2008
  49. George Best 25 April, 2008
  50. Owen 26 April, 2008
  51. alisunday 28 April, 2008
  52. Tom 30 April, 2008
  53. Shomshir 3 May, 2008
  54. Owen 3 May, 2008
  55. A. 8 May, 2008
  56. A. 8 May, 2008
  57. A. 8 May, 2008
  58. A. 8 May, 2008
  59. nandi wardhana 13 May, 2008
  60. nandi wardhana 13 May, 2008
  61. A. 13 May, 2008
  62. Old Expert 16 May, 2008
  63. Welsh Wizard 16 May, 2008
  64. A. 17 May, 2008
  65. old expert 19 May, 2008
  66. old expert 19 May, 2008
  67. A. 19 May, 2008
  68. Michael 12 June, 2008
  69. A. 13 June, 2008
  70. orange 1 July, 2008
  71. malek 11 July, 2008
  72. Mengo 8 September, 2008
  73. Raza 9 September, 2008
  74. Pepe Crow 23 October, 2008
  75. Tihamer 23 October, 2008
  76. Amateur 29 October, 2008
  77. Endothermic 25 November, 2008
  78. Ben 11 December, 2008
  79. Brian 26 January, 2009
  80. Kevin McCann 1 February, 2009
  81. Boris 2 February, 2009
  82. Tihamer 4 February, 2009
  83. Boris 5 February, 2009
  84. Tihamer 5 February, 2009
  85. Boris 6 February, 2009
  86. Tihamer 7 February, 2009
  87. Boris 7 February, 2009
  88. Tihamer 7 February, 2009
  89. Boris 8 February, 2009
  90. Tihamer 8 February, 2009
  91. Boris 9 February, 2009
  92. Tihamer 9 February, 2009
  93. Boris 10 February, 2009
  94. Tihamer 10 February, 2009
  95. Boris 10 February, 2009
  96. Tihamer 10 February, 2009
  97. Boris 11 February, 2009
  98. Tihamer 11 February, 2009
  99. Boris 12 February, 2009
  100. Tihamer 12 February, 2009
  101. Mithun Mack K. 19 May, 2009
  102. Malunga 10 June, 2009
  103. Ginga 17 June, 2009
  104. phil 21 June, 2009
  105. Stakh 3 July, 2009
  106. Deluxe 19 July, 2009
  107. Muhammad Maklet Safin 19 August, 2009
  108. damo 10 October, 2009
  109. zobondo 20 October, 2009
  110. Bob Davies 26 October, 2009
  111. JT Rider 23 December, 2009
  112. Sil stoia 3 February, 2010
  113. CARON 3 February, 2010
    • Pedro 30 April, 2010
  114. Av 20 March, 2010
  115. Dejan Nóbrega 22 March, 2010
  116. Dino 6 April, 2010
  117. Cristiano Ronaldo 14 April, 2010
  118. Pedro 30 April, 2010
  119. Dinesh 7 May, 2010
  120. Buzz 13 June, 2010
  121. Sabyasachi Subramaniam-Xin Hua 19 June, 2010
  122. jiyand nawab deedag 27 June, 2010
  123. mohsen 3 July, 2010
  124. saeed 17 July, 2010
  125. biach 21 July, 2010
  126. James Henderson 6 August, 2010