Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo might be the top dogs on the world of football at the moment, but Pele's greatness cannot be taken for granted. Widely regarded as the greatest footballer to have ever lived, Pele has been one of the most talked-about sportsmen over the years.
The legendary Brazilian is the only player in the history of the game to have won the FIFA World Cup three times, while he also holds numerous long-standing goalscoring records.
In the modern era, however, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and been a cut above the rest and look set to stand the test of time. Having won a staggering 11 Ballon d'Or awards between them, they've dominated the world football for well over a decade and have shown no signs of slowing down.
Lionel Messi holds the record for winning the most Ballon d'Or crowns, with the Argentine winning the prized accolade for the sixth time in December 2019. Cristiano Ronaldo, on the other hand, has won it five times and could well do so again in the coming years.
Until the late 90s, the Ballon d'Or was exclusively for Europeans, due to which Pele retired without getting his hands on the prize. However, the award was made global in 1995 and several south American footballers have got their hands on the trophy since then, with Lionel Messi a prominent name on the list.
Pele emerged with more Ballon d'Or awards than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi after re-evaluation
In 2016, France Football did an international re-evaluation and admitted that if the award had been global during Pele's playing career, the legendary Brazilian would have a staggering seven Ballon d'Or awards to his name, making him the most decorated player of all-time.
France Football even retrospectively handed the Ballon d'Or to Pele for the years 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1970, while the likes of Diego Maradona, Garrincha, Romario and Mario Kempes joined him on the honorary winner's list.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo might be the greatest footballers of this generation, but Pele was a phenomenon back in the day. The Brazilian attacker was the first superstar footballer globally and is sure to be remembered for generations asone of the most celebrated figures of the beautiful game.
Published 26 Sep 2020, 13:29 IST