YOUR COMMENTS: As Pele is laid to rest, was he the GREATEST of all time – or should Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Diego Maradona win the title? MailOnline readers have their say on football’s greatest debate

As Brazil legend Pele lies in state ahead of his funeral in Santos on Tuesday, the footballing world is preparing to lay one of sport’s greatest ever talents to rest.

Since Pele’s passing at the age of 82 last week, fans have continued to dispute football’s greatest-of-all-time debate, weighing up whether the three-time World Cup winner deserves the title over superstars Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Maradona. 

For many, Pele will always be viewed as the greatest ever, but Messi staked a major claim after finally leading Argentina to World Cup glory last month, as Maradona did in 1986. And Ronaldo’s brigade of superfans remain as faithful as ever following his record-breaking £175m-a-year move to Saudi Arabia this week…

Football prepares to lay Pele to rest after the Brazilian legend passed away aged 82 last week

Football prepares to lay Pele to rest after the Brazilian legend passed away aged 82 last week

Cristiano Ronaldo is considered one of the greatest ever footballers to grace the pitch

Lionel Messi staked his claim as the greatest ever after winning the World Cup last month

Lionel Messi (R) and Cristiano Ronaldo (L) have rivalled Pele in the greatest of all time debate

Click the comment to add your response:

Different era’s different Kings.. Pele.. then Maradona and now Messi… All Kings of there era – Stephen, London, United Kingdom 

Wasn’t quite old enough for the Pele era and young when Maradona was big, I have loved seeing Messi evolve over the years, he is one of a kind. Ronaldo does have talent but his arrogance gets in the way of it – billyding, SA, Australia

The undisputed king is Pele, the only one who won the World Cup 3 times, followed by Maradona. CR7 is not even fit to lace their boots – Thorvex, WA, Australia

Messi is definitely not in the top 5: Pele, Maradona, Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Zidane, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho are all better than him! Edwin, Hong Kong

Pele as he was the innovator for everybody coming behind him, plus 3 World CUPS, end of!!!! Colin1, Chatham

Pele was the best. He not only scored goals he also created them for other team players – market stall, United Kingdom

Quite simply the greatest player I have ever seen play football. He is now with Best and Maradona in Heaven. What a forward line. RIP Pele – davvo111, United Kingdom

Pele then Cruyff… played when defenders took no prisoners and some countries, e.g Argentina kicked lumps out of anything that moved. AND that was before they got on the pitch – BC Kev, West Bromwich, United Kingdom


Is Pele the greatest footballer of all-time?

  • Yes – He’s football’s icon 112 votes
  • No – Messi’s overtaken him 71 votes
  • No – That’s Ronaldo 11 votes
  • No – It’s Maradona 26 votes
  • … It’s someone else! 9 votes

No contest!! PELE simple is the best ever! Pitches, Equipment, compared to the modern day players is like chalk and cheese! Shorty1967, London, United Kingdom

Ronaldo is not even in the conversation…. So overrated – Rocky..Racoon, Isle Of Man

Messi plays more games than Maradona did, on pristine pitches, with top dieticians and sports scientists fuelling him; and without knee-high tackles being fair game. If Maradona was playing now, he’d be playing that many games a season too – Three Tone, Nuneaton, United Kingdom

PELE was the greatest of all of them. Players of today would never be able to play under the same conditions on the pitches, the kit, the balls, the science, no substitutions and would never be able to take the amount of punishment dished out on the field then, there was no diving and play acting like now. Those not privileged to have seen this man play have no idea what they missed. He had speed strength, skill capable of being better than any with his heading ability could use both feet and could score from great distance from anywhere on the pitch – sabrina111, London, United Kingdom

Don’t forget George Best! G Roper, Canterbury

If were talking about achievements Pele is the GOAT with Messi very close. If were choosing who’s the best professional I’d say CR (but very far from the others in terms of talent). If were talking about who’s the most gifted, talented, dazzling player ever there is only one god, one D10S! The Thin White Duke, United Kingdom

The Brazil team of 1970 were amazing, Pele was beautiful to watch. RIP sir – Inthenorth, United Kingdom

A good time to pick an all time best eleven. Mine would be: Banks, Alberto, Baresi, Beckenbauer, Brehme, Maradona, Messi, Netzer, Ronaldo, Muller, Pele. We could all probably pick several teams, but I think Pele, Messi, Ronaldo and Maradona would be in them all – c.traven, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

There is no doubt whatsoever, the best is Johan Cruyff. His footballing skills were second to none, but he also had a great impact on the rest of his teams. His influence on Ajax, Holland and Barcelona was the influence of excellent skills, but also of a manager’s brain – Bert Weenink, Abertillery, United Kingdom

1. Maradona 2. Pele and then big drop off to 3. Messi, Cruyff , Best… Maradona. Single handedly won WC and then got to a final. He took Napoli from being scrubs to Euro Cup!!!…in one year!!! He was sick and there will never ever be a goal like the second against England in 86… that’s all there is to it – Roastlamb, Gold Coast, Australia

Football is about art and magic moments not stats. Pele, Maradona, Ronaldinho and Messi were the magicians of their generations. All the rest like R9, CR7, Cruyff, Zidane had not the same talent as these – Aframe, Hamburg, Germany

Pele did it all first — on awful pitches, against thug defenders – cvgb1, London, United Kingdom

It could have been R9. All the names that get mentioned, the only player God level ability wise and also God level physically – Michael Heath1, Reading, United Kingdom

What a great player. I was fortunate to see him play for his club, Santos when they visited Villa Park in 1972. The ground was absolutely packed – Jax, Midlands, United Kingdom 

Messi for me. Faster game. His skill is on another level – northernlad59, Shipley, United Kingdom

Pele. Maradona. That’s it – Simbo25, Los Angeles, United States

In the US, some sports or occupations have become synonymous with the names of certain people, like scientist and Albert Einstein comes to mind, or inventor and it’s Thomas Edison, or baseball – Babe Ruth, or basketball – Michael Jordan, etc. and I think that it is Pele who first comes to mind when soccer, that is football, is mentioned – suzgrad, Los Angeles, United States 

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