Pelé has been voted the greatest footballer of all time

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Pelé has been voted the greatest footballer of all-time – ahead of Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The three-time World Cup winner scored 727 goals during his glittering 21 year career, including 77 for Brazil in 92 appearances.

Widely regarded as football’s first superstar, he is still the youngest player ever to appear in a World Cup final featuring in the culmination of the 1958 tournament aged just 17.

He made his domestic debut at 16 years old for Santos FC and remained there until 1975, when he moved to New York Cosmos amid much fanfare for the final two years of his career.

Elsewhere in the poll, just a handful of votes separated Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who finished second and third respectively – suggesting the debate of who is better is far from over.

Manchester United legend George Best was the highest ranking Briton in the poll commissioned by the History television channel to mark its History of Football season, which runs from 28 May to 10 June.

The former Northern Ireland international came fourth ahead of Argentine great Diego Maradona.

Dan Korn, vice-president of programming for History said: “History’s special season of football programming aims to ignite an entertaining debate on what were the ultimate historic moments of the sport, who stands as the best player in history, which coaches most shaped the game – and much more.”

England’s 1966 World Cup winning captain, Bobby Moore finished sixth, ahead of ex-Barcelona and Holland star Johan Cruyff, who came seventh.

Moore’s ’66 teammate, Sir Bobby Charlton, finished eighth and was joined in the top 10 by ‘Golden Balls’ David Beckham and current Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane.

Other notable names in the top 40 included England’s Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne and Bryan Robson who perhaps most famously all represented England at Italia ‘90.

Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and England’s current record goalscorer, Wayne Rooney and are among the more recent English players on the list.

Sir Tom Finney, at one stage the Three Lions’ highest ever goalscorer, appears too.

Legends such as Eusébio, Franz Beckenbauer and Marco van Basten featured as well, alongside current stars of the game Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Gareth Bale.

Carried out through OnePoll, the research also identified the greatest manager of all-time as Sir Alex Ferguson, who finished ahead of Brian Clough and Bill Shankly.

The greatest moment in England’s football history was revealed as the 1966 World Cup win.

But the Three Lions’ second-greatest ever moment was the 5-1 win over Germany in 2001, while their third was Paul Gascoigne’s wonder goal against Scotland at Euro ‘96.

Former England captain Terry Butcher, who features in Return to Turin: Italia ’90 airing on History on Monday, 28 May at 9pm, said: “There’s always been a real interest and passion for football in the UK, particularly the history and nostalgia.

“Some incredible highs and disastrous lows for all the nations in the UK, but that is football – unpredictable, heroic and full of passion.”

Top 40 greatest footballers of all time:

1. Pelé

2. Lionel Messi

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

4. George Best

5. Diego Maradona

6. Bobby Moore OBE

7. Johan Cruyff

8. Sir Bobby Charlton CBE

9. David Beckham OBE

10. Zinedine Zidane

11. Thierry Henry

12. Franz Beckenbauer

13. Eusébio

14. Kenny Dalglish MBE

15. Ronaldinho

16. Ryan Giggs OBE

17. Gary Lineker OBE

18. Paul Gascoigne

19. Ronaldo

20. Steven Gerrard MBE

21. Denis Law CBE

22. Dennis Bergkamp

23. Alfredo Di Stéfano

24. Ferenc Puskás

25. Wayne Rooney

26. Sir Tom Finney CBE

27. Michael Owen

28. Michel Platini

29. Jürgen Klinsmann

30. Lothar Matthäus

31. Marco van Basten

32. Mohamed Salah

33. Bryan Robson OBE

34. Lev Yashin

35. Gareth Bale

36. Zlatan Ibrahimović

37. Franco Baresi

38. Xavi

39. Kevin De Bruyne

40. Gianluigi Buffon

SWNS

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