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Pope Francis has weighed in on the GOAT debate, but the Argentine has controversially not named compatriots Lionel Messi or Diego Maradona as his No.1.

Fans across the footballing world have never been able to agree on who they think is the greatest player to have ever graced the sport.


Pope Francis met Messi towards the beginning of his papacy in 2013Credit: Getty
Many players have strong cases to take top spot and two of them are well established legends in Argentina given their immense quality.

Maradona is one of football’s most iconic and skilful stars, with Messi recently winning the eighth Ballon d’Or of his illustrious career.

However, neither of them have been named as the GOAT by Pope Francis, although he did still name a fellow South American.

When speaking to Italian TV show TG1, he was asked to pick between Messi or Maradona as the greatest player ever.

However, he wanted to add another name to the equation, with Brazil legend and three-time World Cup winner Pele his first choice.

“They are the three I have followed. All three are great, each with his own speciality. At the moment Messi is very good,” he said.

On Maradona, he remarked: “Maradona as a man failed, poor thing, he slipped, the people around him didn’t help him.

“He came to see me the first year [I was pontiff]. [His life] ended badly. It’s funny, many sportsmen end badly, even in boxing. It’s curious.”

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“Messi is very correct, he is a gentleman,” Pope Francis added. “Among these three, the greatest gentleman is Pele.


Pope Francis met with 1986 World Cup winner Maradona a handful of timesCredit: AFP


When asked to pick between Messi and Maradona, he opted to add Pele into the debateCredit: Getty
“He is a man with a very big heart. I spoke to him, I met him on a plane in Buenos Aires, and he is a man of great humanity.

“But all three of them are great.”

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There is no doubt that all three have more than enough success to their names be named as the GOAT by many worldwide.

However, it seems as though the late, great Pele takes the pick for Pope Francis despite the quality of Argentina’s World Cup-winning captains.

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