Pele: Brutal video of Brazilian legend being fouled shows why 'red cards were invented'

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The Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi debate is one that will rage on into eternity.

Despite the fact that we are rather blessed to have witnessed two of the greatest ever to kick a ball about, the warring camps are deeply entrenched when it comes to the defence of their chosen superstar.

For years, whenever one faction has been able to arm itself to the hilt with statistics and broken records, the other has come roaring back with ammunition of their own.

Following his unprecedented winning of a seventh Ballon d'Or title, however, team Messi does seem to have the upper hand at the moment.

But how do they match up to the greats of old? 

In truth, it would be impossible to objectively compare them to the likes of Diego Maradona and Pele who played in a very different game to the one we now know and love.

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Pele's astronomical goalscoring claims have become the butt of many a joke in modern times, but, when you see the sort of defending the man had to deal with, you can hardly begrudge him a bit of embellishment.

A brutal video started doing the rounds recently on social media showing how defenders in Pele's era dealt with his lightning speed and tricky feet.

It was a rather agricultural approach but, in that day and age, more than legal under the rules of the game. Opposing defenders would simply mow Pele down in anyway possible before he could get away and cause havoc.

From shoulders to elbows, to high boots and wild two-footers, Pele was battered from pillar to post during his career but still managed to plunder a quite obscene number of goals.

In fact, it was the treatment of Pele and other skilful footballers that was the driving force behind the introduction of red cards to the game in order to protect the attacking player from being treated like a punching bag.

Nowadays, defending has become much more of an art form, evolving from the no-nonsense, stop-him-by-any-means anarchy that backlines used to employ.

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You can only imagine what Pele might have been capable of had he played in the current era where the attacking player is protected to the nines against physical defending.

Would he have been able to eclipse even the achievements of Ronaldo and Messi? 

Sadly, we'll never actually know, but it does make for an interesting thought. 

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