During the week, Brazilian legend, Pele said Barcelona forward, Lionel Messi, will have to achieve a lot more in order to be compared with some of the legends of the past.According to Pele, people like to compare, but they seem to have forgotten Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Alfedo Di Stefano,who were better than Lionel Messi. The question right now is Pele right about Messi?
Pele has formed a habit of criticising Messi. In an interview with ESPN last month, he said he is better than Messi and Ronaldo, and for Messi to be considered a great, he has to win the World Cup.
This is the part in my own opinion where Pele got it all wrong as the players he mentioned: Cruyff,Platini and Di Stefano have not won the World Cup either.
At 23, Messi has won everything in club football, He has won the Champions league twice with Barcelona, the Spanish Laliga title five times and has won the FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon D’or twice in a row and is the favourite to win it this year. In the league, he has scored 119 goals in 177 matches with 56 assists.
Also in the Champions League, Messi has scored 36 goals in 56 games with 10 assists. For his national team, he has 16 goals in 55 games, on what criteria is Pele placing his judgement?
Johan Cruyff, the Dutch master was crowned the European footballer of the year three times during his illustrious career. He won the European cup,(Champions league) thrice and has eight league titles with Ajax and one league title with Barcelona. For his national team, he has 33 goals in 48 games. During his time with Ajax,Barcelona,Feyenord,LA Aztecs,Washington Diplomats and Levante, he has a total 290 goals in 520 games in his club career, while in the European cup, he has 37 goals in 88 matches in a career that stretched from 1964 to 1984.
Michel Platini, an attacking midfielder had a glorious career in his time with Nancy, Saint Etienne and Juventus. He also won the Ballon D’or thrice, he won European Championship with France in 1984 and was voted the best player of the tournament.
He has 224 goals in 432 games in his club career while he has 41 goals in 72 games for his national team. He won the European Cup once with Juventus in 1985 and has won the league three times in his career that spanned from 1972 to 1987
Alfredo Di Stefano, the Argentine -Spanish footballer, played for three national teams; Argentina, Columbia and Spain. He played for Real Madrid and was responsible for Madrid winning five European Championships in a row. Di Stefano has been described as the most complete footballer in the history of the game.
He played for River Plate, Real Madrid, Huracan, Millonarios and Espanyol, scoring 377 goals in 521 games while he scored 49 goals in 58 games for Real Madrid in the European Cup. He has won the league eight times with Madrid, twice with River Plate and three times with Millonarios. He has won the Ballon D’or twice in a career that spanned from 1944 to 1966.
Based on the above facts, Cruyff and Platini have three Ballon D’or each and Messi just needs one more to equal their record. He also needs three Champions League title to equal Di Stefano’s record of five Champions League trophies and all three men never won the World Cup.
Di Stefano, Maradona, Pele and now Messi were and are great players of their time, but to compare them is injustice to all these players. Messi is just 23 year-old and he still has at least, eight season of top flight football.
There is only one thing left for him to accomplish; win the World Cup with Argentina and when he does that, the debate if Messi is among the greatest will be put to rest.With the way Messi is going right now, he is definitely going to be considered as the greatest footballer of all time by the time he retires from football.