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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Your greatest World Cup players
Maradona and Pele are most people's choice as the greatest
The World Cup has been the stage for many outstanding players.

But who was the greatest of them all?


BBC Sport's Alan Hansen has seen plenty of great players at close quarters.

He was part of a Liverpool team that included stars such as Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness and played for Scotland at the 1982 World Cup.

We asked Alan to pick his World Cup top six from the last 40 years, insisting that no country could be represented by more than one player.

He chose:
Pele (Brazil)
Diego Maradona (Argentina)
Bobby Moore (England)
Johann Cruyff (Holland)
Franz Beckenbaeur (West Germany)
Zinedine Zidane (France)

This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appear below.


Pele is the greatest player of all time. He scored over 1000 goals, is a good man and a fine example to youngsters.
Alexandre B. Pereira, Brazil

Pele had the advantage of great national teams backing him, whereas Maradona won the World Cup 'single handedly'. Also, Pele played most of his club football in Brazil and was not tested like Maradona who won cups with Barcelona and Napoli's first Scudetto playing against the likes of Van Basten, Gullit, Platini, Baresi etc. Pele was great but Maradona played with other greats and showed he was the greatest.
Roberto Paternostro, Italy/UK

Pele scored more than 1,250 goals in his career (twelve in World Cups), won three World Cups and introduced soccer in the USA - and Maradona? My great six in all time in order: Pelé, Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Garrincha, Puskas and Obdulio Varela.
Luciano Scherer, Brazil

Open Quote
Pele is the greatest player of all time
Close Quote
Edmundo Nejm, Brazil

The six of the best: 1. Pelé (Brazil) 2. Platini (France) 3. Franz Beckenbaur (Germany) 4. Diego Maradona (Argentina) 5. Bobby Moore (England) 6. Zico (Brazil).
Itamar Velo, EUA

Not only is Pele the greatest player of all time, he is an example for younger generations of what true sportsmanship really is.
Edmundo Nejm, Brazil

My top six (in order) would be: Pele (Brazil), Garrincha (Brazil), Bobby Moore (England), Diego Maradona (Argentina), Franz Beckenbaeur (West Germany) and Rivelino (Brazil).
Marcos Ap. Berti, Brazil

What about Carlton Palmer?
Sam, UK

Open Quote
Nowadays, one can see Pelé's talents in young Michael Owen
Close Quote
Rodrigues, France
Pele was far the greatest football player of the world and also in his World Cup participation: he took part in four World Cups, was champion in three of them and he scored wonderful and decisive goals (against Wales in 1958, Sweden in 1958, Italy in 1970.)
Marcos Antonio De Marchi, Switzerland

Rivelino was, not only the best offensive half, but the greatest player that I ever saw in the world.
Fernando Braz, Brasil

The greatest of all is still Pelé, the true king of football. As a kid, I would go to the matches of Santos with my father. Seeing Pelé playing was true magic. He belongs to the era in which football was an art!

Nowadays, one can see Pelé's talents in young Michael Owen. One day, he, too, will be the king!
Stella Maris Melo Rodrigues, France

Diego Armando Maradona is the best player I ever seen in my entire life. Since my childhood, he brought to Argentine and European football the shine that it lost after Holland '74 and '78, and Brazil '70.

His skill, authority and shot is better than Di Stefano, Pele, Cruyff, and Charlton.
Santiago Tersoni, Argentina

Maradona could have been the best player in the world had he focused on what truly matters, the passion for the game. Undoubtedly Pele is the best soccer player in the world.

Open Quote
Pretty good choice but surely Bobby Charlton must figure in the equation
Close Quote
Barry Hill, UK
It is not impossible, but anyone that tries to outdo him will have a lot work in front of him.
Val, Brazil

That's a stupid question. Everybody knows that Pele is the best soccer player in history.
Thiago Duailibe, Brazil

I have seen Pele playing, and even though he played in a different era as Maradona, his intelligence and skills were just too great to be compared with Maradona. Pele is the greatest World Cup player of all time.
Divino KIpungo, Angola

Pele was definitely the best! No comparison. Second Johann Cruyff, and third Bobby Moore.
Priscila Neus, Singapore

Pele won three World Cups. Maradona won one. Pele scored over 1000 goals. Maradona scored nearly half of that. The numbers speak for themselves. The greatest player of all times is Pele.
Eugenio Branco, Brazil

Open Quote
Zidane does not belong on that list
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Rabi, England
Pretty good choice but surely Bobby Charlton must figure in the equation. He was very instrumental against Germany in controlling the midfield and outplaying Beckenbauer in both 1966 and 1970.

Germany only gained control in 1970 when he was substituted, and what about Geoff Hurst, the only man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final?
Barry Hill, UK

Glad to see a few people have realized the contribution a good goalkeeper makes to a successful side, but Dino Zoff? Am I the only England fan who can remember Gordon Banks' incredible save to deny Pele in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico?

The man who thwarted Pele in such a manner surely deserves his place alongside the Brazilian legend.
Calvin Palmer, United States

1. Pele- Good as it gets 2. Diego Maradonna-True genius 3. Johann Cruyff-Total footballer 4. Dennis Bergkamp-Dutch Master 5. Franz Bekenbaeur-True leader 6. Michel Platini-French flair personified
Michael Voukolos, Australia

Zidane does not belong on that list. The other five were players that revolutionised the game, Pele, Maradona, Cruyff, Moore and Bckenbauer all helped evolve the game in their own way. You cannot say that one is better than the other due to different eras and positions.
Rabi, London, England

Open Quote
Anybody who says Maradona was better than Pele, clearly doesn't know anything about football
Close Quote
Fabiano, Brasil
Pele is the best, not only as a player, but also as a person.
Weber H, Brasil

Pelé is the greatest football player ever. Anybody who says Maradona was better than Pele, clearly doesn't know anything about football!
Fabiano, Brasil

Pelé was the best. He was a genius!
Antonio Carlos F. Mendonça, Brazil

Maradona, Cruyff, Romário, Beckenbauer, Zidane, Platini, Puskas and Garrincha are the best players of all time. However, Pelé is different. He was - and still is - the king of football!
Ricardo Costa, Brazil

I have seen Pele playing in front of my eyes! For those who have chosen Maradona, what you have seen from Maradona is nothing compared to Pele in the sixties.
Raed, Kuwait

Pele is without a doubt the king of football. Never in the sport's history has there been a player so talented whose career was so full of victories and cups. His 1200+ goals speak for themselves. Add to that 3 World Cups, many Libertadores and national cups and you can only begin to understand how big Pele was. I can only wonder how much a player of this talent would be worth today.
Mauricio Villablanca, Chile

Open Quote
Johan Cruyff was a true legend
Close Quote
Liam, Netherlands
Johan Cruyff was a true legend - the one reason everybody chooses Maradona above him is the fact that Cruyff was surrounded by other fantastic players like Neeskens and Rep, while Maradona at times seemed to single-handedly drag his Argentina side along.
Liam, Netherlands

I agree that Pele was good, but he played in a different era and, without a doubt, Maradona was the greatest.
Waheed, England

Franz Beckenbauer has to be the best because he not only won the cup as a player-cum-skipper but also as a coach. Besides that, he made the role of libero immortal.
Lee, Singapore

Open Quote
Pele is the greatest athlete team sport has ever known
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Kenneth Barr, New York City, USA

Maradona was the greatest of them all. His skill was unmatched even by Pele. Pele depended on most of his fantastic team mates like Garrincha for an impossible pass to score his goals. Maradona used to create his own opportunities and also for his strikers to score.
Venugopal K S, India

Pele is not only the greatest footballer ever but also the greatest player in World Cup history. His influence was so vital that he was hacked out of the '66 Cup by vicious "tackling". His performance in '58 at the age of 17 was unheard of and his performance in '70 was the ultimate example of a superior player bringing his team mates up to his level of brilliance. Simply put, Pele is the greatest athlete team sport has ever known.
Kenneth Barr, New York City, USA

Sadly, the greatest player never got to win the World Cup. If finding time and space is the hallmark of a good player, then Michel Platini is the kind of player any manager would want on his side.
Mulindi H Mwanahamuntu, Zambian

Whose player's international career was interrupted for 9 years, before eventually captaining his country to the title in 1954? Who could only be stopped by a brutal foul in the '58 games in Sweden? Who did the national coach Herberger beg to travel to Chile in '62, despite the player being in his forties? The largely unknown and rarely mentioned Fritz Walter of Kaiserslautern. A one club man who was never lured away from his hometown by unheard-of sums of Italian and Spanish money during the 50's - one of football's last gentlemen.
Rudi, Uganda

Open Quote
Maradona was completely fantastic - there has been and there will not be anybody like him
Close Quote
Jonathan Irvine, Northern Ireland

Pele was undoubtedly the best footballer of all time. His pace, skill, technique and finesse was absolutly remarkable. How anyone can compare Maradona, Eusebio or even Zidane to Pele is unbelievable. I back Alan Hansen 100% - he knows and we all know that Pele was the best player in the world!
J. Singh, England (Brasil)

Maradona was completely fantastic - there has been and there will not be anybody like him. Brazil could win the World Cup without Pele. Argentina could not win the World Cup without the greatest footballer ever.
Jonathan Irvine, Northern Ireland

Undoubtedly, the former Cameroonian international Roger Milla is the greatest player ever. At Italia '90 he played for just a few minutes but made the greatest impact and became the oldest man ever to score in a World Cup.
Mohamed O Jalloh, Sierra Leone/USA

Without doubt, King Pele was definitely the greatest. Many people choosing Maradona, for example, never saw Pele
Izett Gordon, Jamaica

Pele and Maradona represented two distinct eras that cannot be compared against each other. Both were great with their unique skills and technique. I would also pick Roberto Baggio and Klinsmann as my second choices. I expect great performances from Batistuta and Figo during this World Cup.
Alok Bhupatkar, USA

Open Quote
Pele was, and will be forever, the king of football
Close Quote
Vinicius Carvalho, Brazil
Zinedine Zidane - he is as good a reason as any to say that football can be an art as well as a sport. The way he controls the ball is simply stunning. Having said that, there is no way you can doubt the skill of Maradona and Pele.
Richard Parkinson, England

Pele was, and will be forever, the king of football. Maradona is just a poor draft of him!
Vinicius Carvalho, Brazil

The brace by Zidane in the final of the '98 World Cup, convinces me that he, along with Maradona and Pele are the greatest players to ever grace a football field. They have all got World Cup winners medals and I think that speaks volumes for their achievements.
David Watterson, Northern-Ireland

Franz Beckenbauer. Pele scored goals, but he generally did not orchestrate them. Beckenbauer did both.
Willi Krause, USA

Maradona was a genius on the ball. Every fan wants to see a dribbler, someone who can take on and beat a defender. He could do this better than anyone, against the best defenders in the world. No "system" was secure against his skill.
David Etches, England

Open Quote
The greatest player to grace the world stage is undoubtedly Diego Armando Maradona
Close Quote
M Yates, England
I would go for Platini, instead of Zidane or Moore. Zidane may prove his worth amongst the legends during this World Cup.
Robert Singleton, Scotland

What about Roberto Baggio! He is one of the greatest players of all time.
Andy Tucker, England

What is wrong with Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari? How can you omit a world-class player such as Romario? He could be a possible Golden Boot winner and is already a World cup great. His skill will be sorely missed on this World Cup.
Chetan Soni, England

The greatest player to grace the world stage is undoubtedly Diego Armando Maradona. "A cheat with quick feet", he single-handedly won Argentina the World Cup in '86. He would be joined by Bobby Charlton, Michel Platini, Pele, Ferenc Puskas and Johann Cruyff.
M Yates, England

Is everyone over 50 or something? No one under forty really knows how good the Peles, Cruyffs and Pushkas of history were because we never saw them play. All we have are snippets of television footage showing a great moment, and the opinions of pundits to go on. I have no doubt that they were superb, but am not in position to comment on their abilities, only their reputations.

Open Quote
I would like to give honourable mention to Roberto Baggio
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Chris, UK

Of the players I have actually seen play: Maradona (because he won it on his own), Van Basten (because he scored so many against the best), Laudrup M. (made Denmark cool!), Matthaus (because he played at the top for so long) and, yes, Zinedine Zidane (partly because he has the best name ever to grace a top draw player, but mostly because whether he plays under the pressure of being an Algerian in France, or the costliest player in the world, he always seems to perform to the highest level).
David, England

Diego Maradona - NO QUESTION.
Arundeep, England

I would put Maradona above Pele because as great as Pele was, he also played in great teams such as the 1970 team. How many other Argentinian players apart from Maradona can you remember from the 86 winning team?

I would also like to give honourable mention to Roberto Baggio, who has graced the last 3 World Cups. He was the best young player in Italia 90 (ahead of Paul Gascoigne) and along with Romario, one of the best players in USA 94.
Chris, UK

Open Quote
Pele is the greatest of them all - no doubt about that
Close Quote
Errol

All six are reasonable...Pele and Maradona are clearly the two players who have most influenced the trophy's eventual destination. However, in terms of the last few tournaments, Baggio has made a greater impression than any other player, including Zidane. He almost did for Italy in '94 what Maradona did in '86 for Argentina, and was the inspiration behind the third place in '90.

In a cruel twist of fate it was his penalty miss that lost the final in '94. Perhaps this is how true greatness is judged, however, surely his achievements are greater than two headed goals against a Brazil team who were already beaten before a ball was kicked.
Mark, UK

Hansen's list is predictable, if not a bit conservative. Pele is the greatest of them all - no doubt about that, even though too many people mistakenly assume that he was at his greatest in 1970, rather than between 1959 and 1964, when he played the kind of football never seen before or since.

Don't talk about Maradona winning the World Cup on his own: ask yourself if Maradona would have stood out in the exalted company Pele kept. This was a man who at seventeen was the equal of his outstanding peers. Which brings me to another Brazilian: what about Garrincha? He was a genius, he greatest dribbler of the ball ever and the outstanding star of 1962. Doesn't he rate a mention?
Errol

Maybe you could consider Michel Platini of France as all time number one?
Swing, Japan

Open Quote
Pele was the jewel of a great Brazilian team
Close Quote
Alston Benjamin, Trinidad and Tobago

Just on pure skills and not on the reputation, it has to be Maradona. While Pele and Maradona both are unarguably the greatest players of all time, what differentiates them is the style of play.

While Pele was more into passing the ball and collecting it while moving forward and again passing it and collecting it, Maradona was a sheer genius in dribbling the ball, not to mention he helped create the three goals in the finals of 1986. He is a flawed genius, who has a dented reputation, unfortunately for his actions off the field. On the field, he is PURE MAGIC.
Anoop Saxena, India

Nice choices, Alan. Beckenbauer would get the nod, not because he was more talented but because of his versatility. He was great at attacking or defending when Germany needed it he was the total footballer, which Cruyff strived to do with his whole team.

Pele was the jewel of a great Brazilian team, he was better at attacking than anyone since and before. Maradona was supported by his coach who selected players to complement his skill and no one should rate him higher or lesser because of his supporting cast.

Moore was a strong leader but maybe Charlton was more of an influence in England winning. Cruyff was good, but not as great as the others. Zidane, maybe, Stoichkov could edge ahead of him in terms of overall influence on his team's World Cup performance, since Zidane missed several games and it was other team members that ensured that he reached the final.
Alston Benjamin, Trinidad and Tobago

Open Quote
What is Zidane doing on the list?
Close Quote
O Okokotako, Canada

Zidane should definitely be in the list of the greats. He is one of the best players ever. Pele and Maradona: yes, also marvellous players. I agree totally with Hansen's view, and just because a player like Zidane has only played in one World Cup, doesn't mean that he is not a great. He possesses so much skill and has the ability to just turn the game around.
Rob, England

What is Zidane doing on the list? He's a great player in an era of less quality players. Zidane's quality is in the neighbourhood of Gullit's, but no where near the qualities of Maradona, Cruyff and Pele. End of story.
O Okokotako, Canada

Six of the best would have to be... Lev Yashin (Soviet Union), Paul McGrath (Republic of Ireland), Paul Gascoigne (England), Dragan Stojkovic (Yugoslavia), Roberto Baggio (Italy) and Davor Suker (Croatia).
David Remmer, England

Hanson's choices are reasonably accurate apart from Bobby Moore, who, in spite of what any England fan might argue, cannot be regarded as a World Cup great. It must be remembered that all of these top players were surrounded by superstars, would they have been influential on their own...think of George Best and Roy Keane, who can both be regarded as world class and did so in average teams.

My one biggest regret as that Best didn't make it to the World Cup, where his mesmeric skills were far beyond anything that was produced by Pele or Maradonna. Pele didn't call him his number one for nothing!!
AK, England

Open Quote
Dino Zoff - the rock on which many a great team faltered
Close Quote
Ger, Ireland

Pele, without question. More than his great goals and the skills with which he scored them, it was his poise and confidence on the ball that marked him out as the greatest footballer ever.
Tom Odemwingie, Nigeria

Include the great Mohammed Aktar Ahmed Hamed. I think that was his name. He scored for Saudi Arabia in 1994 by running the length of the pitch, beating six Belgian players.
Judge, Afganistian

The six best are: Diego Maradona - virtually won the 86 World Cup on his own. Pele - quite simply the best ever. Johan Cryuff - a genius among a team of total footballers. Franz Beckenbaeur - "der Kaiser". Comfortable going forward as well as back. Dino Zoff - the rock on which many a great team faltered. Best keeper ever?
Ger, Ireland

You failed to consider the great Roberto Baggio on your list. This gorgeous human being led Italy to World Cup final on his own in a similar manner to Diego Maradona. How could you forget this (the divine pony-tail).
Manpreet Purewal, England

Without doubt the best player ever to play football was Pele, closely followed by a certain Georgie Best. What a shame he never played in a World Cup. Maradona was certainly a great but he didn't have everything. Pele had a great shot, he could head the ball and he also had great pace. Also, my memories of Maradona are spoilt by his unsporting behaviour in Italia 90.
Alan Grainger, Eire

Open Quote
Anyone who takes out Moore obviously never saw him play
Close Quote
Chris Coates, Australia

If we are talking about greatest players, we always we forget a very important name and that name is Carlos Valderrama.
Rashid, Colombia

All of them are brilliant. I would choose Puskas over Zidane due to his great influence on the game during his time as a player and coach. Maradona shades it from Pele as the best ever. Anyone who takes out Moore obviously never saw him play. An outstanding captain, his timing in the tackle still the best I've seen.
Chris Coates, Australia

Pele is the greatest player but he could not have won Cups if it were not for many legends on his teams. Diego Maradona single-handedly made the team final winners. And he is only one legend from the 1986 Argentina squad. So I would say Maradona is the greatest World Cup player.
Diego Acosta, USA

The choices are a piece of cake: A1: Pele - "the BEST". B2: Maradona - "the best" (capital letters reserved for Pele). B3: Cruyff - "total football". As for the rest, I go for impact, number of World Cups and importance to the team. B4: Baggio - "no Baggio = no Italy in 90s". B5: Matthaus - "the Iron Leader". B6: Lato - "the Polish Dynamite".
Rafal Rutkowski, Melbourne, currently in Bremen

Without doubt it has to be Diego Maradona. He dominated both South American football and Italian football - something Pele did not achieve.
John Cunningham, England

Open Quote
What about Roberto Baggio?
Close Quote
Paul Rice, Ireland

The greatest player this century would have to be Maradona, who was the talent, the skill and the spirit of Argentina.
Roberto, Canada

Without doubt, Pele remains the best ever to kick a ball. His skills were unmatched, and the standard he set is still not attained by any of his rivals.
Dennis, USA

Hansen's choice is pretty accurate. The two greatest players that the world has ever seen are, without doubt, Pele and Diego Armando Maradona. I believe that they are inseparable; they both had everything: skill, pace, control, vision and the belief that they could score from anywhere.

Also, they both won the World Cup for their respective nations through their own individual brilliance.
Kevin Wilson, United Kingdom

I agree with Alan that they are some of the greatest players, but you have to take into account the players that they had round them. All (except Maradona) were playing in teams that were Fortunate to have such strength throughout.

Open Quote
Zidane will have to excel in one more World Cup to be called one of the greats
Close Quote
William Johnson, England
My top six would be: Maradona (Argentina), Dahlin (Sweden), Zoff (Italy), Beckenbauer (Germany), Platini (France) and McGrath (Ireland). No Bias!
Niall Dillon, Rep of Ireland

Alan Hansen is nearly correct, but I would argue that Zidane will have to excel in one more World Cup to be called one of the greats. I would nominate Pele is the greatest, having been on the world stage for four World Cups. The others would be: Maradona, Sir Bobby Charlton, Eusebio, Beckenbauer and Puskas.
William Johnson, England

Hansen's decision was pretty much spot on. If the criteria for his choice were players who have driven their team to World Cup victory, then Pele, Moore, Maradona & Beckenbauer should definitely be there.

I think it is too soon to put Zidane or any other current player up there - although watching him play is like poetry in motion. When France win the World Cup this year, Zidane can truly be hailed as one of the greatest.
Mat, UK

What about Roberto Baggio? He had such an aura about him, and whenever greatness was required, he delivered (apart from that penalty!).
Paul Rice, Ireland

Open Quote
Johann Cruyff was the best player the World stage has ever seen
Close Quote
Rob, UK

Maradona is quite simply the greatest player ever to play the game. Without him, Argentina would not have even got through the first round in 1986, and especially 1990. There has never been a more influential player in the history of the game.
Rob, UK

It has to be Maradona - he has achieved everything in football. He's won the World Cup in a team that was mediocre without him, and similarly Napoli were nothing without him.

He single-handedly took them to two Scudettos and a Uefa cup win. No bones about it, he was the outstanding talent of the last century.
Eggy Gilbert, Scotland

Johann Cruyff was the best player the World stage has ever seen. He had jaw-dropping skill, and his belief in total football was compounded in the effect he had as a manager. He is the greatest player never to have won the World Cup, Which is a travesty when you consider that even Frank Leboeuf has a winner's medal.
Rob, UK

Open Quote
No list would be complete without Gordon Banks nd Dino Zoff of Italy
Close Quote
Mark Arnold, UK

I've watched the World Cup since 1962, and in my opinion Pele was the greatest all round player that ever played in the World Cup. He had everything - ball control, speed, shot, heading; and his passing was fantastic.
Ronald Lowe, Canada

What about a word for the goalies who have achieved greatness at World Cups? No list would be complete without Gordon Banks (remember that save against Pele?) and Dino Zoff of Italy.
Mark Arnold, UK

The six best players ever: Gunter Netzer, Bernd Schuster, Johann Cruyff, Ferenc Puskas and Diego Maradonna.
Dror Tankus, Israel

The best six players of the World Cup finals in my opinion are: Pele (Brazil), Lothar Matthaius (Germany), Bobby Moore (England), Diego Maradona (Argentina), Paulo Rossi (Italy) and Michel Platini (France). All of them had a massive impact on individual World Cups, which is the thing that makes the World Cup finals as special as they are.
Richard Ludlow, England

I agree with Alan Hansen on Pele, Maradona, Cruyff, Zidane and Beckenbaeur, but I do not agree with him on Moore. I would put in Dino Zoff in instead.
Neil Gray, Scotland

Open Quote
Maradona is the greatest player ever
Close Quote
Hassan, USA

I have seen all of them, and in my opinion Pele was the greatest all-round player in the world.
Charlie Richardson, England

Maradona is the greatest player of all time, simply because he won the 1986 World Cup single-handedly for Argentina and also because he has immense talent. Other players like Pele may have won the World Cup more than once, but there were other players in the team comparable in talent and skill with him. In 1986, Maradona was the only one with world-class talent. So he is the greatest.
Parikshith, India

My greats would be: Pele (Brazil), Maradona (Argentina), Eusebio (Portugal), Rossi (Italy), Cubillas (Peru) and Roger Milla (Cameroon).
Peter Siyamufinya, Zimbabwe

I would like to pick Franz Beckenbaeur as the greatest player of all time. All the six players chosen have their individual skill, which is a necessity in football game. However, talking about reading the game and implementing the right strategy at the right time is totally different.
A C Tan, Malaysia, South East Asia

There is no doubt that Maradona is the greatest player ever. People criticise him for his character flaws and the 'Hand of God' incident, but this is about skill and contribution to the game, no one had his skills or could contribute to a game as much as he could.

Open Quote
I find it quite astounding that Platini and Gerd Muller are not in this list
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Dave Spears, England

And this is coming from a die-hard Pele fan, but the truth has to be told. As for others on the list, I would make only one change, if any: maybe take out Moore and put in either Charlton or Di Stefano. But they were all greats playing the greatest game this world has ever seen.
Hassan, USA

Which player excelled as an attacker, a midfield player and as a defender? Which player dominated the tactics of his team and his opponents? Which player redefined the way football could be thought about and played?

Which player overcame disappointment as a losing finalist (and manager) to succeed as a World Cup winner in both capacities? The answer is, of course, Franz Beckenbauer - the template for a sportsman and the greatest footballer of the last century .
Keith, Canada

I find it quite astounding that Platini and Gerd Muller are not in this list. Zidane even being mentioned in such company is a joke.
Dave Spears, England

Open Quote
Eusebio is a better choice than Zidane since he has a better World Cup record
Close Quote
Swapnesh, India

Jimmy greaves for England, unlucky to miss out on final due to injury, and surely the best goalscorer we've ever had?
Sam Foskett, England

As is often the case, Alan Hansen has once again got his list about right. However Sir Booby Charlton and Sir Geoff Hurst would be in many lists for their fine contributions to England's success and who could forget the likes of Eusebio (Portugal), and at the very start of the 40 year period the great Hungarian Puskas?

Diego Maradona would not grace my list as his behaviour in the " Hand of God" incident mark him as a cheat and therefore not worthy of being included in any sporting heroes group. To do so would insult the sporting prowess and principles of the great gentlemen of the game which surely include Pele, Charlton, Hurst, Beckenbaeur and Zidane.
Stewart Rix, New Zealand

My greatest World Cup player is without doubt Pele, because he had everything: skills, fair play, etc. There will never be a bigger team then Brazil 70. There are a lot of players who have been named a second Pele, but in my opinion their never will be a second Pele.
Samindra Kunti, Belgium

Open Quote
It's got to be Maradona; he's in a class apart
Close Quote
David, UK

I think I will take exception to Bobby Moore. For me, Bobby Charlton from England is a better choice. Maybe Eusebio is a better choice than Zidane since he has a better World Cup record. But I will wait for Zidane to turn it on in this tournament and he will probably justify his selection in this elite list. Why is there no Italian player in the list? Riva and Baggio are definite contenders in this respect.
Swapnesh, India

Pele was the greatest of all-time. Maradona was Pele's equal in terms of ability but had too many flaws as a person both on and off the pitch to be rated higher than the Brazilian who is without a doubt the greatest sportsperson ever.
Andrew McIntyre, UK

I agree with Alan's first two of Pele and Maradona but you have missed one of the other legends of all time Michel Platini. I agree he did not win the World Cup but he guided France to the semis twice and they were very unlucky not to win. He also won European Player of the year three times, (only Van Basten and Cruyff have done that). So I think he should be on the list.
Rajesh , UK

It's got to be Maradona; he's in a class apart. All the others do things well, often very well on the pitch but Maradona did things no one else could do.
David, UK

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Ronaldo is the greatest of all time
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Daniel Bunce, England

Johann Cruyff (Holland) should be deleted and replaced with Roger Millar (Cameroon). Of all the players listed, only Cruyff did not lift the World Cup, just like Millar but Millar has greater skills and played more matches for his national side than Cruyff.
Ebou Jarju, Gambia

From your limited selection I would rate the players as follows: Pele, Moore, Beckenbauer, Zidane and Cruyff (always overrated in my opinion).

Maradona has no place on my list of best players as an out and out cheat! Even if millions have since also cheated, it doesn't make him a great player.
Trevor Pope, Canada (Ex-England)

Ronaldo is the greatest of all time, what he can do with a football at his feet is amazing.
Daniel Bunce, England

Maradona is comfortably the greatest player ever. This is no disrespect to the handful of other greats (Franz, Pele, Puskas, Di Stefano, Platini, Johann, Best). However Maradona's the greatest due to the single handed impact he had in 1986 - don't forget the Belgium game. Also, Maradona only really had Burrachaga and Valdano - the others raised the game as a result of his presence.
Phil Whelan, UK

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The top individual and team players has to be between Pele and Beckenbauer
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Kevin Hirst, Holland/UK

Is the inclusion of Moore just another pandering to the British obsession with 1966? I've always been dubious of the fact that the only two teams to win the cup only once (England and France) did it with home-turf advantage. That goes for Zidane too. Yes he's great, but let's see how history judges him, and if his team can perform away from home this time round.
steve, Ireland

What about Van Basten?
Skillman, UK

I was very lucky to be living in Holland during the Cruyff days when Ajax and Holland were the world's best for football entertainment, but the top individual and team players has to be between Pele and Beckenbauer with Moore and Zidane tying for third place.
Kevin Hirst, Holland/UK

My six of the best would have to be:

Diego Maradona (Argentina)
Rivelino (Brazil)
Michel Platini (France)
Gerd Muller (Germany)
Ferenc Puskas (Hungary)
Dino Zoff (Italy)
Craig Melvin, Scotland

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