Brazilian football great Pele has described Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s best contemporary footballer, rating the Juventus forward ahead of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
But the 79-year-old believes neither Ronaldo nor Messi are as good as he was during a celebrated career with Santos, the New York Cosmos and Brazil.
“Right now, Cristiano Ronaldo is the best, because he is the most consistent over the past 10 years, although Messi should not be forgotten,” Pele said in an interview on the Pilhado YouTube channel.
This, despite the Juventus star having only five Ballon d’Or awards, as opposed to Messi’s six, which is a record.
The former Brazil No. 10 also cited fellow Brazilians Zico, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo Nazario, Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and the Netherlands’ Johan Cruyff in his list of all-time favourite players.
He did not mention former Argentina forward Diego Maradona, widely regarded as Pele’s only rival for the title of the greatest player in history.
“There is only one king. Pele was better than all of them,” he said. “If I have to be honest, well, I’m telling you the truth – my father and mother closed the factory. There will only ever be one Pele.”
Pele is the only footballer to win three World Cups, and scored over 1,000 goals in a professional career that spanned 22 years.