Paddy Power

Is Barcelona’s Lionel Messi The Greatest Footballer of All Time?

by Paddy Power Admin | March 8, 2012

Lionel Messi had never scored five goals in a professional game until last night. Now there is a growing chorus that he has replaced Pele and Maradona as the greatest footballer of all time. No one had ever scored five times in a Champions League match. Poor Fernando Torres has managed just five goals in his 50-game Chelsea career.

Messi helped Barcelona crush Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 on Wednesday night to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals with a 10-2 aggregate win. (See the above video)

“Without Messi, Barca is the best team,’’ Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt said. “And with him, they are in another galaxy.’’ Barca coach Pep Guardiola added: “We’ll never see a player like him again. He is one of a kind.’’

Messi has 48 goals for Barcelona this season, including 12 in the Champions League. He increased his Champions League career total to 49, tying Alfredo Di Stefano for fourth on the European Cup/Champions League career list. “Messi is a joke. For me the best ever,’’ Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney wrote on Twitter.

Messi (24) has 228 goals for Barcelona and is seven from matching Cesar Rodriguez for the club’s career scoring record. Messi has seven hat tricks this season.

The little Argentinian is putting heat on countryman Maradona and Brazil legend Pele in the debate about who’s the all-time greatest footballer. Maradona or Pele never played in a multi-phase Champions League, but both were arguably greater international footballers. Zinedine Zidane, Cruyff, and George Best are the othe names which crop up repeatedly. Have your say in our Over The Line poll.

Some Maradona magic…

… a reminder of Pele

… is ZZ top?

… how about Heskey?

Your comments and views


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  1. elflaco1 said on March 8, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

    In my little world Diego is still the king. He helped non-achievers Napoli to a couple of league titles and a somewhat unremarkable Argentina team to 1 and a half world cups. Messi and Pele are close though. They’re just held back by the fact that they play in teams that would have won even without them, so they don’t have that ‘indispensable’ vibe that Maradona had.
    People tend to break things down into numbers too and if you look at goals scored then Cristiano is on a par with Messi at the moment and he’s nowhere near the all time top spot.

    Zidane will always be my favourite though. They need to perfect human cloning so we can recreate that guy. Quickly.

  2. Keef said on March 8, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

    Love the Heskey one ! I think the commentator built it up with something like :
    “Heskey, HESKEY, H-E-S-K-E-Y ! ! . . . throw-in . . . . ”
    Classic Heskey – wish Mr. Mcleish would get rid !

  3. Paul said on March 8, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

    It’s such a tough call. Maradona or Pele never had the league or Champions League demands that either Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo have. And ZZ for style is fairly epic too. Messi will be No1 ultimately.

  4. freddiemays said on March 8, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

    I find it incredibly difficult to split Maradona and Messi. I just love that Messi is streets ahead of that preening greaseball Ronaldo (not that it stops him from getting ideas above his station!)

    Domestically, George Best and (I am not joking) Matt Le Tissier are the best for me.

    Zidane is a different type of player, but he was in a league of his own for a decade.

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