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Thursday, November 27, 1997 Published at 15:04 GMT


They think it's all over ...
image: [ Pele, from football superstar to Brazilian sports minister ]
Pele, from football superstar to Brazilian sports minister

For some, it will settle an argument ... for others, it will merely add fuel to the fire.

A new poll has named the Brazilian legend, Pele, as the greatest ever footballer.

Around half a million people in 110 countries voted for the top five players.

The next 20 places were decided by sports journalists and the legendary footballers themselves.

The top five are:

  • Pele,
  • George Best,
  • Bobby Charlton,
  • Johan Cruyff,
  • Bobby Moore.

Pele said "To be chosen in a public vote, by more than half a million people from around the globe, as the number one player of all time is wonderful."

George Best was also deeply flattered to have been chosen.

"I am thrilled to have been chosen by the public for a place in the International Football hall of fame - especially considering the company I'm keeping in the top five and the fact that I never actually played in a World Cup. It's a big compliment."

British, World's best soccer players?

Perhaps surprisingly, players from the UK make up the bulk of the list. There are 10 UK players, compared to only five Brazilians, two Dutchmen, two Germans, and one each from Hungary, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Russia.

[ image: Gordon Banks, the fans' favourite goalkeeper]
Gordon Banks, the fans' favourite goalkeeper
Another surprise is that three goalkeepers, normally soccer's cinderellas, make the top 25. But apart from Gordon Banks, Dino Zoff and Lev Yashin, football's rearguard are poorly represented, with Bobby Moore and Billy Wright the only defenders chosen.

Any manager anywhere in the world would drool over an attacking squad comprising Pele, Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, John Charles, Kenny Dalglish, Eusebio, Gerd Muller and Alfredo Di Stefano.

[ image: Even Pele might struggle to get into this forward line]
Even Pele might struggle to get into this forward line
They would be likely to score freely with crosses coming from Best, Duncan Edwards, Jairzinho, Garrincha and Stanley Matthews.

And a midfield chosen from Bobby Charlton, Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini, Zico, Roberto Rivelino and Ferenc Puskas would please fans anywhere at any time.

The criteria for the poll were that players had to have represented their country and been retired for 3 years, but with an eye on the future the organisers have selected five players who will hold the title of "Future Hall of Famer" for a year.

They are:

  • Diego Maradona,
  • Alan Shearer,
  • Ronaldo,
  • George Weah,
  • David Beckham.

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Internet Links

International Football Hall of Fame.

The Pele picture gallery

A fan's George Best page

A Bobby Moore tribute

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