via Reuters

Soccer has witnessed some of the greatest names grace the pitch. While there have been countless debates about who stands at the pinnacle of the beautiful game, Rio Ferdinand went on a quest to uncover the Top 3 greatest players of all time by seeking insights from legendary figures in soccer. However, to the surprise of the Manchester United icon, Lionel Messi failed to make the cut—a notion he adamantly doesn’t ‘agree‘ with.

The revelation was made on ‘Rio Ferdinand Presents Five’. Notably, before asking others, Ferdinand revealed his list which included Ronaldo Nazario, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi. “Do not get me wrong; Ronaldinho, Zidan, and Maradona [are good] but Messi, Ronaldo, and Cristianowhat they’ve done, it blows your mind,” he explained. Then, the first person he asked was his former teammate, Ji-Sung Park, who took the names of Diego Maradona, Patrice Evra, and Lee Young-Pyo. 

Luis Figo named Pele, Portuguese icon Eusebio, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Likewise, Chelsea legend Didier Drogba again cited Maradona and R9 while surprisingly mentioning Zinedine Zidane. Interestingly, Roberto Carlos, who was adamant about giving four names instead, also took R9, Maradona, and Zidane’s names, while hilariously taking Ferdinand’s name by saying, ‘You the best.’ As his quest to find the Top 3 came to an end, the iconic England center-back was shocked to see everyone ditch Messi. However, Ferdinand had a counterargument ready.


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“My legends have just told me that Messi is not one of the top three players to ever play the game. I don’t agree. I’ve got to be honest, I think he is. Let me go sort them,” he concluded. While it is startling to see La Pulga miss out, he made it on one of R9’s special lists. 


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While legends snub Lionel Messi, Ronaldo Nazario honors La Pulga in his Top 8 

Years ago, in an interview with the Guardian, Ronaldo Nazario unveiled his list of the 8 greatest players. He mentioned names like Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer, Pele, Marco Van Basten, and Ronaldinho, while boldly including himself as the 8th. Amid 2023’s Ballon d’Or winner chaos, R9 broke the silence and supported the Argentine. He said, “The Ballon d’Or should go to him [Lionel Messi], without a doubt. What Messi did in the World Cup was special. It reminded me of the campaigns of Pelé and Maradona”.

READ MORE: Saudi Brand Enlists ‘GOAT’ Lionel Messi as Brand Ambassador After Cristiano Ronaldo Fell Short on Promise


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Interestingly, there have been many more instances where R9 has expressed admiration for Messi. Previously, when posed with the ‘Messi or Ronaldo?’ question, the two-time World Champion promptly responded, “Messi,” without hesitation. Nevertheless, the Argentine getting the cold shoulder from the aforementioned players will certainly stir a debate among fans. 

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments. 

Written by

Abhishek Mishra


One take at a time

Abhishek Mishra is a senior Soccer Writer at EssentiallySports. His early exposure to playing soccer earned him many accolades at college divisions, making him a sports enthusiast. While closely following daily updates for over a decade, Abhishek is well-versed in European soccer and now the MLS, as well.
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Edited by

Daniel D'Cruz