Who Is the King of Football?
Football is the most popular sport in the world, and it’s only natural for people to wonder which team is the best, but more importantly, which player is the best. That’s why the question of who is the king of football has been debated for ages, especially in the last 50 years.
This is especially the case with sports bettors who know that such questions can help them place better bets. You’re on the constant lookout for anytime goalscorer tips that will tell you the best goalscorers at the moment, and scored goals are certainly a big aspect of determining the identity of the king of football.
But is the number of goals everything, or is there more to the question? Plus, hasn’t this question changed over time since the very sport has changed dramatically? All of this, and more, will be answered in this piece, so keep reading.
What Are the Criteria for Becoming a “King of Football”?
Many believe that the most important criteria for determining the king of football is to look at the goals scored. However, others think that this is not enough.
For instance, how do we determine the exact number of goals scored? It’s hard because we can’t account for any game and any league or competition in which the players participated. We need to have some official way of counting.
The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) has taken it upon itself to count the goals of all players throughout the official club and international competitions. Even though it’s the governing body of football in the world, FIFA doesn’t keep such records and has never released a list of the top goalscorers.
Besides goals, many believe that we need to look at how the players play the game. We need to look at their skills, footwork, and more. There are also other stats to consider, most notably the number of assists.
However, the unfortunate reality is that we can’t take all of this into account because we can’t easily quantify “skills,” and we can’t really combine several stats into one.
This is the way the main criteria for determining the king of football is to look at the number of goals scored, specifically the ones counted by the IFFHS.
Which Players Are Considered the Greatest in the History of Football?
Now, just because we can’t quantify something, that doesn’t mean we can’t state who are the contenders for the greatest players in the history of football.
Opinions differ, but from our research, we’ve found that these players are most often considered to be the best players of all time:
- Pele — Often considered the best player of all time and certainly the one with the most World Cups behind him
- Diego Maradona — One of the few players who could perform amazing stunts with his feet
- Lionel Messi — One of the greatest players of the modern generation, if not the greatest today
- Christiano Ronaldo — The ridiculously talented Portuguese superstar considered to be one of the best players today
- Zinedine Zidane — The French football hero and winner of the Ballon d’Or in 1998
- Garrincha — One of the most talented players ever with two World Cup wins with Brazil
- Alfredo Di Stefano — A massively successful goalscorer who spent a big part of his career with Real Madrid
- Johan Cruyff — One of the biggest football superstars, playing as the forward attacking midfielder
- Franz Beckenbauer — Known as The Emperor, one of the best players of old still remembered by many fans
- Ronaldo Nazario — The O Fenomeno, Ronaldo is widely believed to be the greatest striker ever
Even though most of these players are no longer playing, and some are not even alive, you can still bet on others and the teams they represent. One of the top sites for that is undoubtedly Betika. It’s one of the most popular bookmakers in Kenya with a lot of users.
Which Players Scored the Most Goals for Clubs and Countries?
The players who have scored the most goals for clubs and in international competitions are the ones with the most goals in total. That’s all according to the IFFHS. In other words, you can consider this list to feature the king of football in the top spot, according to this criteria.
- Christiano Ronaldo (Portugal) — 803 goals (active from 2002)
- Pele (Brazil) — 765 goals (active from 1957-1977)
- Lionel Messi (Argentina) — 758 goals (active from 2004)
- Romario (Brazil) — 753 goals (active from 1985-2007)
- Ferenc Puskas (Hungary, Spain) — 729 goals (active from 1943-1966)
- Josef Bican (Austria, Czechia) — 720 goals (active from 1931-1955)
- Jimmy Jones (England) — 647 goals (active from 1947-1964)
- Gerd Muller (Germany) — 634 goals (active from 1964-1981)
- Eusebio (Portugal) — 622 goals (active from 1958-1981)
- Joe Bambrick (Ireland) — 616 goals (active from 1926-1943)
- Glenn Ferguson (Northern Ireland) — 562 goals (active from 1987-2011)
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) — 559 goals (active from 1999)
- Fernando Peyroteo (Portugal) — 552 goals (active from 1937-1949)
- Uwe Seeler (Germany) — 551 goals (active from 1954-1978)
- Jimmy McGrory (Scotland) — 550 goals (active from 1922-1937)
It’s worth mentioning that there are some differences in counting, at least when we consider another vital organization — the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF). It takes into account competitions on all levels. By its count, the top five players are:
- Erwin Helmchen (Germany) — 987+ goals (active from 1924-1951)
- Josef Bican (Austria, Czechia) — 950+ goals (active from 1930-1957)
- Ronnie Rooke (England) — 929+ goals (active from 1929-1961)
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) — 821 goals (active from 2002)
- Jimmy Jones (Northern Ireland) — 809+ goals (active from 1944-1965)
Which Modern Players Are Considered as GOATs?
GOAT, or Greatest of All Time, is a term used to describe, well, the greatest football player of all time. Today, only two names are under consideration — Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo.
Naturally, we can consider other players, like many of the ones we’ve already discussed, but most people focus on these two, as they are the best two players still playing.
Let’s take a look at arguments for both.
Arguments for Leo Messi
Leo Messi hasn’t scored as many goals like Ronaldo, but it has to be said that Ronaldo has had a head start — he played two more seasons than the Argentinian.
Messi still has a better season average — 39.5 compared to Ronaldo’s 35. He also hit a high of 73 goals in the 2011-12 season, compared to Ronaldo’s high of 61 in 2014-15.
On top of that, Messi continued scoring many goals every season, only slightly lowering his average number as of joining PSG, but Ronaldo’s numbers have been declining more sharply. This could easily translate into Messi overtaking Ronaldo in a few years.
Messi is also better than Ronaldo compared to overall assists. Messi had 226 of them at the time of writing, while Ronaldo only had 139.
Arguments for Christiano Ronaldo
It’s clear that Christiano Ronaldo has scored more goals than Messi, but that’s only for now, as both players are still active, and this number can consequently easily change.
Ronaldo is also better in the Champions League. He has more appearances, 182 compared to Messi’s 156, and more goals, 140 to 125. Messi only has a slightly better number per game, 0.8 compared to Ronaldo’s 0.77.
Ronaldo is also the all-time best goalscorer in the Champions League.
Continuing his better goalscorer numbers, Ronaldo also has more goals in the World Cup, seven compared to Messi’s six.
So, who is the king of football? One would think of Pele, as he has, until recently, had the most goals scored but is also considered the best in numerous other regards.
However, with Ronaldo overtaking him in the numbers game, he can easily be the king of football. And by that critical metric, he is, but it’s worth mentioning that his battle against Lionel Messi hasn’t ended, and it won’t for a while.
Based on that, it’s hard to decide, and only time will tell who is the winner in this war of talents.