Pele came second behind me: Maradona
It seems Diego Maradona can never stop entertaining.
If it was his sublime skills on the soccer field that amazed millions worldwide during his playing days, he stills attracts a lot of attention as coach of Argentina and his controversial outbursts in the media every now and then.
Take for instance his recent outburst against the legendary Pele.
Maradona, who is regarded as one of the best footballers ever to grace the game along with Pele, believes he was better than the Brazilian. And he adds that it is not his solo claim, but the decision of the fans who voted him as the best football ever to have graced the game ahead of Pele!
"Oh well, what matters is that when the people voted, he came second behind me. Nobody can take that away from me. And there was another vote in Brazil in which he came second behind Ayrton Senna. He needs to stop coming second!" the Argentine told FIFA's official website www.FIFA.com.
Image: Diego Maradona
'Pele played in South America'
Maradona believes what titled the scales in his favour was that while Pele was content to ply his wares in South America; he played in the top leagues in Europe with great success.
"I played in European football for ten years while Pele played in South America. Yes he won World Cups and everything, but playing in Europe is something else entirely. Not that that makes me much better than him or anything like that. When I played, the man-markers in Spanish and Italian football were like hunting dogs. They never left me alone."
He also feels that Pele's success with Brazil, that saw him winning three World Cups, was also possible largely because he played in a team packed with some of the best players of their generation.
"Pele had Coutinho and Rivelino, who for me is one of the best ever, alongside him. And then there was Jairzinho, Clodoaldo, Gerson and Tostao. Those guys were brilliant," he said.
Maradona helped Argentina win the World Cup
There is no doubting Maradona's place among the greats in the sport.
He was by the far the best player of his generation and testimony to that was the way he single-handedly led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title with five goals in the tournament.
Pele scored over 1000 goals
Pele was a goal-scoring phenomenon and retired as the only player with over 1000 goals in professional football. He thrice won the World Cup with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970. His statistics are just mind-boggling:
According to the FIFA's website, Pele scored five goals in a game on no fewer than six occasions, managed 30 four-goal hauls and netted 92 hat-tricks. In one match against Botafogo in 1964, he hit the back of the net eight times. In total, the great man struck 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.
Who's your pick? Pele or Maradona
Still, how does one compare their greatness and rank them since they played in completely different eras?
Here is your chance to vote for the best football player of all time. Was it Pele or Maradona? Make your choice below
Image: Pele and Maradona