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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
Read
Mar 8, 2004

Your verdict: Pele's list

Brazil legend Pele has upset virtually everybody with his choice of the 120 best living players in the world for FIFA....or should that be FIFA's politically correct, Pele endorsed list?

The Brazilian's fellow countrymen are furious that he has snubbed some of their greatest players and the local media are far from happy that 'Italy and France have more stars than Brazil', as they report.

But it's not just Brazilians that are unhappy, newsdesk@soccernet.com has been inundated with emails from around the globe, infuriated that their country has not been adequately represented.


As someone once quipped, being a great player does not necessarily make you knowledgeable about football. Pele's list is laughable at best and atrocious at worst. Ronaldinho an all time great? Cry-baby El-hadji Diouf an all time great?.

Is Francesco Totti better than Alessandro Altobelli and Marco Tardelli? Is Patrick Viera better than Giresse or Fernandez? Garrincha, Nilton Santos, Gerson, Tostao, Rivelino and maybe Eder all missing. Thuram included yet Battiston, Amoros and Fernandez missing. If Rinat Dasayev gets in I do not see how Lev Yashin is missing.

I am shocked at the number of contemporary players listed as all time greats. Some of them like Michael Owen are not even halfway through their careers and have no real major titles to their name. I am stunned and shocked. I think this list just proves a point. Being a great footballer really does have nothing to do with knowing football. Half the list is really not tenable.
Brian Mulenga It's true that everybody reading the list would want to see other players included, and some of the ones selected taken off Pele's list, but I'm surprised that a number of people are adamant that players such as Stanley Mathews, Bobby Moore and Garrincha should have been included. Yes, they should be in a hall of fame, alongside John Charles, Dixie Dean, Puskas, etc., but it was made perfectly clear that Pele's list only contained 'living' legends.

I would have liked to see Yashin, Blokhin, Koeman (how could he leave him out), Scifo, Krol, Netzer, Chilavert and Giggs in the list, seeing as some of the others can't lick their boots. Also, not including Liam Brady and Johnny Giles is a bit harsh, as well as Jimmy Greaves. All in all it wasn't such a bad effort...we all have preferences.
Steve Varley

In my mind, Pele is the greatest footballer of all time. But his ability to gauge the significance of others leaves something to be desired. His list of the 120 greatest living players contains too many youngsters who, while talented, have not proved themselves on the world stage over time. By this I mean footballers such as Javier Saviola, Michael Owen and Michael Ballack - all great players, yes, but let's wait a while before we assign them to a hall of fame.

Many of Pele's other choices are confounding. The omissions are glaring, particularly when compared to the inclusions. For example, among Belgian players, Pele selects Cuelemens, Pfaff and van der Elst, but not Enzo Scifo. From Chile, Zamarano but not Salas. From Croatia, Suker but not Prosinecki. From England, he selects Kevin Keegan, but neither Stanley Matthews nor Bobby Moore. From the Netherlands, the van der Kerkhof brothers make the list, but Krol and Rep do not. From Poland, Boniek but not the great winger Lato. From South Korea, Hong Myung-Bo but not Cha Bum-Kun. From Turkey, Emre but not Hakan Sukur.

Incidentally, I am not at all bothered by the fact that Pele chose two women as the best footballers the USA has produced. In fact, I am pleased that he chose both Akers and Hamm, as each has made valuable contributions to the world game. But if one is going to include female players in the list, why not Sun Wen of China?

I admit it is easy to pick apart anyone's "greatest" list. I just assumed that a player of the caliber of Pele would be a better judge of talent. I was wrong.
Patrick Roten, USA

I think 'the greatest' is going crazy. Some of these players hasn't had that much of an impact on football to be included in here. A few notable ommisions for me are:

  • Zubezerretta –Spain
  • Joao Pinto – Portugal
  • Asprilla – Colombia
  • Ruben Sosa – Uruguay
  • Rudi Voller – Germany
  • Bobby Moore – England
  • Dunga – Brazil
  • Hossan Hassam -Egypt

    Half of the 1970 world cup winning squad should be there too. How is it possible to leave out Garrincha? Is it because Garrincha was tipped to be a better player than him?
    Lincoln Mackett

    Hello Pele. Have you lost it? What about Wales? Ever heard of Ryan Giggs? Ian Rush?
    Ramon Gonzalez, USA

    I understand that any list of 120 can hardly acknowledge the abundance of talent displayed thoughout the history of football. However, I feel that a few were snubbed in favour of hype and hoopla. Could Jairzinho, Dunga or Careca not have received mention ahead of, say, Romario, Hidetoshi Nakata or Hong Myung-Bo (I am by no means a big fan of Brazil at that). Other notable absences on my list: Ronald Koeman and Mark Overmars (Netherlands); Harald Toni Schumacher (Germany); Enzo Schifo (Belgium); Blanco (Mexico). Just a thought...or two.

    Personally I feel that Brazilian complaints are ridiculous, 12 players from a list of 120 is a really good number for one country. There are although a high amount of French footballers on the list, especially players who played before 1996, when French football became prominent after they reached the semi-finals of the European Championship.

    Claims by sports newspaper Lance, that Rivelino, Gerson, and Tostao should be on the list instead of Hong Myung Bo, Abedi Pele, and El Hadji Diouf offend me. I feel that enough attention isn't paid to African and Asian footballers, who seem to be the illegitimate child of football. I also feel that Sweden's Martin Dahlin, Nigeria's Rashidi Yekini, and Morocco's Nourredine Naybet should be on the list.
    Essien-Ita Edwin Offiong

    I notice Harry Kewell doesn't get a mention yet Okacha, Nakata and Milla do. If these 3 are better than Kewell, I'm an orangutan, that can type.

    Also, even though I cannot stand Man U, in an unbiased view, I'm afraid that Giggs is possibly the most consistant and best player of the last 10 years. Me thinks Pele needs his thinking cap on.
    B.Cork

    Personally, I am of the unhesitating opinion that Pele is the best footballer ever. Maradona is the clear contender for 2nd place, but his shocking ethics (the'hand of god', to name just one) could never allow him top spot. Furthermore, as an ambassador for the game, Pele has been excellent. He faced up to the mighty, Havelange (whom the world of soccer could well have done without) with dignity, especially when he was not invited to the World Cup draw some years back, because of his criticism of the corruption in Brazilian football.

    However, I am deeply disappointed and confused with his 120 Greatest List. If I didn't know this was Pele I would have thought it was someone's joke. Having watched the Brazilian team in 1970 in Mexico, I cannot understand how Rivelino,Tostao, Jairzinho and Gerson fail to make the list. And what about Garrincha (the little bird) whom Pele played alongside. Anyone who thinks that South Korea's Hong Myung-Bo could lick the boots of the aforementioned 5 needs his head read. (And that is said with no disrespect to Bo, who I am sure is a great player).

    Also, what the heck are two ladies doing on the list? It smack of tokenism and a desire to please the Womens' libbers. There must be 10 thousand players out there ahead of these 2 fine lady players. The British choices also seems odd. Bobby Moore comes to mind, Dennis Law would be on most lists, and I'm sure I could think of others.

    Maybe it is human nature to see the greatness in a player who is out there playing now, as opposed to having some vague memory of someone from way back. All in all - a poor list, and I'm sorry Pele, I know you are entitled to your own opinion, but it is sorely lacking, and I'm willing to bet there are thousands of people who will think the same way.
    Jeffrey Sapire, South Africa

    Felipe Scolari stated it so well: If you want to win at football, listen to what Pele says and do the exact opposite.

    Pele may me a top 5 player of all time in most circles, but his list made laugh more than I have laughed all year. Diouf of Senegal? Abidi Pele? Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers? Nakata? As if!

    With Pele acting as lap dog to Sepp Blatter these days, it shows how irrelevant he has become to the modern game. This list supports that 100%.
    E.Barber

    Hi, I think Pele's list is a great one but also think he's human which may be responsible for him leaving out some really important names. Or how can one excuse the exclusion of Paul Gascoigne from the list when Michael Owen is considered good enough for it. No taking away anything from Owen's brilliance but Gazza will make any team on planet earth.

    Again, the country listing across players' names seems to be a criterion or something I don't understand. Must there be a player from every country or a particular country, e.g. Senegal? If El Hadji Diouf is included, then why the exclusion of Patrick Mboma or the legendary Egyptian Hossam Hassan? Of course, in all regards, Mboma is a greater player than Diouf now and permit me to say, most likely, evermore.

    In all, 120 is a number that will neverbe able to accommodate the world's greatest, or best as FIFA put it.
    Femi Oyedola, Nigeria

    I think this list from FIFA dis-respects alot of great players. What about Geoff Hurst who scored a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final and Henrik Larsson for Sweden. I find it quite farcical that they have included 2 women from America - have they got anyone better in the men's league over there.

    FIFA do not respect the English game. They are always bigging up the French, Italian and German leagues. Blatter loves Platini, and Pele puts himself in his own list.
    A.Doherty

    I am absolutely incensed that players like Roberto Carlos and Cafu who are legends in themselves have the nerve to question Pele himself! Pele as we all know was an incredible footballer, surely they cannot question his choices? So what if Pele has actually picked a diverse bunch of players? Football isn't just about Brazilian flair or passion, it is a phenomenon that touches all corners of the world, therefore having a list of international, not just Brazilian players, truly shows that.

    Carlos and Cafu are great players but before they make arrogant comments about who Pele picks, they need to think about other non-Brazilian football players who are equally great such as Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, George Weah, Roger Milla et al.

    Arrogance in football is a pathetic sight and unfortunately the Brazilians obviously have too much of it.
    K.T, Tanzania

    In the days when "Russia" was the USSR, probably its greatest player had been Oleg Blokhin. Played for Dynamo Kiev, was European player of the Year in the mid '70, and an absolutely prolific striker.

    Surprised he wasn't listed by Pele. Ditto Ryan Giggs.
    Michael, Australia

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