A pointless debate

Ronaldo has scored in every Champions League game so far.
Ronaldo has scored in every Champions League game so far. / EFE
  • There will never be a definitive answer to the question of the best footballer, past or present

Some say Pelé was the greatest footballer of all time, some say Diego Maradona... others claim it was George Best and we have to respect the word of the elders who saw these amazing talents with their own eyes.

The modern fans are split between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

It's not a debate that I can enter, or want to enter, as social media can get quite toxic with the beholders who see only beauty in their particular favourite.

I would say just enjoy the time we are living in and the privilege of being able to turn on the television every week and see two talents from another sphere every week in full HD. That's not a plug to tune into Sky Sports every week, but of course you are welcome to join us - it's the wonder of the age we live in.

Pelé apparently scored over a thousand goals but how many are recorded for posterity? We have to rely on grainy images, which don't do his genius justice. If he was in his prime these days we'd be able to see every angle on our mobile phones, from multiple angles, an instant after he'd scored.

These days he'd probably be wearing the colours of Manchester City or PSG instead of the black and white stripes of Santos.

It's similar with George Best. I was honoured to conduct the interviews with him for his life-story film at his home in Northern Ireland. Although we discovered previously unseen footage of George going footloose and fancy free on a Spanish holiday, we couldn't locate any football action that hadn't been circulated millions of times already.

Maradona is more recent of course, and at least the majority of his memorable moments are in technicolour. Sadly too few of them were recorded and his career was self-curtailed.

I honestly thought we may be running out of magical moments from Cristiano Ronaldo now that he's turned 33 years of age. Before January he scored only four goals for preservation in the La Liga library but now he's donating again with an additional 18 goals in 11 Liga games this year (including four against Girona at the weekend). He's also scored in every Champions League game to add to the phenomenon.

Lionel Messi is a few European goals and three years of age behind Ronaldo and his powers show no sign of waning. I've written here before how I spent one match as a spectator just watching his movement. He's like a bluebottle, he rests, you try to swat him, then his speed and unpredictability of flight just makes him impossible to catch.

So put those arguments aside; just live for the moment. We all have access to witness two of the greatest talents, if not the greatest ever, in the same short space of time.

Lecture over.