The first rule of GOAT club is there can only be one GOAT.
For years that title swung wildly between Pele and Diego Maradona, depending on who you spoke to, or which erectile dysfunction advert you were watching.
Then, on 24 June 1987, a new GOAT was born. All hail Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini.
But Pele isn’t going down without a fight. Former GOATs have notorious aggression rivalling that of a honey badger, or Lee Cattermole in untucked shirt mode, when they feel threatened.
The face of Viagra told Folha de Sao Paulo: “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.
“How can you compare? To compare with Pele, it has to be someone who shoots well with the left, shoots well with the right, and scores headers.”
Let’s take a closer look at Pele’s claims, starting with the suggestion that Messi only shoots with his left foot.
Maybe Pele tried to go drink for drink with his old sparring partner Maradona during Argentina v Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup.
That would explain why he missed Messi’s Goal of the Tournament nominee, which involved controlling a 50-yard pass before lashing it into the back of the net with HIS RIGHT FOOT.
Or what about the goal Thierry Henry, who was sharing the pitch with Messi at the time, claimed ‘defied logic’.
Messi took the ball on his chest before sprinting towards Malaga’s simultaneously praying defence.
In the same movement Messi managed to go both backwards and forwards before hammering the ball past the keeper with HIS RIGHT FOOT.
Messi’s greatest ever goal- the carbon copy of Maradona’s strike against England- was also scored with HIS RIGHT FOOT.
Leo took half of Getafe for a merry dance before slotting in from an acute angle with his right.
It might have looked simple, but producing that accuracy at full spring with a defender sliding in for the block is typical GOAT behaviour.
Still convinced it was easy, and that we’re nothing but mere Messi fanboys?
Well let’s take a quick look at an iconic piece of skill from Pele, in which he sells the keeper for a pão de queijo without even touching the ball.
Genius. Simply genius. Expect he completely missed the gaping net after rounding the keeper.
Now onto Pele’s claims that Messi doesn’t head the ball well.
Obviously Messi’s 5ft 7in frame means that, even if he played under Tony Pulis, long-ball tactics aren’t particularly compatible with his style of play.
But, when presented with the opportunity, Messi is nay-too-shabby in the air. Just ask Man United’s losing 2009 Champions League final goalkeeper Edwin van der Saar, who found himself lobbed at 6ft 6in.
Finally, Messi’s insistence on executing the same skill over and over again.
Is Pele talking about the time Messi nutmegged James Milner so hard that he turned into a parody account?
Maybe he’s talking about the time when Messi nutmegged Felipe Luis backwards?
The time Messi sent Nani back to his mother’s womb without touching the ball?
But, to give credit where it’s due, Pele’s best ever goal dwarfs anything Messi has ever done on a football pitch.
Have you ever seen Messi flick a cross over a defenders head, chip the ball over a further two defenders and a goalkeeper before heading it into the back of the net?
Nope, you haven’t. Here’s a computer simulation of that goal, because no one actually caught it on camera. Shame. Real shame.
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