The Brazil legend waded in on one of the most hard-fought arguments in football before asserting that he is better than both superstars - and therefore the best in history
Pele has lifted the lid on which player he believes the best footballer in the world to be, though he insists that neither Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo challenge his own status as the greatest of all time.
Messi and Ronaldo have won the Ballon d’Or 11 times between them over the last 12 years, with the Argentine currently edging his rival with six awards to the Portuguese’s six.
The pair have dominated European football in that time and many believe that Messi’s technical ability and extra Ballon d’Or award give him the advantage over Ronaldo in the best of all time debate.
However, Pele sided with 35-year-old Ronaldo due to his astonishing consistency. “Today, the best player in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo,” he told Pilhado Youtube channel.
“I think he’s the best because he’s more consistent, but you can’t forget about Messi, of course, but he’s not a striker.”
Although Ronaldo played much of his career on the left-wing, he has adapted with age to increasingly play as an out-and-out striker.
Since moving to Juventus in 2018, the former Real Madrid man has scored 53 goals and provided 14 assists in 75 appearances, taking his remarkable career scoring tally to 725 goals in 1,000 games.
Meanwhile, Messi is rarely used as a striker in a similar way to Ronaldo, usually given a free role from the right flank to drop deep and create chances.
The 32-year-old has an incredible 697 goals in 856 games, but not playing as a centre-forward damages his stake to greatest of all time status in Pele’s eyes.
The Santos legend, who scored a record 1,281 goals over his career, listed a number of other players who deserve to be in the debate for best ever. The 79-year-old also made a clear swipe at a rival before maintaining that he is the greatest to ever kick a ball.
“It is a question that is difficult to answer. We cannot forget about Zico, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo,” he added.
“And in Europe, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff. Now, it’s not my fault, but I think Pele was better than them all.”
Pele’s omission of mercurial Argentina legend Diego Maradona will raise many eyebrows and shows the duo’s rivalry off the pitch is still very much alive.