Football is a sport that has always divided opinion, but one aspect of the game that may never reach finality is the debate over who the greatest footballer of all time is.
Depending on which era one was born, many football fans are likely to have variant answers when asked to make their pick. Four decades ago, many would have picked Brazil legend Pele; three decades ago, it would have been Argentine maestro Diego Maradona.
Meanwhile, most millennials would readily go for either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. In truth, all the aforementioned players are/were great in their own ways.
But there is more than one reason why Cristiano Ronaldo stands out when it comes to the greatest players of all time.
The Portuguese has similar achievements to his other competitors, if not even less, but he has shown over the last decade that his place is at the pinnacle of world football.
Here are three concrete reasons why Ronaldo is easily the greatest footballer of all time:
#1 He has made a bigger impact on the UEFA Champions League than any other player
To set the record straight, Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest scorer among all active footballers in the world currently. The Portuguese is the archetypal goal machine, and that is epitomised by the 586 goals he has scored thus far in his career.
Among his competitors for the crown of greatest footballer of all time, only Pele has scored more. However, the Brazil legend never played in the UEFA Champions League, where Ronaldo still reigns supreme.
No player has scored more goals in Europe’s elite club competition than the Portuguese who has 121 strikes to his name. Consider the fact that the UEFA Champions League is rated as the toughest and most competitive inter-club competition in the world and it is easy to see why Ronaldo is the greatest player of all time.
The Portuguese has not only won the Champions League five times, he has completely dominated the competition and has been crowned top scorer for the past four years consecutively.
#2 He has dominated in three different European leagues
You can mention Pele, Maradona or Messi as rivals to Ronaldo, but one thing that separates him from them is his domineering persona. The Portuguese has already conquered two of Europe’s major leagues and he is on the verge on conquering a third.
At 33, Ronaldo has an enviable achievement that many can only dream of, including Messi, Maradona and Pele. Having won numerous trophies, including the Premier League and UEFA Champions League with Manchester United, the Portuguese repeated the feat with Real Madrid.Advertisement
In fact, he even went a step further by helping Los Blancos to an unprecedented three successive European crowns. This is something neither of his contenders have managed in their careers.
Ronaldo has dominated the Premier League and LaLiga and currently, he is dominating the Serie A too with Juventus, where he is the top-scorer with 14 goals. Surely, only the greatest player of all time can boast of such a feat.
#3 He is a beast for both club and country
A renowned football pundit once said that there is a big difference between a good player and a great player. Good players are good in a particular team, while great players go further by helping their teams win trophies. Ronaldo falls within both categories.
The 33-year-old has proven to be a beast at both club and international level. Messi, for instance, has often struggled to be at his best when playing for the Argentina national team; Maradona was effective for Argentina but his biggest impact at club level only came at Napoli, while Pele never truly played outside South America.
Not only is Ronaldo the all-time top scorer for Portugal, he is also the first captain ever to lead the nation to a trophy, having helped the Selecao to Euro 2016.
As far as standout performances go, the Juventus star remains at the top for both club and country. Pele and Maradona may have won the World Cup, but it could be argued that they played in some of the most talented squads one could ever put together.
On the contrary, Ronaldo has not been that lucky but has still managed to achieve tremendous success with the national team despite the relative lack of quality. Add that to the fact that the Portuguese is also the most complete footballer in the world and you simply have the GOAT!