When you consider the many skillful boots that have graced the stage of professional football for decades and how they’ve thrilled fans with magic dribbles and buried countless balls in the back of the net, saying for a fact who the best of the best is in this game of adroit boots just gets harder.
So who is the king of football? Pele was. The Brazilian player is widely believed to be the King of Soccer. Pele’s skill, speed, and scoring ability made him one of the most famous and respected athletes in the world and he is often considered the greatest football player of all time.
However, the performances of a few players stand out among many hundreds of football stars. Some say the crown fits Cristiano Ronaldo best, and others argue that Lionel Messi is the king of football. But then, just who has proven to be the greatest player ever?
Who Is The Greatest King Of Football History?
Just as the jungle has its king, the many years and countless matches that have witnessed the presence of soccer’s greatest boots have proven just who the king of this legendary sport is. And Edson Arantes do Nascimento is that immortal name we continue to remember for his unmatched feat in the history of football to date.
Popularly known as Pelé, and with a god-class and time-tested archive of unbeatable achievements to his credit, this Brazilian football sensation of the 60s and ’70s still stands as the king of the boots more than five decades after his active career.
There’s no doubt that there have been many other talented players, including the phenomenal record-breaking boots of our time, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who continue to sway the emotions of many million fans around the globe with their sheer giftedness in manoeuvering the ball. We’d all agree these two are just amazing, and that’s for a fact.
But then, why is the crown still best fitting for the late Brazilian legend Pele, whose very name and date of birth we are still uncertain about, not to mention the fact that we can’t tell for sure the exact number of balls he sent lodging at the back of the net in the course of his career? To find out, it’s better to ask what criteria decide who the king of football is.
What Decides Who Is The King Of Football?
1. Number of Official Career goals
What comes first is the number of official goals a player scores during their career. Taking the crown as the king of football begins with having a good number of balls kiss the back of the net in your name, and that’s one thing Pele undoubtedly had an affinity for – burying balls in the goalpost with sheer brilliance.
The revered greatest Brazilian footballer of all time scored an estimated total of about 1,279 goals in 1,363 appearances. However, only 757 of these goals are recognized as official, and he bagged these in 812 matches. The remainder of his estimated goals are attributed to his goals in defunct tournaments and friendly matches. Thanks to the IFFHS for keeping these records.
However, the precise number of goals to his credit remains a debated subject, with some football statisticians arguing he scored slightly more or less. Nevertheless, Pele remains the very first player to send up to 1,000 shots in the back of the net and held the record for the most goals scored for a very long time until Cristiano Ronaldo beat the record in recent times with a record 819 goals.
With Pele being the third-highest goal scorer of all time after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi rocked the list in the last decade, it’s obvious that being the king of football goes beyond just goals. The second criterion is skills on the pitch.
Fascinating moves, samba playing style, and exceptional brilliance on the pitch were the hallmarks of Pele’s football career. By every metric for accessing a player’s pitch worthiness, Pele was top-notch and still remains a reference for what the ideal footballer should look like.
Firstly he was ambipedal, a rare ability you don’t see in the everyday player, and he knew how to take great advantage of this ability. He was also naturally gifted with a sturdy chassis, excellent peripheral vision, and very firm muscles, allowing him to shoot high-powered shots.
Besides being naturally gifted for the football field, Pele also had an arsenal of great skills going for him. With his fast feet, he displayed dribbles that looked like magic. He could also use his head really well, even as well as the best center forwards of his days, although he was a midfielder.
Famed for being a master of bending shots, he was also excellent at taking free kicks and corner kicks. It’s quite obvious he’s one of the most complete players to have worn a jersey.
Pele’s overall intelligence on the pitch and brilliance with the ball made watching him a thrilling and entertaining experience for fans. Some say Pele’s footballing was more of an art than just a sport, which changed the football game forever.
3. World Cup Wins
Of the many achievements that place the late Brazilian star at the highest echelon in professional football, his victories at the world cups are the most outstanding. The football king scored 12 times in his 14 FIFA world cup appearances in 1958, 1962, 1966, and 1970.
However, he did not just become famous for his sensational performance at his World cup appearances but for leading Brazil to victory three out of the four times he featured at the FIFA world cup. This record remains unbeaten to this day.
Many football players have graced the international football scene. The rival records of other legends like Diego Maradona, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi come close to Pele’s established record of success. However, Pele remains the undisputed king.
Pele was an extremely influential footballer, and much of the popularity the sport gained globally was a result of his amazing athletic contribution in the field of play while he toured the world with his team Santos and when he led Brazil to take home the world cup time and again.
Pele dominated the football scene for over a decade with no rival in his time and set the bar high for the generations after. Little wonder he was the highest-paid player of his time.
He was voted the World player of the century by the IFFHS and athlete of the century by the IOC. Time magazine also listed him as one of the 100 most influential personalities of the 20th century.
Pele’s influence shone both at home and abroad as it was almost certain the fate of the games he played lay closest to his boots. In Brazil, he was and still is hailed as an indisputable hero not just for his outstanding feats in football but also for his efforts in supporting the policies aimed at making life better for the poor at home.
His charisma and influence in making football popular worldwide is probably the most significant reason why he is the undisputed football king of all time. By the end of his career, Pele was the most known public figure on earth. He brought Brazil to the spotlight, spoke for the poor, and represented the interest of black people.
No single personality in football history stirred as much interest in the sport in spectators worldwide as Pele did, and the difference in the sport before and after Pele’s career was undoubtedly clear. Much of the world got introduced to the sport as a result of the electrifying game style of Pele, which is popularly referred to as beautiful.
Pele’s career lasted for slightly over a decade. Still, he wowed the world with his boots and created new records from the very first time he began playing at the age of 16, scoring goals with grace and brilliance and ending his career with an average of almost one goal for every game he played.
Who Is The King Of Football Between Ronaldo And Messi?
It’s no news that the Portuguese and Argentine idols Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been in one of the fiercest rivalries in modern football. This rivalry hasn’t been fueled by the duo loathing themselves, although they don’t have a relationship outside of the pitch, but by their dramatic and sensational knack for taking turns at breaking records and bagging awards.
That’s on the one end. Their astonishing display of skill on the field of play and a good deal of media hype to match has made the question of who’s the greatest player between the two on one of the most debated topics in modern football.
Ronaldo tops the list for highest goal scorer of all time, with Lionel Messi coming second. However, this is also because Ronaldo has played more matches than Leo Messi during his career. Ronaldo is ahead of Messi with about over 120 more matches. But when it comes to goals to matches played ratio, Messi has scored more matches per goal than Ronaldo.
Both players have taken turns topping the charts in different leagues. Messi is the highest goal scorer of all time in La Liga and also leads with the highest number of assists, with Ronaldo coming second highest scorer and third highest for assists provided. However, Ronaldo dominates in the UEFA Champions League with the highest number of goals to his credit and assists, with Lionel Messi being the second-highest goal scorer and assists provider. They both stand out as the first players to score 100 goals in the history of the UEFA Champions league.
Also, for over a decade from 2008, Messi and Ronaldo monopolized taking turns bagging the Ballon d’Or until their winning streak was interrupted by the Croatian star, Luka Modric. Messi won the Ballon d’Or four times in a row from 2009 to 2012 and another three in 2015, 2019, and 2021 making a total of seven times he took home the award. Ronaldo also took home the Ballon d’Or five times in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017.
Interestingly both players have won a total of 34 major trophies, and for a long time, neither had won a World cup for their countries, finally one place where they could both agree. However, Messi just rocked the world after leading the Argentina national team to victory at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, breaking the deadlock. They are both exceptional and fascinating acts. Little wonder Modric commented that Nobody has the right to compare themselves to Messi or Ronaldo since they both play at another level.
The grand stage of professional football has seen hundreds of skilled players achieve amazing feats over the years, but none beats the unforgettable football moments created by the Brazilian king, Pele. It’s not every day a 16-year-old comes from playing with socks stuffed with newspapers in a humble corner of Brazil to being tagged “the greatest” by FIFA. He was a national treasure.