Liverpool legend Graeme Souness has broken rank from his often-spikey criticism of today’s stars to list who he believes are the top footballers of all time.
Souness, whose long-running critique of Man Utd star Paul Pogba has become something of a joke, knows a thing or two about top quality stars after a stellar career in the game, first as a battle-hardened midfielder for Liverpool and Scotland, and then as a successful manager for Rangers.
Plenty regard the legendary Pele as the greatest ever, but the Brazil hero only came third on Souness’ list – meaning the top spot was a straight battle between former Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona icon Lionel Messi vying for No 1.
And it was Messi who earned his place at the top of Souness’ tree; a decision plenty will agree with, but one many others won’t.
It was no shock to see Pogba not even mentioned in the conversation, however, given Souness’ regular criticism of the player.
Pogba’s admission that he had ‘never even heard of Souness’ prior to his move to England prompted the Liverpool legend to hit back with a ‘put your medals on the table’ jibe. This in turn prompted Robbie Fowler to wade in on the debate by urging Pogba to watch a recording of Souness playing for Liverpool in the 1984 European Cup final.
Rio Ferdinand, however, did not blame Pogba for his admission that he’d never heard of Souness and insists the Frenchman was not being disrespectful.
He told The Beautiful Game Podcast: “For Paul Pogba to say he doesn’t know who [Souness] is or wouldn’t know him as a footballer, I believe that.
“It’s not disrespectful, he doesn’t know him. As great a player as Souness was – he was a top player, one of the best.
“If you were talking about the best British midfielders we’ve produced, he’s in the conversation, 100 per cent, Graeme Souness was a good player.
“But Paul Pogba doesn’t know him. Simple as that, and that’s the difference of generations. I don’t think it’s disrespectful.
“If I was Paul Pogba, I’d say the same thing, but I would have said it from a disrespectful standpoint. Because I’d be saying, ‘you’ve been dissing me all this time and I’ve not kicked a ball, why are you talking about me?”