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PIERS MORGAN: Tom Brady the greatest athlete ever? Sorry America, but he doesn’t make my Top 10

All hail King Tom Brady!

The superstar quarterback’s record-breaking 7th Super Bowl victory yesterday means he’s now won it more times than any NFL franchise, let alone any other player.

And the fact he’s done it again at the age of 43, after leaving the team that he’d been with for 20 glorious years, makes it all the more extraordinary and admirable.

So perhaps it’s little wonder that many are now calling Brady the ‘Greatest Sportsman of All Time’.

Indeed, social media has been buzzing with such hyperbolic claims from the moment Brady was awarded his fifth Super Bowl MVP award last night, breaking his own record of four.

Don’t get me wrong; he’s a magnificent athlete with an extraordinary work ethic and will-to-win that places him in the very highest echelons of sporting achievement.

But the G.O.A.T?

No chance.

All hail King Tom Brady! The superstar quarterback’s record-breaking 7th Super Bowl victory yesterday means he’s now won it more times than any NFL franchise, let alone any other player

As for the greatest when it comes to all male sportsmen in history, Brady doesn't even make my Top 10

As for the greatest when it comes to all male sportsmen in history, Brady doesn’t even make my Top 10

For me, Brady's not even the greatest NFL star of all time – that accolade goes to Joe Montana. Even Brady has admitted that Montana 'is in a league of his own

For me, Brady’s not even the greatest NFL star of all time – that accolade goes to Joe Montana. Even Brady has admitted that Montana ‘is in a league of his own

For me, Brady’s not even the greatest NFL star of all time – that accolade goes to Joe Montana. Even Brady has admitted that Montana ‘is in a league of his own.’

As for the greatest when it comes to all male sportsmen in history, Brady doesn’t even make my Top 10.

My ten all-time greats below have eclipsed him when it comes to dominance at their sport or pure genius. Or, as in most cases, both.

10. Ayrton Senna (Brazil). There have been many great racing drivers, but nobody has ever driven a car with the demonic brilliance and flair of the Brazilian genius. He wasn’t the most successful Formula One driver – Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher have eclipsed him – and there are a few NASCAR drivers like Petty, Earnhardt Sr, or Johnson who might have beaten him in their format. But if you put every great driver into the same car around the same track and told them they had to race for their life, then Senna would beat them all. He was fantastically fearless and dazzlingly dangerous, and ultimately that cost him his life in a horrific crash. But it also made him the greatest driver of all time.

Ayrton Senna was fantastically fearless and dazzlingly dangerous, and ultimately that cost him his life in a horrific crash. But it also made him the greatest driver of all time

Ayrton Senna was fantastically fearless and dazzlingly dangerous, and ultimately that cost him his life in a horrific crash. But it also made him the greatest driver of all time

There aren't enough superlatives for the undisputed king of ice hockey. Suffice it to say that nobody else has even come close to most of the records Wayne Gretzky holds

Swimmer Michael Phelps (right) worked harder at being the greatest than anyone else who has ever jumped into swimming pool

There aren’t enough superlatives for the undisputed king of ice hockey. Suffice it to say that nobody else has even come close to most of the records Wayne Gretzky (left) holds. Swimmer Michael Phelps (right) worked harder at being the greatest than anyone else who has ever jumped into swimming pool. He won 23 Olympic gold medals – which is 14 more than anyone else from any sport. That stat alone gets him onto my list

9. Wayne Gretzky (Canada) There aren’t enough superlatives for the undisputed king of ice hockey. Suffice it to say that nobody else has even come close to most of the records he holds. Even now, more than 20 years after Gretzy’s final game, his point total remains 1007 clear of the rest of the field, and staggeringly, even if he’d never scored a single goal, his assist total would still make him the NHL’s all-time leading scorer. Little wonder he was known as ‘The Great One.’

8. Michael Phelps (USA). I once asked the greatest swimmer in history why he was so much better than anyone else, and he smirked: ‘Ask all the others if they ever went five consecutive years without a single day off training…’ It’s true he’s a physical freak with a massively longer arm-span-to-body ratio than most human beings. But it’s also true that Phelps worked harder at being the greatest than anyone else who has ever jumped into swimming pool. He won 23 Olympic gold medals – which is 14 more than anyone else from any sport. That stat alone gets him onto my list.

Roger Federer is the only tennis player ever to win at least 10 titles on three different surfaces

Roger Federer is the only tennis player ever to win at least 10 titles on three different surfaces

7. Roger Federer (Switzerland) Here’s the question that defines Federer as the greatest tennis player in history: who would you trust to win you a match if you didn’t know what surface it was going to be played on before you had to decide? Djokovic is brilliant on hard courts, Nadal on clay, McEnroe on indoor/carpet, and Federer on grass. But the latter is the most complete all-round player. He’s the only one ever to win at least 10 titles on three different surfaces. Add his 20 grand slam wins (joint top with Nadal), and his record 310 weeks at No1 on the ATP rankings, and Federer’s the tennis G.O.A.T.

Tiger Woods was a great trailblazer and barrier-smasher for golf, and his record speaks for itself

There are many candidates for the title of G.O.A.T. including Pele, Maradona, Messi and George Best. But I put Cristiano Ronaldo above them all. He recently broke the all-time goal-scoring record of 758 goals and is still playing out of his skin for Juventus in Italy at the age of 36

There are many candidates for the title of G.O.A.T. including Pele, Maradona, Messi and George Best. But I put Cristiano Ronaldo above them all. He recently broke the all-time goal-scoring record of 758 goals and is still playing out of his skin for Juventus in Italy at the age of 36

6. Tiger Woods (USA) Watching the new HBO documentary about Woods reminded me just how astonishing it was that a young black kid rose to the very top of a sport played almost exclusively by white people. Tiger was a great trailblazer and barrier-smasher for golf, and his record speaks for itself. But what gets him on my list ahead of Jack Nicklaus, who won a lot more majors, is his comeback. Shamed, vilified, and physically broken after years of scandal and injury, Tiger was written off by the end of 2017, after dropping out of the Top 1000 in the world rankings. Nobody gave him a prayer of winning a major again. But he defied all the doubters, and doctors, to win The Masters again – for the fourth time – just 18 months later. It was the most miraculous comeback since Lazarus and cements his place in sporting folklore.

5. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Football, the real version with the round ball that Americans call ‘soccer’, is the most popular participant sport in the world, so to be the best at ever playing it is an incredible challenge and accolade. There are many candidates for the title of G.O.A.T. including Pele, Maradona, Messi and George Best. But I put Cristiano above them all. He recently broke the all-time goal-scoring record of 758 goals and is still playing out of his skin for Juventus in Italy at the age of 36. A supreme athlete and phenomenal competitor, who has won trophies in four different countries, Cristiano is the best real footballer to ever lace his boots.

Usain Bolt is that person and managed to combine tremendous physique, speed and power with a wonderfully charismatic personality, delighting in beating his chest and grinning as he destroys his opponents

Usain Bolt is that person and managed to combine tremendous physique, speed and power with a wonderfully charismatic personality, delighting in beating his chest and grinning as he destroys his opponents

4. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) When I was young, the only event I cared about at the Olympics was the 100m sprint. To me, it was the purest test of athleticism and nothing could possibly be cooler than being able to call yourself the fastest man on earth. Well, there is one thing actually – and that’s being able to call yourself the fastest human being to EVER live on earth. Bolt is that person and managed to combine tremendous physique, speed and power with a wonderfully charismatic personality, delighting in beating his chest and grinning as he destroys his opponents. He won eight Olympic golds and 11 world titles, and still holds the world record in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. But the bottom line with ‘Lightning’ Bolt is that when he was fit, he was unbeatable.

It was the 'dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee' way he fought, the fabulously flamboyant way he talked the talk, and his stunning influence on the global stage, that that made Muhammad  Ali special

It was the ‘dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ way he fought, the fabulously flamboyant way he talked the talk, and his stunning influence on the global stage, that that made Muhammad  Ali special

3. Muhammad Ali (USA) Ali called himself ‘The Greatest’ but in pure statistical terms, he wasn’t the best boxer of all time. Others like Rocky Marciano and Floyd Mayweather ended their careers unbeaten, whereas Ali lost five of his 61 fights. But it was the ‘dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee’ way he fought, the fabulously flamboyant way he talked the talk, and his stunning influence on the global stage, that that made Ali special. And when he became the only man in history to win the World Heavyweight Title for a third time, the Louisville Lip cemented his boxing legacy as The Greatest.

I don't think there's any doubt Michael Jordan was the best basketball player in history

I don’t think there’s any doubt Michael Jordan was the best basketball player in history

2. Michael Jordan (USA) I don’t think there’s any doubt Jordan was the best basketball player in history. And if you don’t agree, watch the extraordinary ESPN/Netflix series Last Dance then come back to me. He won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, became an unprecedented billionaire marketing sensation for Nike, and turned basketball into a true global sport. But more than that, he showed how far a man can go in sport when he’s prepared to risk it all. This is a guy who played on with a broken foot when doctors told him he had a 10% chance of ending his career if he continued. So, Michael Jordan was a verifiable lunatic, but also the second greatest sportsman in history.

Cricket player Sir Donald Bradman or The Don, as he was known, was indisputably the greatest sportsmen to ever live. His stats were ridiculous: a final batting international batting average of 99.94 runs per innings, which is an astonishing 38 runs above the next highest player (Bradman is pictured in 1963)

1. Sir Donald Bradman (Australia). ‘Who?’ I hear Americans cry in disbelief. To which my response is that he was a cricket player. At which point, I can hear the sound of bemused teeth-gnashing and mocking laughter fly across the pond to my office in London. ‘You’re seriously putting some guy we’ve never heard of, who played a sport we can’t understand, above the likes of Jordan, Ali and Woods?’ Well, yes actually. Because The Don, as he was known, was indisputably the greatest sportsmen to ever live. His stats were ridiculous: a final batting international batting average of 99.94 runs per innings, which is an astonishing 38 runs above the next highest player. For 20 years, he bestrode the cricketing world like a colossus, mercilessly smashing bowlers and records with equal gusto. He was a 5ft 7in machine who wielded such dominance that if he had scored just four runs in his final innings, his international average would have been 100, which in cricket terms is perfection. Instead, he was out for zero, proving that nobody’s perfect. But Bradman came the closest to achieving perfection of any sportsman in history. And that’s why, for me, he’s the sporting G.O.A.T.

Ps. One positive note for Tom Brady is that tomorrow morning he will wake up next to Giselle. When it comes to sporting wives, he’s definitely the G.O.A.T.

Ps. One positive note for Tom Brady is that tomorrow morning he will wake up next to Giselle (pictured). When it comes to sporting wives, he's definitely the G.O.A.T.

Ps. One positive note for Tom Brady is that tomorrow morning he will wake up next to Giselle (pictured). When it comes to sporting wives, he’s definitely the G.O.A.T.


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