According to Brazilian icon Romario, there have only been two players in history who were better than him, and they are not Ronaldo or Messi.

Romario scored 55 goals in 70 games for Brazil from 1987 to 2005. In 1994, he earned the Golden Ball award when the Seleção captured the World Cup trophy.

Even more so, the ex-Barcelona player claims he was on par with superstars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Furthermore, the 58-year-old boasted about how he thought he was better than Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland and Luis Suarez.

During an interview with Catenaccio e Contropiede, Romario discussed comparisons between himself and several famous players, both active and retired or late. Rarely did he choose the alternative when asked to identify the better player.

If you ask Romario, he was no match for Pele or Diego Maradona. “So only two beat Romario, Maradona and Pele?” the questioner asked him. At that, Romario said, “My opinion is this.”

Even Neymar, Zico, Rivaldo, and Bebeto—all Brazilians—fell short in Romario’s estimation. To be fair, the World Cup victor did concede that four other players were on par with him.

Illustrious career

The 1994 World Cup saw him earn the title of the tournament’s best player after scoring five goals. Yet, he didn’t win the Ballon d’Or award. Until the next year, only players from Europe could compete for the prize. As a result, despite Romario’s best efforts, Bulgaria’s Hristo Stoichkov earned the award instead.

The striker won the Copa America trophy three times during his time playing for his country. Not only that, but he has ten major club titles to his name.

That included Brazilian, Spanish, and Dutch league championships among them. In Eindhoven, he made 148 appearances for PSV and scored 128 goals.

He maintained that form into 1993 when he joined Barcelona in La Liga. While playing for the Camp Nou club for 18 months, the Brazilian scored 39 goals in 65 games.

Long-standing rivalry with Pele

The late icon Pele and Romario had a rocky relationship that lasted decades. In 2014, the tension between the two Brazilian icons reached a boiling point when Romario referred to the latter as an “imbecile.”

These two ex-Selecao forwards have been at odds ever since Romario called Pele “a poet when he doesn’t speak” in 2007. It was the beginning of their long-running rivalry. This remark has long been associated with the 58-year-old retired Romario.

When asked about the comment in an interview at the time, three-time World Cup champion Pele said: “There are lots of people who don’t really know what they want and simply attack the past.” This quote was meant as a response.

“But I’m a Catholic and I believe that God always forgives the ignorant, so I forgive the ignorant.”

How did Romario respond?

In response, Romario went to his own Facebook page, demonstrating his inability to resist answering back. “Yesterday, Pele responded to my famous quote, ‘Quiet, Pele is a poet.’ It is a commonly used phrase, after all, he’s always giving reason for it to be used.

“The last foolish thing he said was that Corinthians should be used as the base to the Selecao. He asked for it, didn’t he?” A few pieces of information about this gentleman… First of all, the base of the team he suggested to the Selecao got the biggest boo of their history. And deservedly so because they were awful.

“Secondly, he said he’s a big Catholic. I don’t think he’s such a Catholic. If he was, he would’ve recognized his daughter and gone to her funeral. Aside from a poet, he’s also an imbecile.”

However, as Pele’s health began to deteriorate, Romario set aside his previous disagreements and joined the chorus of voices praying for the player’s recovery in December 2022.