Maradona and Pele share the tittle of the greatest footballer of the century.

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By Nyakana Fred

Brazil’s Pele and Argentine Diego Maradona are two of the greatest players in football history. There will never be another Pele, there will never be another Maradona. There will always be new players but not at the same level- former Brazilian left back Roberto Carlos.

The age old debate as to who the greatest footballer of all time is one which will never die down no matter how many moment of magic the likes of Lionel Messi  and Christiano Ronaldo continue to produce but even the most argumentative of football fans will concede that Pele and Diego belong to the very top tree; there’s  Pele vs Maradona on one side and every other ‘greatest of all time’ debate on the other.

Pele was born on October 23rd and Maradona’s birth date is  just a week later on October 30th , both inspired their countries  to world cup victories and still continue to the bench mark for the illustrious South American nation when anew star comes on to the block.  The number of players who have grown up idolizing these legends is immeasurable.

The two rightly shared the FIFA player of the century award when it announced a few years ago. However, there is no space for modesty in their minds when they talk about who they consider the greatest of all time is.

No love lost between the two greats.

“ According to me, Pele will always remain second best in football when compared to maradona” said the Argentine, and Pele’s opinion of his rival?  “ Maradona cannot be considered the best ever player as he couldn’t kick well with his right  foot and he didn’t score headed goals. The only important headed goal that maradona ever scored was scored with his hand!

There is no love lost between the two, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t stop the debates at at all; in fact, it exacerbates them  Here, We make a statistical comparisons of how the two have performed at the international and the club level.

Pele was two footed and a clinical finisher, as evident from his immaculate goal scoring record. But his cities argue that he played in an era where the game was played at the snails pace and that he had better players around him.

Maradona liked to control the game from mid field, bringing others into play and his supporters cite his performances at the 1986 world cup in Mexico as a proof of how the Argentina was greater ever. But the controversial “Hand of God” goal against England en route to that triumph and the doping scandal later in his carrier will unfortunately, forever cloud his achievements.

International career.

Unlike Messi and Ronaldo, Pele’s and Maradona’s great moments were achieved with their national teams, something which has made the pair a lot more endearing to their compatriots. Pele is the only player to have featured in three world cup winning teams, having tested success in 1958, 1962 and1970, while Maradona almost single-handedly inspired Argentina to the 1986 world cup triumph.

Pele announced his arrival on the ground stage as a 17 year old at the 1958 world cup, and went on to win the young player of the tournament award , finishing second top goal scorer with six goals in four matches- including one in the final. His next two world cups were marred with injuries though as he could play only one game in 1962 edition while he was literally kicked out of the 1966 tournament through persistent fouling by Bulgaria and the Portugal.

Maradona unlike Pele won the 1986 world cup for Argentina almost single handedly with five goals and as many assists. Maradona unlike Pele, had a lackluster first world cup outing as he was man marked out of the game; he scored just twice in four matches and was red carded in his  final outing, against Brazil.

Pele and maradona international record.

                                      Pele                                      Maradona.

Overall matches          92                                               91

Goals scored                 77                                               34

Ratio                           0.837                                          0.374

FIFA World cup

Matches                     14                                          21

Goals                    12                                             8

Pele played a majority of his career in Brazil with Santos before finishing off his career in the USA with new York Cosmos. His official record for the Brazilian club is an astonishing 643 goals from 656 matches. His honor during his time at the club include the double of Copa libertadores and intercontinental cup in 1962 and 1963, six brasileine serie A tittles and  10 compeanato Paulista.

Maradona started off his career with Argentine juniors winning the primera division title in his fifth and final season with the club . he repeated the feat in his single season with argentirian grants boca juniors before morning on a then world record transfer fee to Barcelona. His first season in Spain turned out to be a dream campaign as they secured the treble of La liga, copa Del rely and the Spanish super cup.

Maradona inspired Napoli to their most successful era in history, winning two serie as and the 1988-89 UEFA cup trophy and it was in Italy that maradona had his greatest time at club level turning out to be the savior  for Napoli. His rise to the peak of his career was reflected in the most successfully era in the Italian won serie A twice, finishing runner up the same number of times and they also divided the 1988/89 UEFA cup.

Pele and maradona club career

                  Player clubs           seasons        matches         goals

Pele          Santos                 1956-1974            656             643

                 NY cosmos       1975-1977              106             64

Total        763 matches  with   707 goals.

Maradona   Argentines juniors       1976-1980       166          116

                   Boca juniors                  1981                40           28

                   Barcelona                  1982/84              58           38

                   Napoli                         1984-1991       259         115

                   Sevilla                         1992/93            29            8

            Newell’s old boys                 1994                5              0

               Boca juniors                    1995-1998        31             7

Total         588          312

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