Sorting the greatest footballers of all time into tiers

Matt Stead

Send your thoughts on tier fun and any other accidentally topical ideas to


Maradona madness
I mean, what?! That e-mail can surely only be an absolute and utter piss take.

Argue whether he is the greatest of all time, sure, but argue that Thierry Henry was better? Come on! Henry is barely in the argument for his own generation! Madness.

For a player who exclusively played before youtube highleet reels were a thing, here’s a highlight reel of Maradona being an absolute, utter genius, focussing only on times he lobbed the keeper.

There are countless others available, and F365 kindly produced a little list themselves. If you genuinely don’t have any idea why Maradona is so revered, I’d suggest you start there.

If you’ve seen all this and still don’t know, maybe football isn’t the sport for you.
Alex, Ayr


Thankyou F365 for sharing the ‘Life is Life’ Diego Maradona warm up video. I was already having a totally shit year prior to Covid but as you might guess it has continued to go downhill since then. I’m a public sector worker within mental health and it’s obviously not been great knowing your puny service can’t meet the necessarily increased demand.

But for several moments today I was transported to a different and more magical world watching Diego Maradona enchant and bewitch a football in front of a stadium of fans before a big game.
David lfc (still locked down in Tier 3 but less down for now)


Whoa! Hold your horses kids, dads, grandpas. This futile argument about who’s the greatest of all time is well, pointless because modern football, as we know it, is at least 150 years old. And according to Wiki, right now it is being played by about 250 million players in over 200 countries.

Just try to imagine how many gazillion football players the world have seen. Yet, someone is making a case that out of a gazillion players in the history of modern football, over a period of 150 years, this so and so is the best-est of all that time!

That is absurd. It’s like asking me, who I think is the greatest musician of all time (Richard D. James by the way), or which band is the greatest rock band of all time (Radiohead). It’s foolish and all of you got to stop this.

So, rest in peace Diego Armando Maradona Franco, undeniably, absolutely, undoubtedly, who is unequivocally .. the greatest of all time.
Veni (LFC, Singapore)


Tier time
I genuinely cant stand when people like Ivor make such stupid arguments about why Messi and Ronaldo cant be considered the GOATs. Really? Just because the pitches are better today and the game is safer doesnt mean they cant be the best players of all time. In that case, nobody can ever be the best player of all time except Maradona or Pele because the pitches aren’t going to get any worse and the refereeing decisions aren’t going to get less lenient. What a stupid restriction you’re imposing. I guess we wont ever see a footballer as good as them two again because we have such good pitches. Maybe we should look to Sunday league football and look there.

Also, I’m not sure if Simon is trolling but that’s genuinely such a mad question. Maradona dragged Argentina to win the WC in probably the best ever performance by an individual at the tournament. He also won 2 league titles with a relegation level Napoli side, which is still their only two titles in their history. Serie A was also the best league in the world at the time so its quite a decent achievement.

The thing about Henry has me questioning where he and others even rank in all time greats. If I were to have a tier list I think it would go like this.

Tier 1: Messi, Maradona, Cristiano, Pele

Tier 2: Zidane, Platini, Beckenbauer, Ronaldo, Cryuff, Yashin,

Tier 3: Baresi, Ramos, Van Basten, Maldini, Matthaus, Xavi, Neuer, Rijkaard, Ronaldinho, Henry, Cafu, Iniesta, Pirlo, Carlos, Buffon, Figo

Tier 4: This is where I’d have the likes of Lampard, Gerrard, Vieira, Scholes, Keane, Terry, Ferdinand, Shearer, Villa, Suarez, Pique, Busquets, Alonso, Ballack, Kaka, Modric, etc.

Obviously missing a lot of people and probably some PL bias for tier 4 but this is just kinda off the top of my head.


Be honest
Hi everyone!

Late to the game, but RIP Diego Armando Maradona. All the best football is theatre, and that man is the definition of box office. Everything he did was interesting, and that’s disregarding what a wonderful, wonderful player he was.

Which brings me to my point. I have never watched a full 90 minute match that Maradona was involved in. I’ve probably spent (cumulatively) about 10 hours of my life watching YouTube videos of him. I’m in no position to discuss just how great he was, I can only say that, based on the footage I’ve seen of him, he was a wonderfully entertaining player, and that he was an absolute lunatic as a national team manager.

I would genuinely like to hear people disclose how much they’ve watched him play when making mad, overly definitive statements like “Thierry Henry was a better player than him” (so Simon C’s email would begin with “I’ve watched 4 YouTube compilations and my mind is made up. I already see the pundits and various articles…”). You get the idea. It’s okay to admit that you’ve not watched every game of football ever, and to say “Thierry Henry was my favourite player and I’m not going to change my mind”.

But my god, what a highlights reel his is!


The last word on the Hand of God

Inevitably, all the obituaries and tributes to Diego Maradona give emphasis on THAT goal against England during Mexico 86. It’s about time that someone pointed out:-

1. Maradona gets all the blame but England were equally culpable in giving him the chance. That sliced clearance from Steve Hodge was practically an assist for Diego.

2. It’s all Peter Shilton’s fault, he was far too slow off his line. He’s six foot one, Maradona is five foot five. Yet every picture I’ve ever seen of the incident shows Maradona clearly out-jumps Shilton, hand or no hand.

3. You’ve just put your country 1-0 in the Quarter Finals of the World Cup; How likely are YOU to turn around to the referee and say you knocked it in with your hand? Didn’t Gary Lineker appear on Wogan shortly after Mexico 86 and admit if he had scored that goal, he wouldn’t have owned up?

4. Was it really that clear a hand ball? I seem to have a vague recollection of Barry Davies on the BBC commentary saying the England players were protesting because it was offside?

5. What Maradona actually said afterwards was “That goal was a little bit the hand of Maradona, a little bit the hand of god.” In other words, yes I scored with my hand, but thank god the ref didn’t see it.

And as for Maradona’s second goal, from many angles it looked like it was a Terry Butcher own goal…

RIP Diego
Cathal “hero or villain, Maradona had guts. Every time he stepped onto the pitch he knew he was in for a kicking and still delivered” Chu


He could have been even better
I, like any other football loving fan, was sad to hear of the passing of the greatest player i have ever seen (and yes Simon C he was better than Henry, ffs do i have to even say that). The thing is, as brilliant as he was, he probably could have been better. His partying lifestyle in Naples must have affected his performances yet he was still amazing. He played in four world cups, which is a great achievement in itself but can you imagine how good a clean and sober Maradona could have been. If he had followed a lifestyle, say like Ronaldo, he probably would have managed a fifth WC.

I guess part of his allure was his transgressions and life outside of football and it is hard to imagine him staying home eating vegan meals and only drinking mineral water. Gone but will never be forgotten.
Ken, Cork, ireland


Poor Dele
Hi f365

I felt compelled to write in to defend dele alli

Picked tonight “ given a chance” to show he’s good enough for this spurs.

My mate is the perfect example of a typical spurs fan.

2 years ago dele was the best young midfielder in world football, I actually was so jealous.

58 goals in 154 league aged 24…he is attacking, intelligent, a good team player, a natural goal scorer and assister.

He was quite brilliant. A bad few months at the end due to injury under poch, then mourinho comes along. Calls him out, then destroys his confidence, but it’s okay to do that as spurs are now apparently amazing.

It’s total bullying, it’s what mourinho does best, take down the strong character in the dressing room and the rest will follow.

My mate is okay with this, because spurs are top. So sad when he was saying how good he was but now forgotten under the hype of the most defensive coach spurs have ever had.

Spurs fans have sold their soul for a chance of success that will never come to fruition.

Cannot wait for spurs bubble to burst. Cannot wait for them to see Jose with true colours.

Wait til Jose is  calling out another player who doesn’t run enough. Destroying another players confidence like pogba, or shaw.

Cannot wait for alli to sign for a team on loan in January and show spurs for idiotic they have been.  Spurs will win the league cup, I hope it feels good spurs fans.
Ade ( 20 is coming) Guildford 


Stupid red cards
Lewis, Busby Way
dropped a great question about stupid red cards, Arturo Vidal is certainly up there now after his for Inter Milan this week, so here are three picks from myself.

David Beckham vs Argentina 1998 World Cup – You know the story by now, David Beckham is on the floor, kicks out at Diego Simeone and gets a straight red, it is an iconic moment in not just England but World Cup history, the one thing I remember the most about this red card was Batistuta nodding his head as the red card is brought out.

John Terry vs Barcelona Champions League Semi Final 2012 – This was a true moment of madness against Barcelona back in 2012 where on 37 minutes with Chelsea 1-0 down, he decided to knee Alexis Sanchez in the back, costing himself a place in the XI for the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich, moments later Iniesta made it 2-0, thankfully for Chelsea we came back to draw 2-2 and Fernando Torres sealed our place in the final, overall still quite a silly red card, especially in such an important game.

Cesc Fabregas vs WBA 2015 – This one still makes me laugh, I love Cesc and always will, but in a game against WBA in the Premier League he boots the ball from the side of the pitch and strikes Chris Brunt perfectly on the side of the head, he was known for his incredible pass accuracy, this was another example of that, fair play to Chris Brunt for not going down clutching his face though.
Mikey, CFC 


KDB comparisons
The mailbox has recently provided some hilariously weak statistical arguments for why Kevin de Bruyne ain’t that good. But congratulations Lee for topping the lot with this: “His numbers don’t come close to Giggs, Gerrard or Lampard in terms of goals and assists.”

Do you think this might just be because they have all played a load more PL games than KDB? They have each clocked up more than three times the number of PL appearances that Kev has. Was Gabby Agbonlahor a better striker than Luis Suarez? He has more PL goals.

Obviously, you can account for this by looking at assists/goals per game. KDB has 69 assists in 162 games. That’s 0.43 per game. Giggs has 162 assists in 632 games (0.26 per game). Gerrard has 92 in 504 (0.18) and Lampard has 102 in 609 (0.17). Do the same for assists and goals combined and KDB has 0.65 per game, the others are 0.43, 0.42, and 0.46. I guess the numbers actually don’t come close.

However, you could say this analysis actually favours De Bruyne quite a bit as it only really captures his peak years whereas the others include those early/late career season numbers. So let’s cherry-pick literally the best seasons stats for each player (i.e. comparing peak to peak): De Bruyne’s best 3 years for goals + assists are 33, 24, and 24. Here are the figures for Giggs: 20, 19, 18. Gerrard: 26, 25, 19. And Lampard: 36, 31, 24.

Lampard just shades it, but KDB is definitely in the mix. We’re currently witnessing another PL great. Just enjoy it.
Bristol Blue (you could make a similar argument for Salah too) 


In reply to Mikey, CFC, I remember John Motson always used to pronounce Didier Drogba’s surname with an emphatic stress on the second syllable. Drog-BAH!!! Maybe this is correct. It was certainly bloody annoying.
Matt Pitt


In response to Mikey, CFC. I much prefer your Terry Hen-Ree to Glen Hoddles On-Ray. At least you were a school kid and your mispronunciation conjures up images of balding 80s midfielders playing for a team like Aston Villa. What’s Hoddles excuse?
Samwise, MUFC


In reply to Mikey, CFC, these aren’t necessarily the worst I’ve ever heard but they make me smile.

– David Pleat saying Benny Noon when referring to Yossi Benayoun.

– John Hartson calling Ilkay Gundogan  – Gun-Dugging.

– When people talk about Mourinho they call him Hose-A, except for Ray Parlour who calls him Joe-C