Diego Maradona has launched a scathing attack on Pele and suggested the Brazilian will always be regarded as the second best to him.
The duo have regularly bickered over their respective standing and Maradona was not pleased to see Pele lift an honorary award at the recent FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich. Maradona was handed a similar prize in the 1990s.
“How can people say Pele received the Ballon d’Or before me? I received the Golden Ball for services to football from France Football in 1996,” the Argentine told reporters.
“So to make out as if Pele is the first one to receive the award before me is a huge mistake. For me, Pele will always remain second best in football when compared to Maradona. Look at it this way: In his own country, Brazil, Pele is the second best sportsman after former Formula One racer Ayrton Senna.
“Pele will always be second, be it in international football or in Brazilian sports. The sad thing is that he is second best and he will continue to stay in that position. While presenting this year’s Ballon d’Or to Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele uttered his name as ‘Cristiano Leonardo.’ This just shows where he belongs.”
The remarks perpetuate a feud that has festered for years and dates back to the contentious decision by FIFA to jointly award their Player of the Century award to both players – this, despite Maradona being a comfortable winner in the original online poll.
Maradona captained Argentina to success at the 1986 FIFA World Cup, also securing 2 league championships in Italy with Napoli, and his homeland with Boca Juniors.
Pele, meanwhile, has three World Cups to his name and scored 1,283 goals in 1,363 games.
Ultimately, trying to settle a debate over which of the pair was the best player of all time, is destined to be a futile pursuit. But it does allow us the opportunity to watch some vintage footage of the pair.