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Pope asked if Lionel Messi or Diego Maradona is greatest ever player, adds third legend into mix

Pope asked if Lionel Messi or Diego Maradona is greatest ever player, adds third legend into mix

Pope Francis added the great Pele to Messi and Maradona when asked about football's GOAT

The debate as to who is the greatest footballer of all time will likely rage on forever - but now Pope Francis has waded into the argument.

The head of the Catholic Church since 2013, the Pope is from Argentina - and as we know, there are a couple of fine candidates from that nation that can claim to be the GOAT.

The late, great Diego Maradona won two World Cups with his country and will always be a legend of Argentinian football, having passed away in 2020 at the age of 60.

He has been joined in the pantheon of footballing great to come from Argentina by the great Lionel Messi, who many now regard to be the greatest of all time after recently winning his eighth Ballon d'Or.

The one area of Messi's career which had been lacking until last year was big success with his national team to match the plethora of silverware he has picked up in his club career, most notably with Barcelona where he came through the youth team ranks.

But of course, that question was answered when Messi won the World Cup in Qatar with victory over France for his first and his country's third overall triumph in the competition.

Being Argentine, the Pope was asked if his countrymen Messi or Maradona are the best ever - but he waded into the debate and added a third name to the list.

Pope Francis named Pele alongside Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi as the greatest football players ever. (

The Pope named Brazilian legend Pele as among the greatest of all time.

The former striker passed away at the age of 82 in December 2022.

Asked who are the best players of all time and to pick between Messi and Maradona, the Pope told Italian TV show TG1: "I would add a third, Pele. They are the three I have followed. All three are great, each with his own specialty. At the moment Messi is very good.

"Maradona as a man failed, poor thing, he slipped, the people around him didn't help him.

"He came to see me the first year [I was pontiff]. [His life] ended badly. It's funny, many sportsmen end badly, even in boxing. It's curious.

"Messi is very correct, he is a gentleman. Among these three, the greatest gentleman is Pele.

"He is a man with a very big heart. I spoke to him, I met him on a plane in Buenos Aires, and he is a man of great humanity."

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Pele, Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona