Although Lionel Messi is a contender to be better than both of them, many would say that Diego Maradona and Pele would be in the top three best players ever.
Many believe Pele to be the greatest ever, but here is why Maradona was better.
First of all, let me dispell one of football’s most common myths; that Pele scored 1284 goals in his career. This is simply not true; this is including friendlies, and even several unprofessional matches.
He did, in fact, score 727. This is, of course, not a stat to be unhappy with; especially as he only played 786 games (a 92% goal ratio), not including countless assists he got over the years.
This goal tally is over three times the amount Maradona got, but there are many reasons for this.
Firstly, it is crucial to note that Pele and Maradona were very different in their playing styles.
While Pele was an out-and-out striker, Maradona played slightly deeper (in the position Rooney has inherited). When Pele was almost always the scorer, Maradona both scored and assisted to fantastic standard.
Just based on quality of goals, one would probably say that Maradona had the edge. The main reason is the majority of Pele’s games were played in the Brazilian League.
When watching a Pele compilation, however wonderful all his play is, one cannot help noticing a few defensive errors. Yet Maradona played in both the Spanish Primera Division and the Serie A.
In fact, in these very tough leagues, Maradona struck the zenith of his footballing genius.
Beginning as a Barcelona youngster, he progressed to his glory days at SSC Napoli before
a quieter spell in Seville after the drugs scandal.
Just talking ability-wise, whilst Pele had the better ball skill, flair and first touch, Maradona boasted a wide range of abilities that Pele was not as masterful at; a lethal free kick, inhuman strength, unbelievable finishing and could be said to be a better all-round player.
Remember how I said that Pele had mostly been playing in an easier league; the Brazilian. Yet both Pele and Maradona had their chances to prove their quality on the global stage: the World Cup.
Pele scored 12 goals in the World Cup, and nearly scored from inside his own half - his effort landed just wide.
Maradona’s World Cup career was very much a mixed bag; the low points being banned in 1994 for drugs and the infamous “Hand of God” goal, but Maradona more than made up for it with many stunning goals and assists (including the Goal of the Century against England and the Assist of the Century against Brazil).
Although Maradona’s World Cup career sank lower than Pele, he definitely rose higher.
So it's for these reasons that I believe Maradona is better. Although he played in much harder competitions than Pele, I believe he rose higher than him and, perhaps, anybody in history.
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