Harry Redknapp: I was fascinated by Lionel Messi…but winning the World Cup will NOT decide football’s GOAT race

I PLAYED against Pele. I marveled at Maradona. I was fascinated by Messi.

If the little one becomes world champion on Sunday, he will crown a great career.

Lionel Messi has the world in his hands but still fails to clinch the title of best player of all time by helping Argentina beat France

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Lionel Messi has the world in his hands but still fails to clinch the title of best player of all time by helping Argentina beat FrancePhoto credit: Getty
Messi's now-rival Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, is destined never to win the World Cup after Portugal's quarter-final defeat by Morocco

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Messi’s now-rival Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, is destined never to win the World Cup after Portugal’s quarter-final defeat by MoroccoPhoto credit: Getty

But it won’t stop discussions about whether he’s better than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Not to mention where he stands in the never-ending debate.

I find it difficult and I have more experience than most of the greats and what they meant in game.

I’ve always been a huge Pele fan. Look at the number of goals he scored, including two in the World Cup final when he was 17, the first of three he won with Brazil.

At West Ham we ran into his Santos team a couple of times, then I played in America when he was at New York Cosmos.

He had everything. He was so strong, just like everything else.

All those things modern gamers do all over TV or social media — Pele probably did them first.

Maradona was amazing. Turning a team, Napoli, upside down and winning two Serie A titles was an amazing feat. Then, of course, he led Argentina to the World Cup title in Mexico 1986.

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One must also remember that Pelé was kicked from pillar to pillar. The teams would go out and try to absolutely finish him off. He was fouled at the 1966 World Cup.

It was pretty much the same with Maradona. There’s that statistic when Argentina played Italy at the 1982 World Cup and Claudio Gentile is said to have fouled him 23 times. And he only got a yellow card.

People still invaded Ronaldo and Messi but not in the way those two were attacked and injured in their time.

That’s a big reason why it’s difficult and unfair to make comparisons over the years.

Other candidates?

I was playing in the England youth team at the same time as Johan Cruyff was coming through in Holland, so we all knew him from a young age.

All those things modern gamers do all over TV or social media — Pele probably did them first.

Harry Redknapp

He was a fantastic talent, the best player on this Total Football team. But what’s also amazing about him is what he did after playing. Even as a coach, he changed the game so much.

George Best was a rival and friend. He was also a genius. He’s never had a chance to show it at a World Cup, which goes against him in these kinds of talks.

And he’s had a short career at the highest level compared to Pele, Maradona, Messi and Ronaldo.

I have to say there is no one who jumps at me at this World Cup and says they will take over Messi and Ronaldo when they retire.

People are talking about Kylian Mbappe. He has great skills, there’s no doubt about that. But he’s too out of the game. Sometimes you don’t see him for ten or 15 minutes.

Brazilian legend Pele celebrates winning the 1970 World Cup after also winning the top prize in 1958 and 1962

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Brazilian legend Pele celebrates winning the 1970 World Cup after also winning the top prize in 1958 and 1962Photo credit: Getty
The late George Best is arguably the most iconic name in Man Utd history

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The late George Best is arguably the most iconic name in Man Utd historyCredit: PA:Press Association

He played in a flash against England, but not so well that you say ‘oh my god’.

Kyle Walker did a good job on him, but it would have been harder to do the same on the others.

You couldn’t tag Messi out of the game. He would always be there. Maradona, Pele the same. Messi, when he picks up the ball and runs with it, it’s like it’s tied to his shoelaces.

It’s incredible. His passes and double wins – I love and have over the years watching Spanish football on TV when he was playing for Barcelona.

Messi had an amazing World Cup. Everyone thought he was done. After losing their opening game to Saudi Arabia, everyone thought Argentina was finished.

I’m glad they proved people wrong.

Partly because the football romantic in me likes the idea of ​​Messi going out in style.

But I also have to admit that before the tournament I had a little bet – Argentina will win and Messi will be top scorer.

Both look pretty strong so I’m definitely interested in today’s final.

Just don’t ask me to bet money on who is the best player of all time – this race will never end.

WE CAN COME PHIL IT

THIS World Cup was a huge missed opportunity for England. But it will come again!

Because we have a fantastic group of young players. I think we had the best team of the tournament.

Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham, these are kids who still have two, three or four tournaments ahead of them.

Surely we will find a way to win a tournament. We can’t always be unlucky.

I still think we can be a little bolder in our choices.

We played well against France so it’s hard to criticize.

But finding room for a No. 10, whether it’s Foden or whoever, would be great. We’re still a bit negative.

Gareth has to look at it and think, ‘Wait a minute, I have a real chance here’.

If it was an aging squad, ‘I’m not going to do anything with this bunch, there’s only one way out of here and it’s down’, then…

But it is not. He has a real chance of winning something. The euros are in 18 months.

I would be surprised if he continued. People ask who might take over if he leaves. But remember, Gareth didn’t come into the job with an amazing record as a club manager.

If he stays, great. If he doesn’t, whoever gets the job has a great chance of succeeding.

CHAMP DESCHAMPS

Only one manager has won two World Cups – and that was before I was born.

Didier Deschamps is already part of that very small group of those who have been world champions both as a player and as a coach.

Sharon was hospitalized after falling ill while filming a ghost show on the
I ate Buddy the Elf's breakfast pasta - people say it's sick, but I don't care

Now he could join an even more exclusive club with Vittorio Pozzo, Italy boss in 1934 and ’38.

If you look at the players that France are missing, it’s a great achievement. Not bad for someone Eric Cantona once dismissed as a “water carrier.”

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6939803/messi-world-cup-harry-redknapp-goat-argentina/ Harry Redknapp: I was fascinated by Lionel Messi…but winning the World Cup will NOT decide football’s GOAT race

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