footballers called goat

While in sports like basketball or boxing where Michael Jordan and Mohammed Ali could arguably be deemed the best. In other sports, there is a frequent debate about who the GOAT is.

In reality, no one can practically settle the ‘GOAT Debate’ for any sport, but we can understand the proper connotation of this massively popular term for the sports fan, or more particularly, the soccer heads like us! You dont want to miss it!

What is the Sports Term ‘GOAT’? 

GOAT is a term used as an acronym for the “Greatest of All Time”. 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 (soccer), are characterized by great skills, and talent and they have given a new dimension to the sport they play or have played.

GOAT in football

Who is the GOAT in Football (Soccer)?

Yet, the biggest discussions are about who is the greatest player of all time in football (soccer). It is a never-ending debate about the footballers who deserve to be called the GOAT.

However, many phenomenal players have gone through the history of this game. But not all phenomenal players can be categorized as the GOATs. In fact, we would like to segregate players into two classes; ‘The Greats’ and ‘The GOATs’.

the greats:

Looking back at the history of the game, we instantly get clicked by a few names like Ronaldinho, Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, Van Basten, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Gerd Muller, Kaka, Luis Suarez and the list keeps going on.

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Numerous names can be counted like that. These phenomenal players set standards and these standards might never get surpassed again ever. But there is a category above that!

the goats:

Moreover, names like Pele, Johan Cruyff, and Diego Armando Maradona, are still a special emotion for all football (soccer) fans. Every one of them was fantastic in their own way and they all left football (soccer) fans around the world breathless.

There has been a long controversy on whether the Brazilian Pele or the Argentine Maradona is the best football (soccer) player. They were both masters of this game that marked the era in which they played and shaped the history of football (soccer).

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 a 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.

The goats of the ‘now’:

Just when all the pundits thought that the ‘GOAT Debate’ will be finished after Pele and Maradona, the 21st century gave us two more names! They astonished us the way no one could ever do, and the standards and records were once again broken by these two beasts of the modern football!

Yes, it’s Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo we’re talking about. Let’s shed more light on these two.

Is Lionel Messi the GOAT in Football (Soccer)?

There has been a long debate over who is better than these two once-great footballers. In October 2004, a small Argentine boy appeared and made his FC Barcelona debut.

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. 

Catalan Legend

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 well over a decade.

It can be freely said that he changed the history of Barcelona with his huge influence on the game.

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 world.

As 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 goals: 627.

the ‘messi breakthrough’:

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 a record for the number of goals in one season.

2012; messi unleashed:

Also holding the record for the number of goals in one calendar year, in 2012 he scored 96 goals appearing with Barcelona and Argentina. 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 (soccer) fans around the world consider Leo Messi to be the best player in the history of football (soccer).

Messi, the GOAT in Football?

Golden Balls Galore

It is worth mentioning that Leo Messi is the only player who has won the Golden Ball four times in a row, seven times in total.

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, 2019 and 2021.

He also won the European Golden Boot title six times, in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018 and 2019. 


Lionel Messi made his debut for Argentina in a friendly match against Hungary in August 2005. He was only eighteen years old at the time, but he was immediately impressed with his skill and technique.

Although he did not score any goals and was also sent off, it was clear that Messi was going to be a star for Argentina.

sustained performances:

After his breakthrough at the 2006 World Cup, Messi continued to perform at a high level for Argentina. He helped them reach various latter stages of Copa America.

In addition, Messi has scored some important goals for Argentina in World Cup qualification matches over the years.

2014; the world cup ‘debacle’:

Most notably, Messi was part of the Argentina team that reached the final of the 2014 World Cup. Although they ultimately lost to Germany, it was still an impressive achievement.

copa america; the long awaited glory:

And, once again, Messi was named the player of the tournament. What cemented his place in Argentine folklore, was their latest Copa America triumph in 2021. where Argentina was crowned kings of South American football, after years of being second-best Brazil.

Is Cristiano Ronaldo the GOAT in Football (Soccer)? 

CR7, the GOAT in football?

The Premier League’s Star Boy

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. Cristiano has so far lifted the cups of three championships.

the english silverware:

He won the English Premier League three times with Manchester United in 2006/2007, 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 seasons. The 2007/2008 season was especially impressive when Manchester United, after being better at penalty shootouts, 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. 

Lighting Up 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 (soccer).

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.

a goal-netting machine:

In the 2014/2015 season, he scored a phenomenal 48 goals on 35 appearances in the league. Since arriving at Real Madrid he 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.

dominating spanish and european football(soccer):

He scored 17 goals in one season in the Champions League, a European 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 Madrid, as well as getting to the goal sheet in 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 More than One GOAT in Football (Soccer): Messi, Ronaldo, Maradona, Pele?

Who is the GOAT in football (soccer), Messi or Ronaldo… for many football (soccer) fans, this is the question of all questions. 

It is difficult to give an answer to this question because their achievements are phenomenal. They shaped the modern era of football (soccer) and raised its quality and popularity. 

We’re close to the end now, and it’s true that no one can establish one name as GOAT. But there are only handful of players in that category if we were to be fair. 4 players, which include Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Maradona, and Pele are really spectacular and deserve the attribute of footballers called GOAT. 

Every one of them was a special and exceptional football (soccer) player and they had a great influence on the development of football (soccer) as a sport. It is quite hard to pick one of them and declare him a GOAT in football (soccer). 


We loved it! Here we are at the end, after such an exciting debate on one of the most hot topics in football(soccer). It gave us a chance to walk you through the enticing careers of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Not to forget, the spectacular details of Maradona and Pele, about how they lit up the whole world in 20th century!

Football has truly given us a lot of joy in the shape of these ballers! Thanks for reading till the very end. We will see you in one of our other articles.

Did we forget to mention? We have hundreds of such amazing soccer articles in our soccer section. Explore it here! Happy Readings!

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