SINGAPORE - To crown Lionel Messi the
greatest player of all time would be a little premature, says
1978 World Cup winner Ossie Ardiles, but the coronation is not
In the week the 22-year-old's four-goal haul against
Arsenal in the Champions League had everyone from team mates,
opponents and media searching for new superlatives, it was left
to his fellow Argentine to put Messi's achievements into
"Messi's so good that comparisons with other players
currently playing football are simply not valid," a sweating
Ardiles told Reuters after a coaching clinic on Singapore's
"So in that sense, it is right that people are comparing
him with the greats of the past, like (Diego) Maradona, Pele
and (Johan) Cruyff.
"He's still only 22 and you have to maintain this level for
many years to earn the right to be considered better than these
Of these three, Ardiles believes the most apt comparison,
at least in terms of technical ability, should be made between
Messi another diminutive Argentine, Maradona.
"There are a lot of similarities between them," the
57-year-old Ardiles smiled.
"Both are small, left-footed and have a low centre of
gravity. I think Messi is probably a touch quicker but I think
Diego was a touch more skilful."
For Ardiles, a one-time room mate of Maradona, the
comparisons end there - at least in terms of playing style.
"The big difference is their temperament," continued the
man who won the FA Cup with Tottenham Hotspur in 1981 and was
wearing the club's kit on Friday.
"Everything with Diego was a fight and he had so many
problems off the pitch. Despite this, he was still able to
cross the line and put these problems to one side and be the
leader, the inspiration for his team mates and his country.
"Messi, on the other hand, is much more focused on his game
and a much calmer man, obviously. He is very settled and is
well protected by his family.
"You'll never see him in a nightclub, so in many ways, he
is the perfect boy."
There was no suggestion from Ardiles that Messi might have
achieved too much too soon, despite already having three La
Liga titles to his name as well as the Ballon D'Or and FIFA
World Player of the Year.
The former Yokohama Marinos coach Ardiles does believe,
however, that disappointment and heartbreak can act as the spur
to drive a player on to great things.
"Diego missed out on the 1978 World Cup in Argentina after
being picked in the 25-man squad," recalled Ardiles.
"The coach had to let three players go and he was one of
them. I was his friend and I know how hard that hit him. It
hurt him, it really did. But I think it also made him fight
harder in future.
"I don't think Messi will become complacent because he has
a good family and support, but it will be interesting to see
because he has achieved a lot already.
"It's an awesome thought to imagine what he could achieve
in the future."
Follow FFT.com on Twitter
Join FFT.com on Facebook
England striker puts pen to paper on permanent deal
The new season is but six weeks away (in the Football League)
Toon upheaval continues in style
Spurs move for former England assistant manager
Who would you rather have playing for your club?
12 months out, the stars look to the World Cup
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Adidas Nitrocharge for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010