Pele's 12 greatest footballers of all time include Ronaldo, Messi and Maradona
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Before his death in December 2022, Pele let the world know who he believed the greatest 12 footballers of all time were.
As well as being named alongside Diego Maradona as FIFA’s Player of the Century in 2000, Pele was known for his philanthropy work and for setting up his own charitable organisation, The Pele Foundation, in 2018.
While the former Santos Futebol Clube player is considered to be one of the greatest of all time, Pele himself had his favourites.
In 2020, the late star sat down with MadristaReal.com and discussed his top 10 football players of all time.
When asked who he believed to be the best, Pele said: “Another difficult question. There will be more than 10 in my time alone. I’ll leave some to answer your question.”
The first player the forward named was Argentina and Napoli star Maradona, with the second being the late Alfredo Di Stefano.
Despite hanging up his boots in 1966, the two-time Ballon d’Or winner remains the sixth-highest scorer in the history of Spain’s top flight of football. He also sits alongside Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid’s leading goalscorer in the history of El Clasico.
Pele also named Italy’s Giovanni Trapattoni inside his top 10, as well as Brazilian teammate Mane Garrincha. The latter is still regarded as one of the greatest dribblers of all time.
Speaking about Ronaldo, Pele believed that his nickname ‘The Phenomenon’ lived up to the hype.
“His nickname says it all. Ronaldo, it could well be the best '9' of all time. He was amazing. The size, the speed, the skill, everything fluid. I haven't seen that combination since then,” he said.
However, as well as his top 10, Pele decided to sneak in two names extra names to make it his top 12.
“Today we are lucky. Cristiano [Ronaldo] is great. [Lionel] Messi is incredible.”
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