The debate over who is the greatest footballer of all time continues to rage, and now artificial intelligence has weighed in by ranking four true football legends
It’s a debate in football that may never be resolved, but now artificial intelligence has given it a great solution.
Lionel Messi claimed a record eighth Ballon d’Or crown this year, 12 months after the mercurial striker guided Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar. But despite this, many remain in the ‘GOAT’ camp of Cristiano Ronaldo, with the Real Madrid icon continuing to score goals prolifically for club and country.
Nostalgists will read about the likes of three-time World Cup winner Pele and another Argentinian legend, Diego Maradona. All four players can claim to have lit up the big stage during their careers, and now technology has done its best to rank them.
4. Diego Maradona
Few would dispute that Diego Maradona is ranked as one of the four greatest players of all time, although Naples residents may question how there are three men ahead of him.
He was remembered by AI for his “outstanding dribbling skills, vision and ‘Hand of God’ goals”. It was, and he then hit the ball past Peter Shilton for one of the greatest individual goals in World Cup history.
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It was at the 1986 World Cup that he finally led Argentina to victory that would ultimately define his career. During his time at Napoli, he helped the team win two Serie A titles and a UEFA Cup, forever ensuring his godlike status.
Winning the 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cup with Brazil – but Pele’s career was about more than just statistics.
Long before the days of strict player diets and ruthless fitness regimens, Pele combined athleticism with a wealth of skill and vision. He spent almost his entire career with Santos before joining the New York Cosmos, but is best remembered for his performances at the international level.
Cynics regard his ostensible goalscoring record as questionable. But one thing is for sure, regardless of the actual number of goals – he scored a lot of goals.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Football fans don’t need artificial intelligence to tell them Ronaldo has “athleticism, goal-scoring ability and versatility.”
The 38-year-old currently has 739 goals in his club career and his tally will continue to rise despite scoring in Saudi Arabia alongside Al Nasr. He scored 128 goals for Portugal, becoming the only goalscorer in international football.
His trophy record with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus is also impressive, with him winning the Champions League five times and several league titles. Such is his relentless desire to be the best that it ignites anger to see himself ranked second on this list.
1. Lionel Messi
His eight Ballon d’Or awards were no accident. To say that Lionel Messi is known for his “incredible dribbling, vision and goal-scoring ability” might even be underestimating him. His goalscoring record may not be quite the same as Ronaldo’s, but there’s no doubt who produces more magic with the ball.
A forever club legend at Barcelona, many thought his career ended with lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy in Qatar. Currently on a tear with Inter Miami, he is, in fact, far below his level.
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