Diego Maradona GOAT Messi Ronaldo

Diego Maradona in action for Napoli. Image: BackpagePix

Not Messi, not Ronaldo: Maradona is the true GOAT

Diego Maradona is the GOAT. Not Cristiano Ronaldo, not Lionel Messi. Wanna know why? Keep reading because we’ll tell you.

Diego Maradona GOAT Messi Ronaldo

Diego Maradona in action for Napoli. Image: BackpagePix

I’m not going to bombard you woith convoluted statistics or complicated, possibly biased opinions as to why Cristiano Ronaldo is greater than Lionel Messi or vice versa. In fact, all I am here to say is that Diego Maradona is the GOAT, and it’s not a very controversial stance to take.

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Diego Maradona in the GOAT

So, I said that there would be no bombardment of statistics, but I will supply a few.

Messi stats

For club and country, Lionel Messi has scored 803 goals and provided 354 assists in 1018 matches. He has won the World Cup, Copa America, four Champions League titles and seven Ballon d’Or awards. Messi is not human. He’s an alien who’s been doing supernatural things on football pitches since he was 17 years old. He’s still doing those things. How many players are at once clinical goal-scorers and supreme playmakers and creators of chances? Not many. Not any, just Messi.

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Lionel Messi Ronaldo Maradona
Lionel Messi has ascended to World Cup heaven. Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

Cristiano Ronaldo stats

Mr Champions League has won that competition five times. He’s won the Ballon d’Or five times too. Ronaldo scored 450 goals in 438 appearances for Real Madrid. He’s won the European Championships with Portugal in 2016, a nation for which he has scored 122 times in 198 appearances. No player in the men’s game has scored more at international level.

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Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi
An art school student gives final touches to a painting of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in Mumbai on November 18, 2022. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP)

Diego Maradona

However, with that all being said, this article is about the GOAT, Diego Armando Maradona. Maradona didn’t produce ridiculous numbers like Messi and Ronaldo, and he didn’t win the Champions League. However, the influence he exerted on the modern game was just as profound and important. Line Michael Jordan at the Chicago Bulls, Diego changed the face of a largely irrelevant team, almost single-handedly, and turned them into the best in the world at that time. Napoli have only even won two Scudetti, and Maradona was the driving force behind them. Since 1990, they’ve not win a league title. Until now.

How Diego would have loved to party with this Napoli team on the night of their coronation.

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La Plata, Argentina. Image: BackpagePix

Peerless Diego

Maradona was head and shoulders above all the rest in the late 80s and early 90s. Nobody came close to the individual dominance he showed. Messi and Ronaldo have slugged it out for almost 20 years for the GOAT title, and their rivalry has been absolutely iconic, but Diego had no rivals. He was a relic. Whenever Ronaldo is mentioned, Messi is in the conversation. Diego was alone. Through his substance abuse issues he was also alone, but that’s a topic for another day, although it certainly made him who he was.

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Diego Maradona GOAT
Tributes to Maradona in Naples. Image: BackpagePix

So, there you have it. No scientific proof whatsoever, just a reminder of the truth burning deep down in all of our hearts. Diego Maradona is the greatest footballer ever to have lived, and nobody is going to change that, purely because no player will ever do it like he did it.

Hit up James Freemantle for more insights, analysis and love for the beautiful game.

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