Who are the greatest players to have ever kicked a football?
GOATS According To Pep Guardiola: Everybody seems to have their own list. But if you’re going to take anyone’s list seriously, it’s surely that of a man who reached the very top of the game both as a player and a coach. And we’re talking about none other than Pep Guardiola.
GOATS According To Pep Guardiola
The former Barcelona man, while paying tribute to the late Pele a year after his demise, mentioned 6 players who he thinks are the greatest in football history and whose legacies will live forever; we want to look at those players today. These are 6 GOATs according to Pep Guardiola.
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As we said, he was paying tribute to Pele, so of course, that was the first name he mentioned. He admitted to having never watched Pele play, but what he did for football is pretty evident for all to see.
Pep credited his 3 World Cup successes, the many goals he scored, and his sort of being the first real footballing superstar. The Spanish coach likened Pele to a good movie or a good book; so good, everyone is still talking about him decades after he retired. Now, that’s what you call impact!
And honestly, with all Pele achieved as a footballer, we don’t think anyone can argue with him being one of the greatest players of all time.
2. Lionel Messi
Another name you always expect Pep to mention when talking about football GOATs is Lionel Messi. Unlike Pele, Pep actually watched and still watched Messi play. In fact, he influenced and aided Messi’s career in a very huge way when he worked as coach of Barcelona between 2008 and 2012.
Pep has always been a huge fan of Messi’s. He hasn’t coached or worked with Messi for over a decade now, but he has remained very vocal about his love and admiration for the Argentine and constantly talks about how he is the greatest player ever.
And hey! You can’t even argue with Pep, can you? Messi has done it all. He has completed football; 8 Ballons d’Or, and 6 European Golden Shoes, the most decorated player in football history, we could go on and on. This guy is really the GOAT!
3. Diego Maradona
Pep did not fail to also recognize the contribution of the Argentine GOAT who came before Messi. And of course, we’re talking about none other than Diego Maradona.
Could you realistically make a list of the 6 greatest players of all time without including one of the most entertaining players in football history? Based on pure talent, Maradona could stake a claim as the outright best player to have ever kicked a ball. He’s one of those players that you just had to watch to really appreciate how good they were.
This is a man who battled with a lot of controversy on and off the pitch, especially with drugs, but he was so good that people were able to consistently overlook that.
Maradona was such a pleasure to watch; he produced some of the most exciting moments in football history, including the famous warmup ahead of the semi-final of the 1989 UEFA Cup semi-final against Bayern Munich and the Goal of the Century in the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup against England.
4. Johan Cruyff
Another player we surely expected to be on Pep’s list is Johan Cruyff. Just like Messi, Pep worked with Cruyff at Barcelona but in a very different capacity. Pep was coached by Cruyff when he was still a player at Barcelona and was even responsible for Pep’s only European success as a player. And till date, you can see Cruyff’s influence all over the way Pep’s teams play.
Cruyff is credited with being one of the originators of Total Football, the antecedent of Guardiola’s Tiki Taka style.
But including Cruyff in his list was not just sentimental, the Dutchman was actually so great. He won numerous trophies including 3 European Cups – what we now call the Champions League. He also won 3 Ballon d’Or awards, something only 5 players in football history have ever been able to achieve.
You see, Cruyff was not just good, he was also highly influential, so he definitely deserves to be in anybody’s top 6.
5. Franz Beckenbauer
We think defenders need representation in lists like this, and who is a better representation than 2-time Ballon d’Or winner Franz Beckenbauer?
He played as a defender and midfielder and was excellent in every position he played. Just like Messi, this German named Franz completed football. He remains one of just 9 players who won the World Cup, European Cup or Champions League, and the Ballon d’Or.
He made the Ballon d’Or Dream Team in 2020, so yes, Pep is right, Beckenbauer’s legacy will surely be eternal.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo
Well, many would’ve thought Pep’s loyalty to Lionel Messi would’ve caused him to leave Cristiano Ronaldo out of a list like this, but the former Bayern Munich boss apparently doesn’t play like that. He recognizes the Portuguese as one of the greatest players to have ever graced the game of football and named him in his list of 6 GOATs whose legacies will live forever.
Ronaldo remains the most successful player in UEFA Champions League history, the top scorer in football history, and he won the Ballon d’Or a staggering 5 times. We could really go on and on about Ronaldo’s achievements and contributions to the sport, but we all get the point, don’t we? It doesn’t matter where your loyalties lie, you just have to admit that CR7 is one of the GOATs of the beautiful game.
Now, those are the 6 players whose legacies Pep has said will be eternal; players who he says make the game better and make the fans feel all types of emotions, and honestly, we agree with him. But we couldn’t help but notice some big snubs from the Spaniard. Names like Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo Nazario, Michel Platini, and Alfredo Di Stefano were left out, but well, that’s just Pep’s opinion, innit?
What’s your own opinion, though? Who would you say are the greatest players in football history?
Tell us in the comments.