Leo Messi is the greatest footballer of all-time. Winning the World Cup cemented that place in history for him. And he didn’t just win it, he scored in every knockout stage match, becoming the first men’s player to manage the feat (Carli Lloyd also did it), including two goals in the final. When the chips were down, he stepped up.
If you really wanted to quibble about where Messi ranks all-time, I suppose you could put Pelé ahead of him. Pelé won the World Cup three times, the only player to ever do so. He Brazil’s joint top scorer (77) and scored 643 goals in 659 club games for Santos. He won the Campeonato Brasileiro with Santos six times, including five consecutive from 1961-1965, and a host of other tournaments. In short, his club career in South America was every bit as decorated as Messi’s in Europe has been.
It’s difficult for me to truly compare the two because Pelé was before my time, which complicates the already difficult task of evaluating players across generations. I’d be fine with calling Messi the greatest modern player and Pelé the greatest of whatever you want to call the pre-modern era. And y’all know that I’ve got strong negative feelings about our need to assign superlatives — it’s fine to appreciate both as all-time greats.
Really what I want to accomplish by calling Messi the greatest is put to bed the ridiculous comparisons between Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. They aren’t in the same category anymore, and I didn’t think they were in the same category to begin with, honestly. Messi’s World Cup win permanently ends that debate.
I would have had CF published a bit earlier, but I was interrupted several times by Gunner the rescue lab mix. He gets a bit of separation anxiety when my GF leaves for work in the morning, so I had to get up and go lay on the floor near him to settle him down for his morning nap.