Football not in a golden age at present: Pele

Rio de Janeiro, April 25 (IANS) Football may be going through its richest phase right now financially but Brazilian football legend Pele feels that we are currently not in a golden age as far as the quality of players is concerned.

The three-time World Cup winner, widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, said that there are not as many truly great players in countries that are strong in the sport.

“Once, you found two or three in every country with a great football culture,” Pelé told SportStar. “Eusébio, [António] Simões, [Johan] Cruyff, [Franz] Beckenbauer, [Diego] Maradona, Garrincha, Didi. How many did I say? There were so many.”

“Today, we have two or three in all. (Lionel) Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, I would say Neymar ­– who in Brazil has not yet managed to become a great figure.”

Neymar was considered as the player who would take over as the best in the world after Messi and Ronaldo phase out. The Brazilian even finished third in the race to the Ballon d’Or in 2015. However since his word record transfer from Barcelona to Paris St Germain, injuries have led to the 28-year-old not attaining that heights that were expected off him.

Pele however believes that Neymar is an excellent player and hopes that he comes good at the 2022 Qatar World Cup. “I hope that at the next World Cup he is in good physical condition,” he added. “People criticise him, I even did it a few times, but we forget that he is a product of ours, of Santos.

“We always want the best for him. I talk about him often with his father. Technically, he is an excellent player.”

Both Messi and Ronaldo are in their 30’s but continue to dominate football. Pele said that he considers Messi as the most complete player and that he would have loved to play alongside him.

“He [Messi] is a skilled player, gives assists, passes, scores, dribbles well,” he said. “If we were in the team together, the opponents should worry about two players, not just one! Today, Messi is the most complete player.”