What is the Sports Term GOAT? 

GOAT (Greatest of All Time) is a term used in the past years. It is tied to people who are deemed the best in the sport in which they have performed or are still performing. Alongside the names of sports stars such as Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Usain Bolt, this term definitely stands. They have achieved incredible achievements in sports, recorded impressive results and won many trophies. The term was introduced by Mohamed Ali’s wife, who used it as a marketing ploy. Players called GOAT in football, are characterized by great skills, talent and they have given a new dimension to the sport they play or have played.

And while in sports like basketball or boxing where Michael Jordan and Mohammed were the best it is easy to declare the best of all time, in other sports there is a frequent debate about who the GOAT is. In tennis, we are all witnessing a great fight between three fantastic players, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who are fighting for the title of the greatest player of all time.

Discussing the “GOAT in Football” & Why is it Used

Yet, the biggest discussions about who is the greatest player of all time is in football. It is a never-ending debate about the footballers who deserve to be called the GOAT. Many phenomenal players have gone through the history of this game, which is called the most important of the less important things in the world. Names like Edson Arantes do Nascimento known as Pele, Johan Cruyff, Diego Armando Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo are still a special emotion for all football fans. Every one of them was fantastic in their own way and they all left football fans around the world breathless.

There has been a long controversy on whether the Brazilian Pele or the Argentine Maradona is the best football player. They were both masters of this game that marked the era in which they played and shaped the history of football. At the age of only 17, Pele led the Brazilian national team toward winning the World Cup. Even today, he scored the most goals in the national team jersey. On the other hand, Maradona was short in stature dribbler who drove his opponents crazy. He brought Argentina the title of World Champion at the championship that took place in Mexico in 1986. At the club level, he was the main protagonist of the two titles that Napoli won and in this city, he has the status of a deity. 

Among all the players throughout history, of all footballers called GOAT, which is the one that deserves this title? Today, among footballers called GOAT, two of them stand out. 

Why do People Call Lionel Messi the GOAT in Football?

There has been a long debate over who is better than these two once great footballers, and then in October 2004 a small Argentine boy appeared and made his debut for the first time in the official match for Barcelona. Already at the end of that season, he scored his first goal in the jersey of the Catalan club in a duel against Albacete, with the assistance of the great Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho. This was Lionel Messi. 

FC Barcelona

Leo Messi made his debut for Barça in a friendly match against Porto in November 2003. Unlike many footballers who would shine for a season or two, he has been playing at a top level for 15 years now. It can be freely said that he changed the history of Barcelona with his huge influence on the game. He contributed to the huge successes of this club with numerous goals and assists. Before the Messi era, Barcelona won only one European title in 1992. Thanks to Messi, Barça became the most dominant team in Europe and the worldas it was crowned with winning as many as four European titles in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015. By May 1, 2020, in 718 matches in the Barça jersey, he had scored an incredible number of goals627.

He has been named the best player in the world 6 times by the FIFA World Football Federation. With that, he became alone at the top, with his biggest competitor Cristiano Ronaldo, who has five of these awards. He won the Golden Ball for the first time in 2009, and after that in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019. He also won the European Golden Boot title six times, in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018 and 2019. All these accomplishments make him worthy among the footballers called GOAT. 

Records & Achievements | Lionel Messi

Since the 2008/2009 season, his numbers have been impressive in terms of goals and assists. In that season alone in La Liga, in 31 appearances, he scored 23 goals and had 11 assists. In the 2011/2012 season, he scored an unrealistic 50 goals in 37 appearances in the league, while he scored 14 goals in 11 appearances in the Champions League. He scored an incredible 73 goals that season, which is an absolute record for the number of goals in one season. Since then, no season has passed with less than 40 goals, which is a statistical figure to remember.

It is worth mentioning that Leo Messi is the only player who has won the Golden Ball four times in a row. Also holding the record for the number of goals in one calendar year, in 2012 he scored 96 goals appearing with Barcelona and Argentina. It is also the fact that he scored 33 goals in 21 consecutive matches. Additionally, he is the only player who succeeded to be the top scorer with 50 goals and the best assistant with 15 assists in one season (2011/2012). He managed to score goals against every team in the league that season. Because of all these amazing achievements, many football fans around the world consider Leo Messi to be the best player in the history of football.


Perhaps the only blemish in Messi’s career is the fact that he did not achieve significant success with the Argentine national team. This is especially true when you look at appearances at the World Cups, where Argentina has always been one of the main favourites, but always returned empty-handed during his playing time. The closest was in the 2014 finals when they were defeated by Germany 1-0 in overtime. 

Why do People Call Cristiano Ronaldo the GOAT in Football? 

Manchester United

The main competitor of Leo Messi in the fight for the greatest player of all time is Cristiano Ronaldo. Their rivalry has lasted for over a decade now. They seem to have forced each other to be better and better with their rivalry statistics. Unlike Messi, who has dedicated his entire career to one club, Cristiano has so far lifted the cups of three championships. He has won the English Premier League three times with Manchester United in the 2006/2007, 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 seasons. The 2007/2008 season was especially impressive when Manchester United, after being better at penalty shootout, beat Chelsea and won the European champion’s title. Ronaldo was the scorer of the only goal in the regular match time. In 2009, he moved to Real Madrid for a record 80 million pounds. 

Real Madrid

In the royal club, he became a real goal machine and won as many as 4 European championship titles. Three consecutive titles were especially impressive, which no club has ever been able to do in the history of football. The greatest credit for that absolutely belongs to Ronaldo because he scored goals in all decisive matches and was the best player on the field. In the 2014/2015 season, he scored a phenomenal 48 goals on 35 appearances in the league. Since arriving at Real Madrid he has never finished the season with less than 30 goals scored. He won the Golden Ball meant for the best player five times, in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.

He scored 17 goals in one season in the Champions League, which is an absolute record. In that competition, he also holds the record for the number of goals scored with his head. He played 438 games for Real Madrid and scored a spectacular 451 goals. In one season, he scored as many as 8 hat tricks and a total of 34, which is also an absolute record.  

He is the best scorer in the history of the Madrid derby against Atletico Madridas well as getting to the goal sheet at 6 consecutive matches with Barcelona in the famous El Clasico derby, which is considered the greatest rivalry in the world. He is also the only player to have scored goals in 11 consecutive games in the Champions League. 


As for the Portuguese national team, he has been its captain since 2008. He achieved the greatest success in the national team jersey in 2016, winning the European Championship, held in France. Moreover, at the European Championship four years earlier, he was named the tournament’s top scorer. A truly great among the group of footballers called GOAT. 

Is There Really One Player Called GOAT in Football?

Who is the GOAT in football, Messi or Ronaldo… for many football fans, this is the question of all questions. It is difficult to give an answer to this question because their achievements are phenomenal and the two of them definitely deserve this title. They shaped the modern era of football and raised its quality and popularity. 

Numerous great football players have gone through the history of football and many of the footballers were called GOAT. Names like Messi, Ronaldo, Zidane, Cruyff, Maradona, and Pele are really spectacular and deserve the attribute of footballers called GOATEvery one of them was a special and exceptional football player and they had a great influence on the development of football as a sport. It is quite hard to pick one of them and declare him a GOAT in football.