Pele or Maradona: Who is the greatest footballer ever? This has been a topic for heated arguments amongst soccer fans all over the world for many years.
Today, I also want to wade into the argument and take a closer look at the debate.
I must say that although these two players played in different generations, there is still some basis for comparing them.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento played soccer for twenty- one years. He was a great team player with great tactical awareness and magnificent technical abilities—he is credited with creating the kick that became known as the “banana” kick, and he was also the one who made the “bicycle kick” famous.
Pele’s Strongest Assets
He had a penchant for scoring goals and is in fact credited for being the highest scoring footballer in the world, having scored over 1,000 goals in his career, a feat no other footballer has been able to achieve. Edson scored 77 goals in 92 international matches.
He could control, pass, and shoot the football with both feet, which made him very versatile and helped him to score from different angles and from different position on the field.
Edson was a well-balanced footballer—he was good on the ground as well as in the air, and he was able to score goals with his feet as well as his head.
Emotional Intelligence and Achievements
Pele’s emotional intelligence was unsurpassed as he rarely lost his cool although he attracted many brutal tackles from tough defenders during his playing days. He was always calm and focused on the pitch, and he led a responsible and disciplined life off the pitch.
This maestro won three world cups, another feat no other footballer has been able to achieve.
Pele’s Weak Points
Edson, however, was not a quick player, and he was also not a good dribbler. He was more of a straight forward, direct player with a focus on scoring goals. Some critics argue he was not entertaining because of this quality.
The Best Dribbler Soccer Has Ever Seen
Diego Amando Maradona’s career spanned 24 years. He was more of an individualistic player. He is seen by many soccer pundits and fans as the greatest dribbler the game of soccer has ever seen. He dazzled crowds with his superior dribbling skills, and mesmerized defenders with this talent. In many games, he carried his team on his broad shoulders single-handedly and scored important goals that helped his team to win games.
Diego scored 34 international goals in 94 matches.
This amazing dribbler’s left foot was par excellence. His movements into space to receive balls, his ability to turn quickly and dribble at the same time with this foot, and his lightning quick dribbles which made him go past opponents as if they did not exist, are all great skills people use to remember Maradona.
The Wonder Goal
He will be forever remembered for the classic goal he scored against England in the 1986 World Cup, when he took the ball in his own half of the field, breezed past seven English players with lightning quick speed, kept his balance although he faced rough tackles, and run about 15 meters to score against Peter Shilton, one of England’s greatest goalkeepers.
A Great Inspirer
Maradona was a great inspirer and he motivated his teammates to win the 1986 World Cup, the only World Cup he won. He performed magic by inspiring Italian football club Napoli, not exactly the biggest club in Italy, to win two Italian league titles and a European Europa Cup, now known as the UEFA Cup. Since he left that club, they have not won the Italian league again, and they have been relegated from Serie A a number of times.
Maradona’s Weak Points
Diego was a temperamental player who had frequent arguments with referees and players of opposing teams. His years of cocaine abuse, which caused him disgrace at the USA’94 World Cup where he was expelled from the tournament because of drug abuse, is one of the low points of his career. The English will also never forgive him for the famous “hand of God” incident in which he used his hand to score a goal against England in the 1986 World Cup.
Maradona was not good in the air—he scored most of his goals with his feet. In addition, his right foot was almost “invisible.”
Considering the fact that Pele was a more balanced player who was good with his feet as well as with his head, a good team player who was good with both feet, and also because he scored over 1,000 goals in his career (something very difficult to do), in addition to his conduct on and off the pitch, and the fact that he won three World Cups, which is the ultimate prize for any footballer, I think Pele is the greatest footballer ever.
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