Messi, the ‘best’ in the last 10 years: Pele

| Updated on: Oct 12, 2015
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No intention to be FIFA President, says the football legend

Making it clear that he will not be running for the post of FIFA President, legendary footballer Pele today termed Argentine forward, Lionel Messi, as the “best” footballer “in last 10 years”.

He also spoke highly of Brazilian footballer Neymar and Portugese forward, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Speaking during a media meet organised by the Indian Super League football tournament’s Kolkata franchisee – Atletico de Kolkata, Pele said: “I do not intend to be FIFA President”.

He, however, did not take any questions on FIFA or the controversy engulfing the sports governing body.

On being asked about the best footballer, Pele said: “It's very difficult to make a comparison of players of different generations. But in last 10 years Messi was the best. We have Neymar who also has good future.”

Pele is here in India on a week-long sojourn and will cheer the Atletico de Kolkata team during their first home match in the second season of the ISL. The match is scheduled on Tuesday.

Highly competitive Agreeing that the sport has become highly competitive, the 74-year-old maintained that he would have been successful had he played in this generation too. According to him, it is “God’s gift” and will remain the same.

“No doubt football today is tougher than before; but when God gifts you to play football it's the same in any generation. Football is all about skill,” he said.

World Cup defeat The three-time World Cup winner, however blamed the team atmosphere for the country’s 1-7 defeat to Germany in World Cup 2014. According to him, the country has “not lost its passion” for football and it still has “some of the best players”.

“Individual players are important but we have to have a good team. You need to play together well as a team. That's the big problem. Individually, we have the best players but as a team we've a lot of problem,” Pele said. “In my time, the players used to belong to the clubs but today players are managed by their agents," he added.

Indian football According to the legend, the authorities must focus on the base - the grassroots – for improving the quality of Indian football. The authorities must ensure that the game spreads in the universities, schools and colleges that will help groom youngsters.

“You have to start working at the base. You have to give chance to players to go abroad and play from where they can gather experience. They can then come here and share their experiences. But firstly you have to support the base," Pele said.

He also lauded the ISL as a tournament that has the potential to lift the quality of the game here in the country.

“Oh yes! ISL can improve Indian football, no doubt about it,” the footballer added.  

Published on January 22, 2018

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