Diego Armando Maradona and Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele) are known to be the greatest soccer players of all time but there has always been a heated debate on who was the better player. I will touch on the different aspects of both players and let you decide for yourself.
Throughout his professional career, Pele won many trophies and medals, which included three World Cups, two South American club championships, two world club championships, and ten Brazil club titles. Pele scored 560 goals in 578 games playing for Brazil, Santos, New York Cosmos. If you want to include his statistics for exhibitions and other non-professional matches it is claimed that Pele has scored as many as 1281 goals in 1363 games. During Maradona’s professional career he won only one World Cup, one Argentina club title, and two Italy club titles. During this time he scored 345 goals in 681 games playing for Argentina, Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Newell’s Old Boys, Barcelona, Napoli, and Sevilla.
Though Pele scored more goals than Maradona, many of them were against considerably weaker opponents where as Maradona scored most of his goals in European leagues against stronger opponents. Despite that, Pele still managed to be accomplish an amazing feat by scoring 77 goals in 92 games with Brazil (12 in World Cups) compared to Maradona’s 34 goals in 91 games with Argentina (8 in World Cups).
When Pele played for Brazil in the 1970 World Cup it was considered he was on the greatest football team of all time playing with the likes of Jairzinho, Tostao, and Carlos Alberto. Brazil could have probably won this World Cup without Pele. Maradona played for mediocre teams such as Napoli and Argentina where he was the only great player on the team and still managed to win 2 club titles and a World Cup with them. I would consider Maradona a MVP because of the individual impact he had on the teams he played for. If Pele played for Argentina in 1986, would they have won the World Cup?
I also feel that if Maradona had not become a drug abuser he would have become a much better player, which Maradona personally admitted. His cocaine addiction became a problem in the early 1990’s, lowering his playing ability and eventually kept him out for most of the 1994 World Cup. If Maradona didn’t involved with drugs he might have been unanimously considered as the greatest soccer player of all time.
One important thing to take note of is that when Pele burst onto the soccer scene in 1956 he showed the skill, technique, power, and accuracy that had never seen before. Pele quickly became a legend in the sport. Everyone wanted to see him play and soccer became increasingly popular as a result in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Maybe if there was no Pele there wouldn’t have been Maradona or any of the other fantastic players we have today.
Now I have left the decision up to you – Pele or Maradona?