By FNR in collaboration with Groupon

Every football fan has very strong opinions about their top football players. This is only natural considering football is such a passionate game – with 4 billion fans, it’s the most popular sport in the world. However, after taking a step back and having a good look at the evidence, here are the top three footballers that we believe will go down in history as the greatest.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi is the ultimate 21st-century football great. We have watched in awe as he dominated La Liga – this Spanish league is one of the most competitive in the world, and it’s here that we saw Messi evolve into one of the greatest footballers of all time. He may not have won a world cup yet, and we hope he will in the future, but with or without the trophy in his hands, Messi will be remembered as an exceptionally gifted player.

Perhaps Messi’s most astounding achievement is that, at 82 goals, he holds the world record for the most goals scored in one football season, breaking his own previous record of 50 goals. He took yet another world record title when he won the Ballon d’Or for the fifth time, and he was also the first European player to receive three European Golden Shoes.

With a truly fascinating football career that everyone has enjoyed watching, his icon status was confirmed during his time at Barcelona, which included winning La Liga eight times and achieving four Champions League titles.

Diego Maradona

Despite any bitterness that resulted from the famous “Hand of God” goal against England, knocking them out of the world cup in 1986, it is no question for football fans that Diego Maradona was an exceptionally talented player that should be remembered and respected in football history.

Watching Maradona dribble the ball was like watching Da Vinci perfect Mona Lisa’s smile – he’s an artist and he made a masterpiece out of football. Anyone who doubted this was proved wrong when he near single-handedly won the world cup for Argentina in 1986.

A hero’s journey, Maradona’s European career didn’t look so bright at Barcelona, but he created a lasting impression at Napoli where he achieved two Serie A wins.

Pele

Without a doubt, Pele is currently considered the ultimate football player of the 20th century. In fact, he has been considered the greatest for a long time, and we are sure he still will be long into the future.

Unlike other players, Pele’s club career is not what he’s best known for. He played for Santos and had a stint in the American league, but it wasn’t these performances that led him to become an international football hero. Of course, it was the unprecedented way that Pele won the world cup for Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970. A feat that every other football player has struggled to come close to ever since.

Over to you…

What do you think? Who’s your personal favourite? Who knows, maybe this has inspired you to take up football and fight to become the greatest yourself! With more than 1 billion adults reportedly not getting enough exercise around the world, maybe it’s time that we all started following in the footsteps of these phenomenal athletes.

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Josh Parish
josh@footballnationradio.com.au