Belfast Telegraph

James Lawton's 10 greatest footballers of all-time - did Messi, Best, or Ronaldo make the grade?

You can do no better than invade the most vital moments of your destiny, gather together the best of your talent and strongest of your will. Cristiano Ronaldo collected the Ballon D'Or last night not as a gift but an absolute right.

In Rio this summer he may advance further a career which is already underpinned by the brilliant achievement of refining, and maturing, his game to the point where he inevitably claims a place among the 10 best players of all time.

Success in the World Cup, which for the time being is the ultimate test of a great footballer, would surely carry him to a place above his superb but currently injury-besieged rival Lionel Messi.

Such glory eluded Messi in South Africa four years ago and it is an account he has to settle as he strives to return to his old astonishing level of performance. Ronaldo had secured a distinct edge last night with his stupendous goals and his stunning physical strength.

Certainly there is reason to believe that he may prove to be the enduring talent of his generation.

Meanwhile, as we draw up our revived list of football history's top 10 we can again only regret the fact there is no place for any of the great defenders, men like Italy's Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini, nor such virtuosos as Garrincha, Gerson and Denis Law.

Law? If he doesn't make the top 10, he does have one enduring tribute.

It is the consensus of a touring Brazilian team that he was the one player they would like to wrap up and take home.












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