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· I'm so gorgeous they want to arrest me
9,027 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Simple question really Pele or Maradona.

For me its definately Maradona. What do you think.


Both Brazil legend Pele and Argentina's idol Diego Maradona have long since retired, yet the argument over their relative merits never goes away.

Indeed, any time the pair are mentioned on, passionate disagreement and misty-eyed reminiscence follows.

But in the end it usually comes down to a head-to-head comparison. So, why not vote on which was the best?

First of all, here's a bit of background information courtesy of's Carlo Garganese:

There are some things in this world that simply cannot be agreed on. For example; the Rolling Stones vs The Beatles, Magic Johnson vs Michael Jordan, and Pele vs Maradona.

This last question has split opinion almost more than any other and will continue to do so forever.

So how do you judge how good a player is? Well there are many ways.

Medals & Trophies

Pele won three World Cups, two Copa Libertadores', two Intercontinental Cups and a host of other Brazilian and American titles, while he picked up the FIFA Player of the Century Award in 2000.

Maradona on the other hand won just a single World Cup, league titles in Argentina and Italy, national Cups in Spain and Italy, and a horde of individual honours including best player at the 1986 World Cup, FIFA Goal of the Century, and FIFA Player of the Century (People's Choice).

Some would argue that the fact that Pele won three World Cups to Maradona's one, would make him the better player.

Of course team prizes, the greatest of them all being the World Cup, are very important, however it is totally incorrect to judge a player solely on the trophies they won. Pele was a young 17-year-old in 1958, barely made an impact in 1962 and 1966 due to injury, and in 1970, despite his fine performances, he was playing in the best football team of all time alongside the likes of Tostao, Rivelino, Gerson and Jairzinho.

Maradona however dragged a distinctly average Argentina team all the way to World Cup glory in 1986, scoring the greatest goal of all time against England in the quarter-final, and another almost equally as brilliant against Belgium in the semis.

As has been stated on numerous occasions in the past, Brazil would have won the 1970 World Cup with or without Pele. Sixteen years later Argentina probably wouldn't have got past Enzo Francescoli's Copa America holders Uruguay in the second round without Maradona in their side.

This doesn't necessarily make Maradona a better player. Although one has to ask the question: if Pele was playing for Argentina in 1986 – would they have won the World Cup? I very much doubt it.

Goals Scored

Supporters of Pele always boast how he scored 1281 goals in 1363 games. First of all it must be pointed out that there is a great deal of uncertainty over this total. Many of these goals were scored for Santos in the state and local championships, where the opposition was not that strong.

Nevertheless with 77 goals in 92 appearances for Brazil, 12 of them in the World Cup, no one can question Pele's astonishing goalscoring ability.

Maradona hit 34 in 91 appearances, eight in World Cups, and had a career total of 311 in 590 appearances.

Once again you should not read too much into goal statistics such as these. A great player or forward will score goals when they really matter, such as in big title deciders or cup knockout matches.

Some prolific goalscorers from the past have not always necessarily produced their best in these big games. Followers of Italian football will know that Alberto Gilardino has a fine record for Milan, however he has always struggled to score against the top teams or in the important matches.

Both Pele and Maradona did this, so in this respect they cannot be separated.

Fair Play

This is the argument that Pele is the greatest because Maradona is a poor role model - Diego's substance abuse and the fact that he ‘cheated' with his ‘hand of god' goal against England in 1986 makes him a lesser player.

This hypothesis is frankly ridiculous. Regardless of how poorly Maradona behaved off the pitch, and how much he bent the rules on it, this all makes no difference to how great a player he was.

Indeed in central and southern Europe and South America, being crafty and sneaky is seen as a major part of the game. If you can con the referee or an opponent and score a goal because of it, then you are tactically and mentally a better player.

While on moral grounds Maradona can be criticised for his cocaine addiction, it should not interfere with how he is regarded as a footballer. Do you say that Amy Winehouse is a bad singer because she takes drugs? I don't think so.

Pele is no angel either. Indeed some would argue that, as part of the “FIFA Family†along with Sepp Blatter, Joao Havelange and Co, he is indeed worse than Maradona. Politics is the disease of football and one only has to look at the annual shortlist for the FIFA World Player of the Year to realise this.

It should also be cleared up that Maradona never took performance-enhancing drugs, as is often mistakenly believed. Cocaine actually results in a drop in the level of play, and indeed Diego said yesterday that he would have been three-times the player he was without his addiction.

Video Footage

Deciding who was better out of Pele and Maradona is difficult due to the lack of video footage that was around during the 1950s and 60s when Pele was in his prime.

Maradona burst on the scene during an age when football was exploding into a multi-million-pound business. The footage of Pele is mainly restricted to that from World Cups. Indeed the King said himself that the greatest goal he ever scored, when he supposedly took on an entire team, was deleted from the archives a couple of decades ago.

With this in mind it is perhaps wrong to use video footage to decide who was better out of Maradona and Pele. Best clip compilations on the Internet are dangerous. I could put a highlights package of all the best moments and tricks from Emile Heskey's career and claim that he was in fact the best player of all time.

OK, I probably couldn't – but you get my point. In order to decide how good a player is, you have to see them for the full 90 minutes, on a regular and consistent basis.

Longevity, which both of these players had, is important too. It is no good being world-class for two years before disappearing from the game. These players are legends because they were at the top of world football for 15 years or more. This is what makes the likes of Paolo Maldini, now in his 23rd year of top-flight football such a phenomenon.

Pele Came Before Maradona

One thing that is important to recognise is that Pele was perhaps a number of years ahead of his time. His footballing brain was like no other.

“I told myself before the game, 'he's made of skin and bones just like everyone else' - but I was wrong,†said Tarciso Burgnich of Italy after the 1970 World Cup final.

Some say that if there was no Pele, there would have been no Cruijff, Zico, Maradona, Baggio or Zidane.

Deciding who was better out of Pele and Maradona is a hugely difficult answer to arrive at.

I have laid out a number of arguments above and now it is up to you, the fans, to decide.

I reach my own answer by asking myself whether Argentina would have won the World Cup in 1986 had they had Pele instead of Maradona.

For me the answer is no, and for this reason I would say that Maradona had more of an ‘individual' impact on a team than Pele.

However, we will never know for sure the answer to this question...

· Berbatov>Tevez
11,812 Posts
i never saw pele live obviously but when taking into account some of the players he had to play with in brasil squad back then and comparing them with maradona's teammates it is obvious that maradona had less quality players to play with...

also pele never played for any european side , so maradona's success with a mediocre napoli side has even more importance ...

· Thank you Sir Alex
5,755 Posts
I haven't really seen either of them play to make a judgment. Older members in forum might have something to say. But from the few youtube videos i've seen, its Maradona for me.

· Registered
4,457 Posts
1. George Best

2. Maradona

3. Pele

Maradona was from another planet, he should go down as the greatest to play the game.
Pele was a class act but didn't play against players of Maradonas quaity IMO

But if i was giving a chance to see any player in the world play.. it would be George Best in his hay day!!

Maradona no1 though.... But George was the still the best.
If that makes sense

· Keen on Fella's
8,388 Posts
for me maradona is without doubt the best player ever to have played the game.
his achievements with napoli were extraordinary, he was mesmerising with the ball he had unbelievable balance poise and strength for a little fella.
people often compare messi to maradona, well messi has some similarity's but he has a long way to go yet.
i could wax lyrical all night about maradona.
ill keep it short... maradona is the bestsince best

· He wipes front to back
27,747 Posts
pele by a street - i would place di stefano ahead of maradona as well .

finest players from last 50 years for me are pele best di stefano maradonna,cruyff,beckenbaur,puskas,eusebio and fat ronaldo . just outside the list would be ruud gullit who was awesome for 3 years
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