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Why Pele's criticism of Lionel Messi is unjust

  • Debunking Pele's criticism of Lionel Messi.
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 20:16 IST

La Pulga!
La Pulga!

Brazil legend, Pele, sparked off controversy as he claimed that Lionel Messi only has one skill. Widely regarded as the greatest of all time, Pele placed himself, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, and Franz Beckenbauer above Messi, and claimed that Messi is too one footed to be regarded as the greatest player ever.

According to a translation of Brazilian newspaper Folha De Sao Paulo, Pele said,

"How can you make a comparison between a guy who heads the ball well, shoots with the left, shoots with the right and another who only shoots with one leg, only has one skill and doesn’t head the ball well?"

The Brazilian great, who scored over 1000 goals in his decorated career, also added that a player needs to head the ball well and shoot well with both feet to be compared to him, unlike the five time Ballon d'Or winner, Leo Messi.

On the other hand, Leo Messi himself has dominated world football for a decade, and scored a staggering 90 goals in 2012 - which is the most number of goals anyone has ever scored in a calendar year.

The Argentine, 31, is still one of football's finest, and has also enjoyed over 650 goals for his club and country. Evidently, there are countless number of moves and goals which contradicts Pele's statements, and it is safe to say that criticising Leo Messi for having only one skill is extremely unjust.

We all remember his exquisite header against Cristiano Ronaldo
We all remember his exquisite header against Cristiano Ronaldo's Manchester United

Skill is the ability to do something really well and gain expertise in a particular field. Well, Lionel Messi's exploits surely prove Pele's controversial remarks wrong. The world is surely amazed by what Messi has been doing on the pitch for more than 10 years.

We all remember his exquisite header against Cristiano Ronaldo's Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final of 2008-09, which sealed the treble for FC Barcelona. Being one of the shortest men on the pitch, Leo jumped the most to meet the ball with his head, and sent it past the United goalkeeper.


Even in his latest dribble against Atletico Madrid where he outfoxed Filipe Luis with a nutmeg, Messi won the ball by jumping more than anyone in the first place. There are countless more examples of Lionel Messi shattering the opponent's defense and dismantling rivals with his varied skill set.

His goal against Bayern Munich where he made Jerome Boateng fall with his trickery and chipped over Manuel Neuer, or his famous goal against Getafe, replicating Maradona's goal of the century - these moments are unforgettable as Leo surprised the world with some jaw dropping variety of skills along with world class technique.

The King!
The King!

Pele should also consider the fact Leo Messi is also a great playmaker. Despite the staggering goals he racked up against his opponents, he creates space for his teammates, and picks them with immaculate vision, while leaving defensive strategies against him useless.

There is no doubt that Leo Messi possesses a mind of his own, which is harder to comprehend for normal human beings, which is why he is still unpredictable even after playing for more than a decade.

Moreover, it is almost impossible to dominate world football in this unprecedented manner with just 'one skill'. Leo Messi has surely been thrilling the world by doing spectacularly well in more than one thing, which shows his versatility as a footballer.

He may not be as athletic as Usain Bolt or as tall and strong as Cristiano Ronaldo, but he is surely dynamic and versatile, with a huge number of skills and techniques with the ball, and for the last 10 years, Leo Messi has gifted us with jaw dropping highlights on the pitch.

Published 08 Dec 2018, 15:31 IST
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