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Legendary Rivalries: Diego Armando Maradona vs Pele

11 Dec 2000: Diego Maradonna of Argentina tries to make up with Pele of Brazil afetr their recent disagreement at the FIFA World Player Gala at the Auditorium del Foro Italico in Rome, Italy. Mandatory Credit: Clive Mason/ALLSPORT

Despite not being a rivalry that was experienced on the pitch, Diego Armando Maradona and Pele are the ultimate enemies in football history.

This debate between Diego Maradona and Pele began around 1982 when Maradona proved that he would become the best player in the world, and dominated throughout the whole decade by playing a total of two consecutive World Cup finals.

During his career as a professional player, Pele also played a total of two finals but he is credited with three of these medals because his national team also won the 1962 World Cup in Chile.

For this alone, the Brazilian legend is considered as the best player in football history by many.

However, Diego Maradona’s irruption in football is one of the biggest surprises from the time and it sparked a very heated discussion between journalists about who is the better player from the two.

This fundamental disagreement dragged both players into the conversation, proving that both of them wanted to occupy the throne and leaving this debate wide open for many generations to come.

Despite having started their relationship on a good note during the start of the ’80s with an encounter that ‘El Grafico’ journal documented, both legends went on to create one of the biggest rivalries in football from each of their corners.

Maradona kept playing throughout that decade and Pele wasn’t able to defend himself from the pitch.

In regards to success between the two players, there is no way of knowing how well Pele would’ve done in European football unless he played there and sadly he never had a chance to prove himself in any competition other than the Brazilian league or Copa Libertadores.

Maradona on the other hand triumphed in Argentina before making his move to European football, FC Barcelona signed him and after a couple of years of bad luck, he eventually moved to Napoli to dominate Italian football.

They both had a very successful career with their respective national teams, but the ones who praise Maradona above everyone else suggest that Diego had it way more difficult because football evolved into a much more defensive battle.

For Brazil, Pele started his career at a very early age and became the star of the 1958 World Cup that brought his country its first international trophy of this nature.

The star went on to become an integral part of the squad that won three FIFA World Cup titles between 1958 and 1970, he was key in the first and the last titles that Brazil won during the period in which he played.

At club level, Pele had many more goals than Maradona to his personal count and many more trophies as well.

Playing for Santos, the Brazilian forward won six league trophies, two Copa Libertadores titles, and two Intercontinental titles during his prime.

Diego Maradona’s story for Argentina could’ve been similar to Pele’s if he hadn’t been excluded from the 1978 squad that Cesar Luis Menotti coached during the World Cup in his country.

Diego could’ve won that trophy even if he hadn’t played, which would’ve given him a much bigger trophy case and vast experience for his international career.

Maradona only won a single World Cup but he did lead Argentina to two finals, the man also took Napoli to compete at the very top with historic Italian clubs such as Michel Platini’s Juventus and Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan.

If you have to pick one of the two as the best, things will get incredibly difficult because both of them are considered the best of their era.

However, there is a case to make about Diego Maradona having a much more refined quality with the ball at his feet and offering a much more entertaining show when he played football for any squad he represented.

It is a bummer that a time machine doesn’t exist, we would use it to bring both of them back in their prime and face each other in a match that could give us a better idea of which player was the best out of the two.

We are certain that you will find the best option according to your personal taste, or maybe you prefer to pick a modern option as the best player in history.

Who is better for you, Diego Armando Maradona or Pele? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.