Pele: The strange and bizarre claims made by the three-time World Cup winner, including Neymar and Messi comments

27 Mar

Pele is widely regarded as one of the best footballers to have ever played the game – if not the best.

He is still the only man to have won three World Cups and still holds the record for youngest player to feature in a final aged just 17.

Pele won the World Cup three times

The 78-year-old’s goal tally is the greatest in history with more than 1200 to his name, if you believe the man himself.

His playing career was restricted to Brazil and America so his mystique and reputation always grew as not many had the chance to see him play compared to the modern day footballer.

Pele has been known in his latter years to make some outlandish and weird claims, though, that range from the bizarre to the ridiculous.

This week he issued one such claim on Twitter suggesting he had to leave an Elton John concert after being pointed out by the Watford honorary life president.

It’s one of many so here are some of the best of those claims.

Messi has ‘one skill’ and he was better

The three-time World Cup winner criticised Lionel Messi in October last year by saying he is one-footed and can’t be compared to him.

Messi is one of the greatest of all time

“How can you make a comparison between a guy who heads the ball well, shoots with the left, shoots with the right and another who only shoots with one leg, only has one skill and doesn’t head the ball well?” he told Folha de Sao Paulo.

Neymar is an ordinary footballer

Back in 2013, Pele was not a fan of Neymar and launched a scathing attack on the forward for under-performing.

“For the national team, he’s just an ordinary player,” Pele told O Estado de Sao Paulo.

Pele has been critical of Neymar in the past

“He’s got a huge responsibility and his greatest concern is to change his style, change his haircut.”

His opinions do seem to have changed over time and he claimed last year that Neymar was better than Messi and Ronaldo.

The crying goalkeeper

Blatter is the best man for Fifa

When Sepp Blatter was up for a fifth term as Fifa president in 2015, Pele gave him his backing.

His reasoning was that he was the candidate with the most experience despite crisis engulfing the organisation.

He said: “I was in favour. It was necessary because it is better to have people with experience. He’s a man who has been there for 25 years, you have to respect him, it was an election.”

The former Fifa president Sepp Blatter

Pele’s claimed goal tally

The 78-year-old claims to have scored 1283 goals during his career but Fifa only recognises 784 of them.

The other 526 came in unofficial friendlies and tour games.

In comparison, Messi has a total of 677 goals for club and country during his career.

The referee who sent himself off

His most famous goal – that there’s no footage of

The favourite goal of his career was one he scored in 1959 as an 18-year-old against Atletico Juventus but it was not captured on camera.

Instead, an animated version of the goal was recreated based upon his description.

Nicky Barmby to be a world star

Pele predicted that Barmby would be up there with Zidane, Maldini and Ronaldo when he was just 21-years-old.

He went on to make just 23 international appearances and never played at a World Cup.

Nii Lamptey prediction

Pele suggested Lamptey would be his “natural successor” after watching him play in 1989.

His career took on a nomadic existence and he played for 13 clubs during his career but only played around 169 games.

Nii Lamptey on loan at Aston Villa

His World Cup predictions

If Pele chooses you to do well at the World Cup, then it’s bad news.

He predicted Spain to win the 1998 competition but went out in the group stages.

For the 2002 World Cup, he said Argentina and France would reach the final but both were eliminated in the first round.

He also said Brazil would not get out of the group stages… but they won the whole tournament.

Pele also claimed that an African nation would win the World Cup before 2000, and we are still waiting for a team to reach the semi-final.

Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal have all reached the quarters but not got any further.

Valentine’s Day: the 10 most traumatic football break-ups including David Beckham, Sol Campbell and Paul Pogba

14 Feb

Valentine’s Day is here and while many associate this time with love, for others it is a time of loneliness and bitterness.

Football is an extremely passionate game, filled with emotions, just ask Paul Gascoigne how much he wanted to play in a World Cup Final for England.

Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho had a spectacular falling out this season

When it’s good, it’s great to be a supporter. Everything just clicks on the pitch and it’s clear to see the chemistry on display.

However, with player power taking full effect in modern football, it seems loyalty and devotion are two traits you would be hard-pressed to find at clubs these days.

For instance, West Ham United fans felt like they were in an East End soap opera when Dimitri Payet controversially swapped Stratford for the south of France and returned to Marseille in 2017.

And who could forget last summer when football was DEFINITELY coming home, until Mario Mandzukic broke English hearts everywhere with his extra time winner in the World Cup semi-final.

Mandzukic’s strike caused nationwide heartache in July 2018

So if you’re feeling alone and bitter on Valentine’s Day, cheer yourself by having a look at some of the most brutal and public break ups in the history of football.

SIR ALEX GIVES BECKS THE BOOT (2003)

Ferguson feared Beckham’s commercial interests were proving distracting

In Goldenballs’ final season at Old Trafford, flirtations with a move to sunny Spain had persisted throughout the year. Demanding Fergie was disappointed his formerly prodigious talent had transformed into a prima donna, with his application levels dropping.

The United boss took particular offence after one poor performance and kicked a boot in the dressing room towards the midfielder, striking him above the eye.

Rather than play down rumours of a rift, the England captain wore an Alice band in front of members of the paparazzi and the news was everywhere.

At this point, the father-son type relationship between the two was tarnished and Becks was shipped off to Real Madrid with Cristiano Ronaldo inheriting his position and his shirt number.

BARMBY THE BLUENOSE (2000)

Barmby celebrates scoring for Liverpool against Everton

Watching your ex leave you for your best mate is possibly the bitterest pill to swallow. Crossing Stanley Park to swap Blue for Red is actually a bit like that.

In 2000, Nick Barmby left critics up and down the country questioning if the England international was either brave or stupid. The former Tottenham star became the first player since 1959 to leave Everton for Liverpool when he joined the Reds for £6million.

To make matters worse for the Toffees, the midfielder notched his first goal for the club against his former employees.

The picture above shows just how happy Barmby was with himself.

THE NOT-SO SPECIAL ONE (2015)

Eden Hazard limps off against Leicester to Mourinho’s disbelief

No matter how lonely you feel this month, just remember to never go back to a toxic relationship – just ask Mourinho.

The Special One promised he was more mature, more level-headed when he arrived back at the Bridge.

However, despite securing a Premier League title, the Portuguese left Chelsea on very bad terms.

In the picture above, you can see his disbelief as Hazard limps off and refuses to play against Leicester in what was the final straw for Roman Abramovich. Mourinho was sacked shortly after, and you can almost see the exact moment his heart breaks.

FICKLE FIGO (2000)

Figo tries to take a corner at the Nou Camp, but is pelted by objects

It must have been the in-thing at the turn of the Millennium to really irritate your current club by signing for their rivals.

We’ve saved this one for later purely for the sheer vitriol which was aimed at the Portugal international. Figo was one of the best in the world at this point, but shocked the world by signing for Barca’s bitter rivals Real in a world-record £37million move.

Upon his return to the Camp Nou, Figo experienced banners, burning effigies, and was even hit with a stray pig head while attempting to take a corner.

WELCOME TO MANCHESTER (2009)

Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring against his former employers

What is it with footballers leaving for rival clubs, have they no heart?

Carlos Tevez arrived in England somewhat controversially in 2006 with West Ham.

His undoubted talent earned him a move to Premier League champions Manchester United at the end of the season, yet controversy remained. Issues about ownership persisted and Tevez only signed on a loan deal for the Red Devils.

City, in an attempt to establish themselves and annoy United in equal measure, signed Tevez permanently in 2009 and put THAT advertising board up in Manchester city centre.

LEICESTER CITY BREAK RECORDS, THEN HEARTS (2016)

A Leicester City fans thanks the Italian for his services

Former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri rocked up at the King Power Stadium and failed to allay any fears the Foxes could beat the drop, having only just survived the previous season.

To win the Premier League title was not even a vague possibility, but against all odds Ranieri did it. The 5,000-1 dream was achieved and Ranieri was a hero.

Fast-forward six months and the Italian had been sacked after rumours the players did not want to play for him and the dream was over. A sorry end to one of football’s greatest fairytales.

We’re not crying, you are.

RIO THE RED (2002)

Ferdinand’s move from Yorkshire to Lancashire went as well as you could imagine

Rio Ferdinand was the golden boy of English football after breaking onto the scene as a youngster with West Ham. He made a big money move to Leeds United in 2000 to become the most expensive Englishman ever.

However, when he broke the record again the move was met with much more controversy. Moving from Yorkshire to Lancashire was always likely to incite hatred, especially given the success of Eric Cantona wearing red as opposed to white.

When Ferdinand returned to Elland Road, the supporters who so passionately adored their former boy wonder turned on the England international with furious anger. He never let it bother him however, and did fairly well at Old Trafford in the end.

MOUR MONEY, MOUR PROBLEMS (2018)

Mourinho and Pogba had a spectacular falling out

When Paul Pogba returned to Manchester United to play under Jose Mourinho in 2016, the entire footballing world sat up and took notice. After speaking to team-mates about Mourinho, the France international was sold saying: “He gave me energy, he gave me positivity. They all told me he’s the coach for me – he will make me improve a lot and make me work harder.”

But a series of public and private spats saw the relationship deteriorate and, as Mourinho’s fateful spell as United boss came to an end, the Portuguese delivered his final withering verdict on the man he spent £89million on.

“You don’t play,” Mourinho is alleged to have told Pogba. “You don’t respect players and supporters. And you kill the mentality of the good honest people around you. You are like a person with a flu, with a virus in a closed room – you pass that virus to the others.”

DIE-GO COSTA LEAVES CHELSEA (2018)

Costa was told he was surplus to requirements via text message

Costa arrived at Chelsea and was an instant success. His snarling, bullying style of play may have earned him few admirers; but he endeared himself to Blues fans straight away.

After winning the Premier League in his first season, Costa dipped off in his second season. However, a return to form in 2017 saw the title head back to west London.

But all was not well as Costa angrily demanded an Atletico Madrid homecoming.

Costa has had a mixed time under former boss Diego Simeone once again, while Chelsea fans are still searching for Alvaro Morata’s receipt.

SOL SELLS HIS SOUL (2001)

Spurs fans tell Sol Campbell what they really think of him

A home-grown hero for Tottenham, the dominating centre-half was adored at White Hart Lane, a shining light in hard times.

His imperious defensive displays saw many of Europe’s finest fluttering their eyelids towards him but he insisted he would remain and sign on the dotted line. But he didn’t.

And while AC Milan and Manchester United (among many others) courted him, it was Spurs’ fierce rivals Arsenal where he moved to on a free transfer. It was a betrayal of the worst kind and will never be forgotten in north London.

Most shocking transfers, including Celtic hero Mo Johnston joining Rangers and Sol Campbell going from Tottenham to Arsenal

1 Jan

How do you annoy an entire set of football fans?

Well, asking any one of this lot is a good start. Each one of these players made the unpopular decision to leave either in controversial circumstances or to play for a hated rival.

We’re assuming printing those ‘Judas’ signs on pieces of paper was worth the money to those Tottenham fans angry at Sol Campbell moving to better his career

Below are 11 deals that have seen plenty of anger spill out from the stands at various football grounds, including Glasgow, London as well as Florence over the years and here, talkSPORT.com ranks them by the despair caused by their transfers, kicking off with Alan Smith leaving Leeds United for Manchester United.

11. Alan Smith moves from Leeds to Man United
11. Alan Smith moves from Leeds to Man United – The boyhood Leeds fan once claimed he would never join Man United and was in tears when his beloved Whites were relegated in 2004. Still, following the drop the club were forced to accept a £7m bid from their hated rivals and Smith wasn’t too popular with supporters, although the player probably wouldn’t have chosen Old Trafford if it had been up to him. Leeds legend Peter Lorimer has since revealed that, of the interested clubs, Man United were the only ones prepared to pay the transfer fee in full, rather than spread out payments. “Leeds fans didn't want him to go there but as far as the club is concerned, Alan Smith going there probably saved us from going into administration or liquidation a lot earlier than we did,” he said.
10. Nick Barmby swaps Everton for Liverpool
10. Nick Barmby swaps Everton for Liverpool – Everton were shocked when Barmby rejected a lucrative new contract to keep him at Goodison in the summer of 2000 because he wanted to play for Liverpool. Everton chairman Bill Kenwright had previously pleaded Barmby’s case with England manager Kevin Keegan in an attempt to get the player more international recognition and was stunned when told of Barmby’s desire to move across Stanley Park. “It was hearing he had used six of the worst words in the English language as far as Everton fans are concerned: ‘I want to play for Liverpool,’” he said. He was the first player to swap blue for red since Dave Hickson in 1959 and when the Everton fans gave him stick at Anfield in the October Merseyside derby, he popped up with a goal and celebrated wildly, as Liverpool won 3-1.
9. Carlos Tevez is welcomed to Manchester after leaving United for City
9. Carlos Tevez is welcomed to Manchester after leaving United for City – Tevez was very popular at Man United during a successful two-year loan spell where he won the Champions League in 2008, with fans regularly chanting: ‘Fergie, sign him up’. A year later, though, he was a Man City player – the first to move directly to the club since 1999 – and City supporters carried on the chant just to rub it in. The club, meanwhile, celebrated the deal publicly with a huge billboard reading: ‘Welcome to Manchester’ in a nod to the fans’ claim that their club is the only one in Manchester given that Old Trafford lies outside the city boundaries. Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t impressed: “a small club with a small mentality,” he said at the time.
8. Ashley Cole leaves Arsenal for London rivals Chelsea
8. Ashley Cole leaves Arsenal for London rivals Chelsea – Though it has no doubt faded over the years, Arsenal fans still reserve a special hatred for Cole. He joined Chelsea in 2006 after his relationship with the Gunners turned sour following allegations of tapping up in 2005 and he fanned the flames when he revealed in his autobiography the anger he felt at being offered a new £55,000-a-week contract by Arsenal. This gave rise to the nickname ‘Cashley Cole’, though his quotes have been taken slightly out of context in that he believed he was being offered considerably less than the Gunners had initially promised to pay him.
7. Johan Cruyff leaves Ajax for Feyenoord
7. Johan Cruyff leaves Ajax for Feyenoord – Ajax decided not to offer Cruyff a new deal, so what could he do to spite them? Join fierce rivals Feyenoord, of course. He had starred in Ajax’s three successive European Cups between 1971 and 1973, but in 1983 at the age of 37 he joined Feyenoord, a team who often like to remind Ajax they were the first Dutch club to win Europe’s biggest prize (in 1970). And by the end of the campaign, even the most die-hard Feyenoord fan had warmed to the idea of Cruyff playing for their team. How could they not when they were celebrating a league and cup double with him in the side, along with the emergence of a young player named Ruud Gullit?
6. Paul Ince goes from hero to zero after Man United pic
6. Paul Ince goes from hero to zero after Man United pic – Ince was West Ham’s bright young talent in the 1980s and Hammer of the Year in 1989, but the boyhood Irons fan incurred the wrath of fellow supporters when he left that year. West Ham were relegated and it was always going to be hard to keep the midfielder, but after he was pictured in a Man United shirt BEFORE actually signing for the club he was forever known as Judas. He has since explained it was done before he went on holiday, so his break was not interrupted by coming back for the obligatory snap once the deal was completed. However, it was accidentally published and the Upton Park faithful never forgot and reminded him of their feelings towards him every time he played them.
5. Sol Campbell causes outrage in north London
5. Sol Campbell causes outrage in north London – Campbell is one of the brightest young talents to have come through the youth ranks at Tottenham and fans loved him. That respect disappeared as soon as he left the club for nothing and signed for north London rivals Arsenal in 2001, where he became part of the ‘Invincibles’ side that won the Premier League title at White Hart Lane. Ouch.
4. Man United pinch Eric Cantona from Leeds and make ‘Ooh, aah, Cantona’ their own
4. Man United pinch Eric Cantona from Leeds and make ‘Ooh, aah, Cantona’ their own – The moral of this transfer tale is that it never hurts to ask. When Leeds attempted to sign Man United full-back Denis Irwin in November 1992 they were rebuffed, only for the Red Devils to counter with a speculative offer for mercurial Frenchman Cantona, who'd won the title with the Yorkshire club earlier that year. Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson agreed to the £1.2m deal and Sir Alex Ferguson got his man. Cantona's status as a hero among Leeds fans understandably disappeared, but a lot of anger was aimed at Wilkinson for letting him go for so little.
3. Luis Figo moves from Barca to Real and pigs fly
3. Luis Figo moves from Barca to Real and pigs fly – Figo was a Barcelona star and part of a team which racked up two titles, a Spanish Cup and a European Cup Winners Cup, but when Real Madrid called in 2000 he couldn’t turn them down. "I came to Madrid to win more titles and for prestige. And on better financial terms, of course." It was a bitter pill for Barca fans to swallow as they watched Figo herald Madrid's 'Galactico' era and they never forgave him, with one particular Clasico at the Camp Nou standing out. In November 2002 a variety of objects, including coins, bottles and the head of a pig showered the pitch as Barca supporters showed their former player how much they disliked him. Figo went on to win two Spanish titles and the Champions League with Madrid.
2. Roberto Baggio joining Juve causes a riot in Florence
2. Roberto Baggio joining Juve causes a riot in Florence – Fiorentina fans hate Juventus. The dislike stretches back to 1982 when Juve snatched the title from their grasp in controversial circumstances on the final day of the season, while the Old Lady also beat them in the 1990 UEFA Cup final. So when Fiorentina’s golden boy Baggio was sold to their rivals for £8m shortly afterwards, fans rioted. He returned to Florence as a Juve player in 1991 and the team bus required a police escort through the streets. During the game, he received all sorts of abuse, but the game ended in a home win, which also saw Baggio refuse to take a penalty. He was later substituted and managed to wind up the Juve fans, too, when he stopped to pick up and drape a Fiorentina scarf around his neck while walking off the pitch.
1. Mo Johnston manages to alienate two sets of supporters
1. Mo Johnston manages to alienate two sets of supporters – Johnston’s arrival at Rangers in 1989 managed to anger fans on both sides of the Glasgow divide. Having scored 52 goals in three seasons at Celtic, Johnston spent two years at Nantes in France and was expected to don the green and white shirt on his return to the Scottish league. He was even pictured in the summer of 1989 alongside Hoops boss Billy McNeill, and said: "There’s only one team I want to play for and that’s Celtic.” But nothing had been officially signed and Rangers manager Graeme Souness – no stranger to controversy – pounced and took Johnston to Ibrox, making him the club's first major Catholic signing. He slowly won over sceptical Gers fans, thanks to 31 goals in 76 games, plus wildly celebrating his goal in the Old Firm derby.