Who is the best football player of this generation? Ask anyone this question and the chances are that at least 90 per cent will have Lionel Messi, the Argentine whiz would turns out for Barcelona and shatters goal-scoring records for a living.
But put that same question to someone who’s been around for a while and he’d have to give that question a fair degree of thought. The likes of Pele, Diego Maradona, Michel Platini, Franz Beckenbauer and more would all be jostling for space at the top. In that esteemed company, Messi would probably be a footnote – good, very good but still not a winner on the world stage.
So when Messi reportedly said he’s never seen Pele play, the Brazilian legend – winner of three World Cups, scorer of a 1000 goals, actor, unicef ambassador and more – decided that the young Argentine needed an education.
Pele, 71, has vowed to send Messi a copy of the 2004 documentary Pele Eterno (Pele Forever), which includes footage of the Brazilian from his playing days.
“It is a normal thing when a player is compared to a player from another time period, sometimes he is not interested in the comparison,” Pele told Globoesporte.
“If he really did not see me, I’ll do what I once did with Maradona: I’ll send him the video ‘Pelé Eterno’ and then he will.”
Perhaps it pricked Pele’s pride that Messi had not heard of him; perhaps he couldn’t fathom the possibility of a football player not knowing him. But he decided to get even. So Messi can expect a video very soon. And if he doesn’t see it and mentions that in a press conference, then he might get another video in his mail box.
However, 1994 World Cup winner and former Barcelona striker Romario has now added his voice to the debate, claiming that Messi must first overcome Diego Maradona, and himself (how apt), before thinking about Pele.
“If Messi sees the video, he’ll probably learn some things,” Romario said at a press conference. “You simply cannot compare him with Pele. You cannot say he is the same when he has never won a World Cup.”
“Messi has all the conditions to be the best one day, but first he has to overcome Maradona, Romario and then eventually Pele.”
In case you haven’t seen Pele play either, then view the video below before the Brazilian gets wind of it.