Messi, Ronaldo GOATs even without World Cup

Two legends of this era, most likely played their final World Cup games for Argentina and Portugal respectively

Ali Mangi July 07, 2018
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. PHOTO: AFP

Two legends of this era, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, most likely played their final World Cup games for Argentina and Portugal respectively.

Their failures in Russia have once again raised questions regarding whether they can be considered the greatest of all time (GOAT) without a World Cup medal.

Ronaldo is two years Messi’s senior at 33 but still remains one of the fittest players around. However, it remains doubtful that either will be playing at the top in four years’ time; superhumanly fast they may be but time eventually catches up with everyone.

Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo football match ends up in divorce

Their numbers, of course, make for eye-watering reading. A combined 1,275 goals, 432 assists, 56 titles and 52 individual awards put them above almost every other duo in the history of the game.

Around them football has changed and the two have evolved along with it, but what hasn’t changed is their contribution and numbers; these are players who have to deliver week in, week out.

In international football, much more than club football, you have to play the cards you are dealt. You can always change your club but you can never change your country. And for the best part of a decade, these two have almost single-handedly carried the goalscoring burden of their entire nations.

For Argentina, Messi has long been under the shadow of Diego Armando Maradona; doomed to forever be measured alongside feats that even Maradona himself would find difficult to replicate. Messi’s heroics had dragged La Albiceleste into this World Cup, with the Barcelona man scoring a hat-trick to help his country qualify for Russia.

Messi stuns reporter by wearing ribbon sent by his mother

The 4-3 defeat to France meant it was ultimately all for nothing but the qualification campaign underlined how dependent Argentina were on their captain.

Legacies are defined on fine margins and it is strange that few would question Messi’s legacy had Gonzalo Higuain scored the chance he so famously missed in the 2014 World Cup final against Germany.

Debate over who is the greatest player of all time is an ultimately futile one, with a unanimous decision impossible to ever be reached. However, taking anything away from the legacies of these two players merely because they haven’t won the World Cup is unfair not only to them but to the sport itself.

Messi and Ronaldo have both contributed so much for football — club and country combined — that the two must surely be considered the greatest players of all time; barring none.


Joseph Appiah | 5 years ago | Reply messi n Rinaldo are the best player for now,but messi still remains the best player ever in football history.
Joseph Appiah | 5 years ago | Reply Messi still remains the best player ever in football history
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ