28 Feb 2013

Fowler: 'Magnificent' £55m star is 'better than Pele and Maradona'. Agree...?

In 2012, Lionel Messi beat Cristiano Ronaldo to the Ballon d'or for the third year in a row, and there are many people who believe that on this particular occasion, the award went to the wrong player. Liverpool Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler is one of those people, and he's heaped the highest possible praised on the former Manchester United attacker.

Discussing Ronaldo and Messi recently, Fowler admitted that he 'feels for' Ronaldo over his latest Ballon d'or snub, and went as far as to suggest the Portuguese international is one of the world's all time greats. He enthused:

"I've got to say, Ronaldo is magnificent and I actually feel for him [over the Ballon d'or snub]. I'm having him ahead of Pele and Maradona. My opinion is that Messi and Ronaldo are both better than Pele and Maradona"

Another former Liverpool striker, John Aldridge, insists that Ronaldo - recently linked with a £55m return to Old Trafford - is a level below one of the Reds all time greats. Speaking to the official LFC website last week, Aldo argued:

"He [barnes] is quite simply the best player I ever played with. John was something else, a latter day Ronaldo if you like...but better. He could do everything and he provided the crosses for many of my goals in a red shirt"

Re Messi - Fowler is not the only ex-Red who thinks he's better than Maradona. Graeme Souness also holds that view:

"They [Barcelona] have got some great players but for me, Messi is the best player who’s ever played football – and I’ve played against Maradonna many times. He’s a scorer of great individual goals, he’s very much a team player, the provider of the killer pass. There’s nothing he can’t do".

Maradona himself has no doubt about who is the better player. In an interview yesterday, he told Reporters:

"I hope that Messi can win the World Cup for Argentina, but it won't be easy, because everyone knows all about him. In the last game, AC Milan built a cage for him. For me he is a great lad, but I still think that I was the best"

For me, it's simple: neither Messi nor Ronaldo can never be considered to be on the same level as Maradona or Pele until they dominate a major international tournament for their respective countries. Both players have achieved comparatively little at International level, whereas Pele and Maradona have four World Cup trophies between them.

International tournament football is (arguably) the most pressurised level of the game. Immense mental strength is required to perform to the highest standards with the hopes of an entire national on your shoulders, and only the very best players excel in that environment.

In Maradona's case - shameless cheating against England notwithstanding - his sheer talent pushed a comparatively inferior Argentina side to World Cup success in 1986, and he took the team back to the final in 1990. When Messi and Ronaldo can do that, they'll deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as as the Argentinian maestro.

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. jaimie i think your scottish roots are showing here its a shame suarezs world up handball was not against england then i am sure you would see him in a different light;-)on the subject at hand messi deserved the award at the moment the best player in the world

  2. Messi is worth €220m (that's his release clause and he turned down a bid from a team in Russia after it was active)

  3. for once i agree with you jamie. i think ronaldo and messi have done  well at international level but they still dont have a world cup or euro/ copa america to there names thats the difference between them and maradonna and pele. argentina and portugal today have good enough teams to beat anyone in the world, when maradona was playing he carried the argentine national team.

  4. Why do you have to dominate an international tournament to be considered the level of pele,maradona?? That's total-bull Jamie messi and ronaldo are as good if not better however its impossible to compare players of such different generations there are so many factors that need to be considered so its a stupid argument.

  5. JK - I'm with you on this one.  As good as Messi & Ronaldo are, they cannot be considered as better than Pele & Maradona until they dominate either a World Cup, Euro Championships, or Copa America.  I think your criteria for great players is more or less spot on.  

    The only question I have is how you can argue that John Barnes, as good as he was, was better than Ronaldo.  On almost every conceivable stat (club goals scored, international goals scored, team honours won, individual honours won, free kicks scored, longeivity of top level performances, etc.) Ronaldo is markedly better than Barnes. 

    IMO one thing that counts against Ronaldo for these honours is his own narcisism.  Nobody likes that.  He seems to be a bit of an a-hole so everybody prefers to love Messi instead.  If Ronaldo had the personality of someone like Beckham, he'd be a whole lot more apprecaited and loved. 

  6. I agree to a point, because unlike Bale (RE yesterdays post) they have brilliant international team mates around them, to be able to succed. Having said that. If you put Messi back in time in to Maradona's Argentina, with his ability now, if think he would be on the same level, if not better.

    Its very hard to judge players from completley differnet era's, and in a sense sports, because football has changed so much since Pele and Maradona were playing. Who knows what Messi and Ronaldo could have done with the ball in those days, and who knows what Pele and Maradona could do in todays game.

  7. Maybe it's unfortunate that Spain are destroying everything in their paths. Portugal are quite a poor team if you remove the likes of Alves, Coentrao and Nani

  8. Teams in the champions league are of a higher quality than that of the world cup Jaimie

  9. Based on what? International teams have the 11 best players from a particular country. With very few exceptions, CL teams are padded with average non-international players, so how can they be better?

  10. Argentina has a team of much better players now than then, but Messi still can't carry the team. Nowhere near Maradona.

  11. ChampsWinnerTraore12:00 pm, February 28, 2013

    Messi and Ronaldo are playing at a high level of football week in week out not like pele who played in a sub standard brazillian league and world cups every 4 years playing a maximum of 7 games in 1 summer hardly consistent

    As for right now after Tuesdays's Clasico i would say Ronaldo is the best player in the world at the moment even though i believe messi deserved his Ballon d'or

    Personal feelings though aside i think we should cherish the fact we have 2 players at the same time in history putting in the perfomances they do Arguably and i believe so better players than both Pele and Maradona (International Achievemnets withstanding )

  12. Just what I think Jaimie, If you picked the champions league team from each country and compared them to the national team I would suggest the champions league team would possess the best team , nothing scientific just the way my mind works :)

  13. Maradona is the best there ever was and ever will be. He simply could not be contained. In his prime, there wasn't a match where he didn't pull the strings. The Jonah Lomu of football if you like.

  14. I think ROnaldo's main issue with these type of awards is his personality. Messi comes across as humble, a family man who takes care of his parents as well. Ronaldo is the party boy who has a kid with someone no one knows who it is and who has a face you wouldn't spit on if it caught fire. Even though based on ability and achievements in 2012 he should have walked away with this and every other award handed out.


  16. What about maradonnas second goal against england - from the half way line and walked past 6 defenders - not bad was it

  17. Aldridge is comparing Barnes to Il Fenomeno, Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, not to Cristiano Ronaldo. Although Barnes was a wonderful player, I doubt that he was as good as Il Fenomeno - or indeed as Cristiano Ronaldo. The reason people are talking about Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo in the same breath as Pele and Maradona is due to their ability to win games almost single-handedly for their teams. Like Jamie, however, I think both Pele and Maradona are a step above Messi and Ronaldo, if not in ability than in terms of achievements so far.

  18. Ronaldo and Messi combined couldn't touch Maradonas left foot.. Fact!

    Messi surrounded by quality in the Argentinian team and still Argentina have nothing to sing about.. Lol

    Maradona took an average team Mexico and single handly won them the World Cup .

    Lets not forget Maradona also played in a time when Roy kean would be considered a sissy and a serious foul play red card would be deemed no more than a tickle!
    Messi career would have over before it started with 3 broken legs lol

    The only the thing shameful here is comparing either to the greatest player to ever play the game!

  19. There's a strong argument that most of the top CL sides have a team of internationals anyway- and their understanding is considerably better as they can train every day together rather than just a few days every now and again.

  20. Yes, I agree, but not every player in every CL team is an international. Also, the mental pressure is much more severe at international tournaments. For me, the ability to dominate games in the most pressurised environment is the key factor in determining World class status. Zidane. Maradona et all, have done the business at the highest level of pressure; Messi and Ronaldo have not.

  21. Jamie could Torres be classed as world class as he has done it on the international level had 2 seasons in the league where he finished 2nd and won the Champions league.

  22. I think Fowler is spot on. We are watching the greatest player to have ever graced a football pitch. And while I understand where Jamie is coming from with him failing to achieve anything on the World Cup scene, he arguable has two more World Cups in him and I'm personally cheering for him to win one so the doubters can be put to bed

  23. Some serious bullshit being spouted here by many fans who are trying to compare players from different era's.
    Pele played with leather balls (the ones for kicking about a pitch),being kicked by players (watch what they did to him in in 66) he won 3 world cups from the 50's til the 70's...samba football didn't exist until he played it.
    Then you have Eusébio acknowledge GLOBALLY as one of the greatest
    Puskas from Hungary another great GLOBALLY not just in the UK Press fetish club.
    What about IMO George Best? was kicked and hacked like Pele but never won a world cup or played in a world cup tournament.

    Pele and Maradonna stand apart because they DRAGGED a average team to win WORLD CUPS.
    Ronaldo and Messi will be measured by the WORLD CUP not Champions League, no League Titles. WHEN THE WHOLE WORLD WATCHES EVERY FOUR YEARS..RONALDO AND MESSI HAVE NOT PERFORMED.

    There is a reason Pele and Maradonna are KNOWN GLOBALLY Instantly and they have the medals to prove it

  24. I wouldn't say Pele 'dragged a average team to win world cups'. In '62 he was barely involved, in '58 he played with Garrincha, Vava and Zagallo and in '70 he played in one of the great football sides of all time.

    As for different eras, there are so many hypotheticals involved, I prepare not to try and work out who is better out of people from disparate eras. Pele was the best of his time and Messi is the best of this time. That is enough for me.

  25. Interesting, because the World Cup win and the Champions League win both occurred when he was well past his best form.

    By my reckoning he isn't world class, because his impact on those two triumphs wasn't pronounced.

  26.  Messi has no World Cups to his name but I agree with you that he is the best player right now.Ronaldo's PETULANCE is what for me makes him less of a player. You never see Messi arguing with his team mates when they make a mistake or sticking out his bottom lip when decisions don't go his way.
    I think Mentally MESSI IS TOUGHER than Ronaldo 

  27. I agree Messi has greater mental strength than Ronaldo but don't necessarily agree that Cristiano's petulance makes him worse. I think that in some games, as you say, he gets in a mood and doesn't perform properly, but generally speaking I think a player can be a moaner/whinger and still get the job done.

    I think it is less that Ronaldo moans and therefore cannot win but he moans because he can't win, if you understand what I'm saying.

  28. In what way should he have walked away with the award if im not mistaken Messi outscored Ronaldo for the spanish league Golden boot in a year which he manged to score a record beating 91 Goals in a calender year. Already this season he has got 38 Goals in 25 league appearences which for me proves he is a better player than ronaldo.

  29. Your forgetting he also carried the napoli team as well.

  30. I saw Maradona play many times at Barcelona and I have seen Messi  play many times there. Messi is not only better, he is much better. The same is true of Ronaldo. Both men are far superior as human beings also - Maradona can never open his mouth without revealing what a total brainless dummy he is.

  31. but he scored the Euro winning goal of 2008 and finished as the Euro 2012 top scorer despite scoring useless goals with no impact at all. Techniacally he has dominated a European and internatioanl competition.

  32.  Football has changed so much over the years, especially the international stage. You cant compare the international game from the past era's to today's international game.

  33. Messi and Ronaldo not known globally? 

  34. simply coz thats when u know world class players from average players i.e england (overrated) players never perform at a major tournament rooney, lampard and gerrard and soon to be jack wilshire coz they are overrated built up by british media how could downing or henderson get into last euro's with no goals or assists ok so so henderson got a few but not on messi or ronaldo level and aldridge is a pillock just like queen kenny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

  35. You cannot compare the best from different eras they beat all what was put in front of them at the time that Is all that matters.

  36. Won the title with his club almost single handedly, qualified his national team for the euro semis almost single handedly.

  37. Can people talk about skills rather
    than the number of titles and goals?? Although Messi dribbles well, he never
    has the mixed set of magical skills possessed by Maradona. Diego didn't just
    dribble well, he weaved magic with the ball, received the ball spectacularly at
    waist-high/chest-high, and flicked the ball to his teammates miraculously with his toes,
    the outside of his foot, backheel and even shoulders ... and often from impossible
    positions. Zidane, Zola, Gullit, etc all had seen Maradona and were amazed by what Maradona could do with the ball.  They've expressed their views that Diego could do magic to the ball like no one else EVER could (see Zidane's testimony at Youtube).  Messi's supporters can never say the same about Messi.  All they can rely on is how many goals and titles he has scored or won.   Diego didn't
    rely on training and practice. He was a genius.  He was nationally famous at age 8, world-famous
    at age 15. When he came to the international stage at age 19, many who saw him
    the first time (such as players in the Scottish side) were stunned by his
    skills and already considered him being destined to be the greatest. This was
    even before he won any European or world titles. 
Messi, on the other hand,
    relied on years of hard training, practice and combining with Barca teammates. No
    one seriously considered him as among the greatest until he won titles in very
    recent years. That's because he never displayed skills at the "greatest"
    level before then. 
Messi has the world's best team playing with him. That's so
    obvious. Just put him in Villareal and see if he could win anything. In the recent match against AC Milan, he again shot a free kick to the sky (not
    the first time). Diego would never do that. Messi relied more on speed in
    dribbling. That's why he often loses the ball as he runs (see the Milan match). But no one blames him because he is playing in a winning/dominating
    team. Diego would seldom lose the ball this way because he had better ball
    control. That's why he could still dribble at age 35 at slow speed. People are
    blind (or are too juvenile) when they say Diego's teammates were great players.
    How can those players be compared to the present strongest side on earth? Napoli,
    even after they won the Italian Serie A with the help of Maradona, was never an
    obviously-better side than the AC Milan or Inter-Milan at the time. 
... and
    what about the wider space Messi is usually given. Because his team is so
    strong, his opponents usually cannot afford to close him down with two or more
    players. In the recent match with AC Milan for example, he was given 3 or more feet of space even where he was only 20 yards away from goal. Often he was
    just walking freely in the mid-forward area with as much as 10 feet of space.
    Diego seldom had that luxury, because his opponents knew that closing him down
    meant closing down the whole of Napoli or Argentina. He was TIGHTLY marked all
    the time, often with defenders following him wherever he went - literally
    within TOUCHING distance. Also, because of the tightened rules, yellow cards
    nowadays protect Messi much more than they used to protect Maradona. I still
    have not mentioned the "3 points for a win" nowadays which favoured
    attacking teams ...