Is Pele Overrated? Who Are The Other Overrated Football Players?

As the title suggests, this post talks about the most overrated football players in history. And yes, it will include the “King Of Football” Pele as well. Let us make one thing very clear, an “overrated” player is not a bad player. An overrated player is a great player whose greatness is wildly exaggerated. In other words, overrated players are “perceived” to be better than they are. Now that it’s out of the way, let’s get started.

The Most Overrated Football Players Of All Time 

For a player to be called overrated, the player has to be good. Nobody is going to call a bad player overrated. Bad players are just bad players. The players who we are going to talk about, have enjoyed a lot of fan and critical support which has helped them earn an exalted status that they probably don’t deserve. Of course, many of them were great players, but that doesn’t stop us from thinking they were overrated.

Carlos Valderrama

The curly haired icon was one of the symbols of the great Colombian football teams of the early nineties. He was an elegant player with good ball control and dribbling skills. However, his peculiar look helped him to be considered an icon when he had many players ahead of him in football. Valderrama is the soccer representative in the field of an idea, Maturana’s, which failed miserably in the 1994 World Cup, extremely overrated. Many people will remember him more for his hair and cult status than his actual on field performance. 

Pep Guardiola

Many probably consider including the legendary coach Pep Guardiola a footballer on this list as sacrilege. In any case, absolute opinions do not exist, but it is indisputable that Pep Guardiola was an overrated player. Just like his greatness as a coach can’t be disputed, Guardiola’s days as a player are definitely overrated.

After a brilliant debut in which he soon achieved international status and his success, his performance dropped alarmingly. He dropped out of the national team and missed Euro 96 at a time when he became a shadow of the past. He later resurfaced, but injuries sabotaged a career that could have been much more legendary. His departure and his subsequent performances overshadowed his career, however, a part of the public had already sanctified Guardiola as an untouchable legend of the club. He was an extraordinary player at times, but his true greatness as a manager has made people look back at his playing career with rose tinted goggles.

Fabien Barthez

Few players have made as much profit from playing in a champion team and certain anecdotal facts as Fabien Barthez. When you are teammates with Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Didier Deschamps, Marcel Desailly, and Lilian Thuram, winning tournaments isn’t going to be very difficult. The French goalkeeper’s kisses and his dalliances with famous models gave him fame beyond the performance shown under the goalpost. Manchester United offered him the opportunity to play for one of the best clubs in the world, but he eventually became better known for his howlers than his epic saves.

Trinche Carlovich

If you are to believe certain Argentine football folklore, “Trinche” Carlovich is a player who is better than both Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona. So many raving stories have been written about this mysterious footballer with the air of a magician. Quite a few people have called him the best football player to come out of Argentina (which is quite frankly a ridiculous statement about a country that has given us Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi). Logically it is obvious to maintain reservations about his figure. Phrases like “the player who didn’t want to be Maradona” seem somewhat exaggerated.

Roger Milla

Whenever lists appear with the best players of the century or of the history of the World Cups, the name Roger Milla appears. As a mythical figure, there is no doubt that he deserves to be there, but you have to reflect on his true measure as a footballer and the fact that he appears ahead of other footballers in these rankings. Milla went down in history for the 1990 World Cup in Italy, a championship in which he was not even a starter in most of the games, and later made news again by becoming the oldest to score in the history of the championship. He is a great African player, but we’ve had numerous better players like George Weah, Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, and Sadio Mane that have emerged from the continent. 

David Beckham

Let’s be straightforward here. David Beckham was a very good player. He was great at set pieces and one of the best ever at delivering pin point crosses to strikers in the box. He starred in two of the biggest football clubs of all time, Manchester United and Real Madrid and performed well. However, his glamorous looks, lifestyle and marriage to Spice Girl Victoria Beckham led him to a level of fame much higher than he deserved. It’s not David Beckham’s fault that he is overrated, it’s mainly the British media that did it. However, we are not concerned with “how” a player became overrated. So David Beckham definitely belongs on this list. As a matter of fact, a lot of players from England’s “Golden Generation” can also be on this list.


When Manuel Ruiz de Lopera, CEO of Betis, announced Denilson’s signing for Betis, the world was shocked. The La Liga team had paid 21.5 million pounds (a record at that time) to acquire the services of Denilson. Real Betis had taken Denilson away from Real Madrid and Barcelona. However, it was soon realized that the Brazilian wasn’t as good as expected and he couldn’t even help Real Betis avoid relegation. He was soon reduced to the role of a fringe player on the squad and bounced around numerous teams across the world before retiring from the sport.

Fernando Torres

There is no middle ground when judging Atletico Madrid’s golden child. For some, he is a messiah, for others one of the most overrated footballers in history. This is indicated by the money that was paid for him or the fact that Vicente Calderón received him like a god when he returned to Atletico. Torres has also been a great striker, especially in his early days at Liverpool, but his appearance in finals and key moments will make him go down in history above other players who probably did more. He also played in loaded teams such as the Liverpool squad and the all conquering Spanish National Team. Fernando Torres was a great striker, but his greatness is definitely inflated.

Juan Roman Riquelme

One of the most elegant footballers ever, Riquelme is one of the greats without a doubt, but here we are talking about overrated footballers. It is evident that his value on the market was very inflated when Barça took notice of him, and it is also clear that if he had shown a different attitude in Europe he could have done more important things. While he did play better when he was in South America, his performance in Europe left much to be desired. 


Well, there can only be one player at the top of the list. Oddly enough, he also ends up near the top/at the top of many people’s lists of the greatest footballers of all time. We totally get why that happens but we are not going to be the ones who will discuss his quality and his enormous physical strength, but we will do so in terms of the fame that accompanied him during his career.

The first knock on Pele’s career is the fact that he never played in Europe during his career. Although it is fair to admit that the level of Brazilian clubs in the sixties was very high. But aside from Lev Yashin, he never went up against a great goalkeeper and most of the defenders combating him were substandard. It will be tough for Pele to pull his moves off against modern players like Paolo Maldini, Sergio Ramos, Virgil Van Dijk, and Cafu.

His goal scoring statistics are also inflated to achieve a more impressive result, and events such as his time in the United States in the 1970s made him a media phenomenon. Pelé achieved a lot in football, but his successes in that amateur league (especially in the first stage) had little to do with his excellence. However, as more time has passed, more people are realizing that players like Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are more worthy of being considered the best footballers of all time. But let’s not forget, Pele has been a great ambassador for the sport and has influenced a lot of football players in history.

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Shweta Jhawar

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