Greatest of all time. The pinnacle that any athlete can reach in their sport. To be known as the best ever. However, the word GOAT gets thrown about far too much on social media these days. In the modern era, people are too quick to forget the achievements of those who have gone before and are quick to claim their new favourite sports star is the greatest.
We’ve had enough of all that tomfoolery here at The Sportsman, so we have come up with the definitive, non-negotiable greatest of all time, from every sport.
Football - Lionel Messi
Not a bad place to start. Messi has mastered football and is the greatest football of all time. He is a joy to watch and proved against Manchester United in the Champions League that he is unstoppable when he gets going, capable of flipping a game on its head with a deft flick of that left foot. Critics will point to his lack of international trophies, however, if Gonzalo Higuain had finished big chances in finals, Messi would be sitting here with two Copa America titles and one World Cup.
Those finals were not meant to be and the Argument that he cannot be classed the best ever until he has played outside of Barcelona is silly. He routinely tears apart every top club in the Champions League, he would not struggle to play and score hatfuls against Huddersfield, Brighton or Burnley every weekend.
GOAT: Lionel Messi
Best of 21st Century: Lionel Messi
Boxing: Sugar Ray Robinson
Seems like a funny way to spell Muhammad Ali… Sugar Ray Robinson is the real GOAT in boxing. His career was almost unbelievable and he made his mark in an era when racism was rife and he had to deal with some shocking abuse. As a young amatuer, he won all of his 85 fights with 69 knockouts before turning pro.
In the 1940’s he made his mark on the sport, regularly fighting several times a month, and winning, a lot. Over a spectacular 25 year career he finished with a record of 173-19-6, which included a staggering 91 fight unbeaten streak.
He fought anyone and everyone, battling his way through the division at a rapid rate. He held the world welterweight title for five years whilst also holding the middleweight title in 1951. A pioneer of boxing, Sugar Ray Robinson edges out Muhammed Ali and Floyd Mayweather for the title of TBE.
GOAT: Sugar Ray Robinson
Best of 21st Century: Floyd Mayweather
Golf: Jack Nicklaus
During a simply staggering career, Jack Nicklaus enjoyed 18 major triumphs, more than any player in the history of golf. The Golden Bear won each of the four majors at least three times apiece, slipping on a staggering six Green Jackets, the last of which was in 1986 when he was 46. Let’s not forget that he was also a runner-up in 19 other major tournaments. There’s also the 73 PGA Tour victories, the five Ryder Cup triumphs as a player - he won 16 of his 28 matches - and two as skipper.
A champion through and through, and golf’s GOAT, for now.
GOAT: Jack Nicklaus
Best of the 21st Century: Tiger Woods
Cricket: Sachin Tendulkar
Tough one this. Don Bradman is truly one of the greatest sportspeople of all time but for us, he is just pipped by the great Sachin Tendulkar. Nobody has scored more runs in international cricket than ‘the God of Cricket’ and the great Indian batsman has picked up a whole host of awards and accolades during his distinguished career. He scooped the 2011 World Cup with his country and was the highest run scorer in both the 1999 and 2003 editions of the tournament whilst he also became the first player to score 2000 runs in World Cups.
Tendulkar. The ‘God of Cricket’.
GOAT: Sachin Tendulkar
Best of the 21st Century: Sachin Tendulkar
Tennis: Roger Federer
Smooth, silky and sexy. Roger Federer is the best tennis player to have ever held a racquet. He has won more Grand Slam titles than any other man in history (20) and was number one in the world for a record 310 weeks. He’s won more Wimbledon titles than anyone else, reached more finals than anybody else and is just a pleasure to watch.
He glides around the court like a swan and has always produced the perfect delicate touch when it is needed. In an era when pace, strength and power seem to always come out on top, it is a privilege to witness Federer play tennis.
GOAT: Roger Federer
Best of the 21st century: Roger Federer
Athletics: Jesse Owens
Athletics features thousands of athletes competing in a whole host of events so it is difficult to pin down who is the greatest of all time. But we’ve only gone a done it. Usain Bolt may be the quickest human to have ever lived and although he comes close here, Jesse Owens is the true GOAT.
1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler was in control of Germany and hoping to prove that his Aryan race was superior to all others. Then came black athlete Jesse Owens, who had ignored warnings not to travel to Berlin and won four gold medals.
100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the long jump. He beat everyone, including the blonde haired and blue eyed Germans, and put a statement out to the world. A true legend of athletics, the greatest of all time.
GOAT: Jesse Owens
Best of the 21st century: Usain Bolt