Mia Hamm? Kristine Lilly? Sun Wen?
I vote for Michelle Akers.
O.K. If you want to votea female player: Iwill create a new poll.
I'd actually take Akers over even Pelé for "greatness." She single-handedly created women's football (eh, soccer) as a major worldwide sport. Akers was a phenomenal, physical striker until her body just couldn't take the beating any longer. She moved to midfield and I have never seen another player so dominate the middle of the pitch. Pelé (and Maradona) were better one on one and could freeze an opposing team. But Akers could impose her will on a game in a way that neither man could. To watch her prowl midfield, tilting the game to wherever she went, winning back possession, springing Hamm and Lilly over the top, was to be in the presence of true greatness.
I think the toughest (and greatest) thing to do in sports is to force your team to victory. Its much harder than anything an individual athlete could ever do. Technical skills, awareness of the entire game, leadership, the ability to make those around you better and a refusal to let you or your team do anything to lose the game were all parts of Akers' game. To do all of this in the face of CFS is what makes Michelle Akers the greatest... bar none.
Very similar to my list- good idea to have a poll. I don't think Sepp Maier really belongs here; he won a lot of caps (as did Dino Zoff) but Gordon Banks was one of the 2 best goalies ever along with Yashin. And no room for Di Stefano, Zidane and Moore? John Charles should be included as he was not only a great centre forward but also a great centre half; a rarity. If he hadn't been injured- kicked out by the Hungarians- for the 1958 quarter final between Wales and Brazil (which Brazil won 1-0 with a late goal by Pelé), world football history might have been very different!
Anyway, although Pelé was surely the greatest, crucial in 3 world cups, and so many goals in his career, i voted Cruyff, who deserves to be automatically recognised as one of the big 3 (Maradona the other). He was a master at controlling a match; a general, a genius, and Dutch total football revolved round him.