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Soccer guys....who is the greatest player ever?


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20 minutes ago, GROOT said:

I know it's subjective, but i like to hear answers from older guys who have a long term perspective. Pele/Maradonna/CR7/Messi...or anyone else. Who was the greatest?

I don't follow soccer, have never watched any game more than a few minutes out of curiosity.  But, even I know about Pele.

 

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For me, Pele. Combo of skill and winning at all levels, plus the joy he brought to the game.

But Messi is absolutely incredible to watch- honestly never seen anybody like him able to do seemingly wahtever he wants. Agree with NR that his lack of hardware at the national level hurts his overall rating.

Others to add... Beckenbauer and Kruyff, and my all-time fave Zidane.

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I don't want to undersell CRonaldo, but he's not quite there for me, in spite of his incredible, skills, goal scoring rate and abs.

I've said it a bunch in the soccer threads- but we're incredibly lucky to have two of the greatest ever playing at the same time right now. Plus James Milner.

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Part of what makes the comparison so hard is that it's very difficult to rate Pele's club soccer career.  He scored a ton of goals, but competition in Brazil in different competitions was extremely variable.  Brazil didn't have a nationwide league until after 1970.  Pele's club career was played largely against teams from Sao Paolo.  Pele's six Brazilian titles were from winning the Taca de Brazil (like the FA Cup for Brazil).   So that gave him six chances to win the Copa Liberatadores as the best team in South America.  He did it twice, in 1962 and 1963 (and those teams went on to beat the then clear best team in Europe, Benfica, in the Intercontinental Cup.  But those are the only continental or higher club titles that Pele won in 19 years with Santos.  Internationally, he really won two World Cups, not three, because he was injured for the 1962 tournament that Garrincha won almost single-handedly.    

You look at the YouTube highlights of Pele and his skill certainly jumps out.  But so does some atrocious goalkeeping.  And the ball looks like a beach ball.  It's just hard to compare with Messi.  Maradonna is also a tough comparison.  He has even less "black ink" in club football.  But he did win two Serie A titles in an era when Milan was clearly the best team in the world.  

The thing is that I've seen more Kylian Mbappe matches than I've seen combined Pele and Maradonna matches  And Mbappe is 20 years old.  I've seen hundreds of Messi and Ronaldo matches.  I don't know how I can compare that to a handful of full matches, a bunch of video clips, and about 1000 rewatches of Victory, which represents my exposure to Maradonna and Pele tape.  

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The eras I mentioned also play a huge effect:

* In Pele's era there was very little to any pressure on the ball.  It favored offensive players which is why soccer's highest scoring came in that era

* By the time Maradona was in full flight, full on assaults on offensive players were common.  Maradona was the most violently fouled player ever.   This led directly to the idea of the flair South American players flopping today as an ingrained protection mode.

* In Messi's era, the players are significantly more protected by refs, but at the same time, defensive organization is at an all time high historically.

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IMO there are two players you can seriously consider in terms of career-long impact:  Messi and Maradona.

  • Messi has already played more 1st-division club games (all competitions) than Maradona did, and over a third of Maradona's were in Argentina (208/590) while all of Messi's were for Barca (677).
  • Messi currently has 606 goals to Maradona's 310.  Not sure what a player could do on a field that would close a 300 goal gap.  YMMV
  • They didn't keep assist stats when Maradona played, but Messi has 230 to go with his other-worldly goal total.  It seems unlikely that Maradona could have done enough here to make up much of the gap in goals.
  • Maradona was a shell of himself by 30, playing for Sevilla and then back to Argentina at 31.  Messi is still putting up video-game numbers at 31 for one of the two or three best teams in the world without any sign of slowing down.
  • Maradona did win a World Cup, but IMO six-game tournaments are a flukey way to judge when we have 500+ other games.  Even so, Messi has 65 goals in 85 games for Argentina while Maradona had 34 in 91.

It's Messi for me, and it's not close.

Do agree with Ramsay that the original Ronaldo was comparable at his peak though.  It was like watching a super hero movie when he played.  The Bo Jackson of international soccer.  I can't think of anyone else like him.

Edited by Dinsy Ejotuz
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12 minutes ago, Dinsy Ejotuz said:

 

  • Maradona was a shell of himself by 30, playing for Sevilla and then back to Argentina at 31. 

ingesting outrageous amounts of cocaine certainly effected his career.   He was playing at the highest level with a full on drug addiction, something we never see today.

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28 minutes ago, Dinsy Ejotuz said:

 

  • Maradona did win the two World Cups, but IMO six-game tournaments are a flukey way to judge

he only won one World Cup in 1986.   He did win two Copa America's as well.

I agree that this can be an unfair but I don't think it is flukey.   If you look at any random list of the best 25+ players of all time, Messi, Cryuff, and George Best stand out as the biggest names that never won a major trophy(World Cup or Euro/Copa) and in Best's case, he had an obvious hindrance playing for Northern Ireland.

Edited by NewlyRetired
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1 hour ago, Ramsay Hunt Experience said:

In terms of YouTube highlight videos, I'd say it's a two-man race between Messi and Il Fenomeno (Brazilian Ronaldo), who I still think is the greatest combination of skill and athleticism the game has ever seen.

You mean the Fat Poacher?

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5 hours ago, El Floppo said:

I don't want to undersell CRonaldo, but he's not quite there for me, in spite of his incredible, skills, goal scoring rate and abs.

I've said it a bunch in the soccer threads- but we're incredibly lucky to have two of the greatest ever playing at the same time right now. Plus James Milner.

Not only are we lucky to have them playing at the same time, but we're also lucky with getting to see them go head-to-head so often over the years in the Champions League and tons of clasicos.

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26 minutes ago, AcerFC said:

Cruyff 

I have seen a couple of all time type lists that put him at the top.   The fact that he was a chain smoker made this even more amazing.   He smoked both right before the game and at halftime

His game with modern training and nutrition knowledge would translate to an insane level today.

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Apropos of nothing I saw a great Cruyuff quote on Twitter today.  "Technique isn't juggling a ball 1000 times.  Anyone can do that if they practice enough.*  Join a circus.  Technique is hitting the right ball, at the right pace, to the right foot of your teammate."

*  No amount of practice made me able to juggle a ball for ####.  

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We definitely shouldn't undersell CRo7.  The fact that he is very nearly Messi's statistical equal, at least since moving from Man U, is remarkable.  Because nobody else is even close.  It's not like this is a super offensive friendly era.  It's not the late 80's, when George Weah could win the Ballon D'Or without cracking 20 league goals, but it's not an insane scoring era.  And very good strikers like Lewadowski and Ibra, playing in the same era, really don't compare to Messi and Ronaldo.  And Ronaldo deserves tons of credit for reworking his game as he he's had to rely less on his raw athleticism on the wing to become a pure CF.  I mean, he's still athletic as hell, especially in the air, but his legs aren't 75% of what they were.  And he still keeps scoring.  

But even when he does incredible things, he's never matching Messi for the pure aesthetic joy you get in watching him play.  Messi pretty much embodies the type of player that brings joy to soccer fans.  He's the best dribbler on the field/planet/universe.  He's the best passer on the field, and he played Xavi!  His left foot is the most lethal finishing machine I've ever seen.  He can pick any corner with it.  Blast shots with it.  Curl shots with it.  Chip keepers with it while on a dead run.  On any other player, his right foot would be considered dangerous.  He's not bad with it at all.  He's just Michaelangelo with his left.  

One testament to Messi's greatness is because the expectations are so high, and he hasn't won a World Cup, nobody seems to talk about the fact that he might have scored the greatest World Cup goal ever last year.  I saw a clip of that goal against Nigeria again a couple of months ago, and I had forgotten how amazing it was.  

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10 minutes ago, Ramsay Hunt Experience said:

Apropos of nothing I saw a great Cruyuff quote on Twitter today.  "Technique isn't juggling a ball 1000 times.  Anyone can do that if they practice enough.*  Join a circus.  Technique is hitting the right ball, at the right pace, to the right foot of your teammate."

*  No amount of practice made me able to juggle a ball for ####.  

made me think of my favorite Maradona video :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7ZjU-6iSwk

Klinsmann: "There were 70,000 people in the stadium and Maradona went on the field. We’re on the other side of the field, warming up like Germans: seriously, focused. There's music playing, the song "Live is Life", and to the rhythm of the song Maradona started juggling the ball. So we stopped our warm-up. What's this guy doing? He's juggling off his shoulders. And we couldn't warm up anymore because we had to watch this guy."

 

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6 minutes ago, NewlyRetired said:

made me think of my favorite Maradona video :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7ZjU-6iSwk

Klinsmann: "There were 70,000 people in the stadium and Maradona went on the field. We’re on the other side of the field, warming up like Germans: seriously, focused. There's music playing, the song "Live is Life", and to the rhythm of the song Maradona started juggling the ball. So we stopped our warm-up. What's this guy doing? He's juggling off his shoulders. And we couldn't warm up anymore because we had to watch this guy."

 

Still not the greatest soccer video of all time.

Every soccer thread regular knows what this video will be without having to look. :wolf:

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3 hours ago, Ramsay Hunt Experience said:

In terms of YouTube highlight videos, I'd say it's a two-man race between Messi and Il Fenomeno (Brazilian Ronaldo), who I still think is the greatest combination of skill and athleticism the game has ever seen.

If we're only using YouTube highlight videos, its Giroud in a landslide.

 

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2 hours ago, NewlyRetired said:

ingesting outrageous amounts of cocaine certainly effected his career.   He was playing at the highest level with a full on drug addiction, something we never see today.

Maradona also got the #### kicked out of him regularly over a decade in Spain and Italy.  I don't know how much that affected him long term. He certainly suffered much more physical abuse than any modern superstar player.  

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3 hours ago, Ramsay Hunt Experience said:

Apropos of nothing I saw a great Cruyuff quote on Twitter today.  "Technique isn't juggling a ball 1000 times.  Anyone can do that if they practice enough.*  Join a circus.  Technique is hitting the right ball, at the right pace, to the right foot of your teammate."

*  No amount of practice made me able to juggle a ball for ####.  

Funny... I recall something in training we always called the Cruyff drills...which were rote ball work, breaking down and repeating the same move with the ball over and over....I assumed it was attributesld to him. But yeah- just ask Bebe about pulling and translating slick street skills on to an actual field 

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4 hours ago, Slapdash said:

Not only are we lucky to have them playing at the same time, but we're also lucky with getting to see them go head-to-head so often over the years in the Champions League and tons of clasicos.

PLUS JAMES MILNER

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9 minutes ago, El Floppo said:

you guys dissing 4th division finnish soccer? fightin' woids.

this video should be shown to every young American soccer player.   You watch these highlights and it is unimaginable that he did not become at least a decent pro.  His words at the beginning here are chilling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_LraDC8E9Y

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5 minutes ago, NewlyRetired said:

this video should be shown to every young American soccer player.   You watch these highlights and it is unimaginable that he did not become at least a decent pro.  His words at the beginning here are chilling

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_LraDC8E9Y

the play at 2:35... I watched live. to this day, one of the greatest displays of skill I've seen from a US player of any age. and that was against Brazil, in the youth world cup (u20? maybe u17)... and he was doing it to Brazil all game. plus that was Jozy scoring that goal. like the rest of the US, I figured we were in for something really, really special with Freddy. as was the Finnish 4th division.

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On 4/7/2019 at 6:40 PM, El Floppo said:

the play at 2:35... I watched live. to this day, one of the greatest displays of skill I've seen from a US player of any age. and that was against Brazil, in the youth world cup (u20? maybe u17)... and he was doing it to Brazil all game. plus that was Jozy scoring that goal. like the rest of the US, I figured we were in for something really, really special with Freddy. as was the Finnish 4th division.

I've always wondered about his age.  It's not fair to do so, but baseball has taught us to be wary of foreign-born ages.  When a player has that many highlights and scores that many goals at that first U-17 when he was only 14, then doesn't maintain that advantage over time, it makes you wonder.

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