Many football fans in Nigeria especially those interested in Paris Saint-Germain star Lionel Messi and Portuguese football icon Cristiano Ronaldo have expressed their opinion on who is the greatest man to play football on earth.
It is one of the most popular rivalries in world football, as the two superstars have dominated the football game for over a decade.
However, many observers insisted that both players needed world titles to cement their status alongside Pele and Diego Maradona.
And on Sunday in Doha, the debate seemed to have taken a special turn after Lionel Messi led Argentina to success in the just-concluded 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Messi led Argentina to the World Cup final, which they won by defeating France 4-2 on penalties.
Meanwhile, another discussion arose before, during and immediately after the final. This time it was about who was the best player at the World Cup between Messi and his PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe.
But that controversy was quickly erased after Messi lifted the trophy and won the Ballon d’Or, an award given to the tournament’s best player.
For many soccer fans, the debate over who is the greatest soccer player in history has ended after Messi’s feat in Qatar, but for others, nothing has changed.
Argentina lost its first match in the 2022 tournament against Saudi Arabia, and then won the rest of its matches against Poland and Mexico to qualify for the round of 16, where it beat Australia 2-1 to qualify for the quarter-finals. Then they defeated the Netherlands on penalties. The South Americans then beat Croatia 3-0 in the semi-finals to advance to the final, which they also won on penalties.
Messi’s lifelong rival, Ronaldo, could or was not allowed to do much to help Portugal in Qatar. The 37-year-old has only found the net once in his three group stage matches. The former Real Madrid goalkeeper was left on the bench in the 6-1 win over Switzerland in the Round of 16, as coach Fernando Santos favored Goncalo Ramos to lead his attack. The former Juventus and Manchester United player met the same fate in the quarter-finals, where the team was eliminated by Morocco.
Having won every trophy available in the world of football, including the most coveted trophy in the World Cup, many people, including Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, believe that Messi has cleared all reasonable doubts.
Guardiola has called Lionel Messi the greatest player of all time (GOAT), which puts him ahead of Diego Maradona, Di Stefano and Pele as the greatest players in history.
Without even mentioning Ronaldo, Guardiola believes that those who choose Maradona, Di Stefano and Pele do so for “emotional” reasons.
But Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta has insisted that Messi’s World Cup success will not settle the debate over who is the greatest footballer of all time.
Iniesta, who spent more than a decade playing alongside Messi at Barcelona, said the 35-year-old’s position in the game will always be moot despite Argentina’s thrilling victory over France.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has backed away from his claims of being the greatest footballer of all time (GOAT) after Argentina won the World Cup.
Kroos, who played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo in Spain for a number of years, had earlier pointed out that the Portugal captain was the best ever.
But after Messi led Argentina to glory in Qatar, the German appears to have changed his mind.
As sports experts, managers and players share their opinions on this endless debate, the DAILY POST has taken the debate to the streets of Abuja and for many sports fans and fans of the players, nothing has changed.
Asked if Messi’s success at the World Cup in Qatar erased the controversy, James Obiora replied: “For me, there has never been any discussion about who is the best player of all time. That title belongs to Messi. Whether he wins a trophy The world or not. He is the greatest. »
Fatima Daouda said: “When Ronaldo won Euro 2016 and the European Nations League, did the discussion subside? If it didn’t fade away, why does it fade now just because Messi won the World Cup on penalties? Ronaldo is the best scorer in football history, so he is the best of all time.” »
Essa Jabri says: “For me he is Messi. He has done great things for football. If you follow this man, he not only scores goals but is all over the field. Who can match his dribbling and agility? The greatest footballer of all time is him.” Messi.”
“I chose Messi to win the World Cup,” says Juanita Ocon, who works at a bookmaker. “I think there is no discussion anymore. The discussion ended as soon as Messi won the cup and the Ballon d’Or. Ronaldo’s fans have to accept that. It’s over now.”
For Israel Uddo, “A lot of players have a World Cup. Kylian Mbappe won it at the age of 18. Winning a World Cup doesn’t make a person a goat. Yes, he’s a great player.