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Lionel Messi vs Pele vs Ronaldo vs Diego Maradona vs Cristiano Ronaldo - International career stats

Comparing Lionel Messi's international stats to other greats like Pele, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi following the loss against Chile

In light of Lionel Messi’s astonishing retirement from international football, his Argentine career has immediately been brought into perspective the world over. In a sense, while he is still at the peak of his powers and in with a strong chance of winning a record 6th Ballon d’Or, this declaration has stunned the world of football. Without doubt, everyone is convinced he has a lot more years to give to his country.

Currently, 29-years of age, Messi has the attributes to be able to play well into his 30’s if not in his present, then in a deeper role. At the very least, he should have another World Cup and Copa America in him. But unfortunately, at least for the time being we’re having to draw the line on his international career now and make a comparison with the biggest players of the current times and the other popularly considered best players of all time to see where Messi really stands. A lot has been said about Messi’s lack of success with Argentina, but in this piece we lay out the statistics of the other stalwarts of football and make a direct comparison.


#1 Pele – Brazil

Pele
Pele during the 1958 World Cup final

Pele is the most popular answer to ‘Who is the best footballer ever’ and for a reason, it has to be said. For the people who actually had the privilege of watching him play, he reinvented the game and brought a level of flair and skill that no one had ever seen before.

His success with Brazil remains unprecedented even decades after his retirement and the fact that the footballing landscape was extremely different in the 50’s and the 60’s is also something that can’t be ignored when putting his success into perspective. 

Let’s take a look at his figures:

Overall record

77 Goals in 91 Appearances
Best World Cup FinishWinner (3) – 1958,1962,1970
Copa AmericaRunners-up - 1959
FIFA World Cup Golden Ball1970
FIFA World Cup Silver Ball1958
Copa America Best Player1959
FIFA World Cup All-star team1958, 1970
World Cup goals12
Youngest winner of the FIFA World Cup17 years old
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