Messi wins the World Cup: G.O.A.T debate, settled?

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As Lionel Messi finally lifts the ultimate prize in football, his case to be the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T) becomes the strongest it ever has been. We take a look at the conversation and the legends who are a part of it.

As Messi wins the biggest prize that eluded him for his whole career, for many fans, he also settles the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time) debate, once and for all. While undoubtedly one of the greatest to ever play the game, the FIFA World Cup trophy-sized hole in his cabinet was often cited as the biggest gap in his career. Not anymore. Like his footballing predecessor, Diego Maradona, Messi has shepherded his football-crazy country to the pinnacle of the world game.

The G.O.A.T debate is football’s most contested conversation, eliciting strong opinions and a lot of disagreement. Often, due to fan loyalties, the debate pushes people to extreme positions, pedestalising one player while diminishing another. Ultimately, there is no objective metric to compare the “greatness” of players spanning across generations and situations. What is possible to do, however, is to have a conversation that respects footballing context before making an informed opinion.

Pele was football’s first global superstar. Possibly the best-paid athlete of his era (1956-77), he averaged just about a goal a game for his entire career, scoring a whopping 757 goals in 831 official games. He was also an underrated creative player, with a record 8 assists in his World Cup career. Till date, he is the only player who has won the World Cup thrice (1958, 1962, 1970), doing so in four attempts.

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