The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

Maradona vs. Pele


Those who raised football the most in the 20th century were divided by a biblical fight full of suspicion, ego and competitiveness, but also with their different profiles on their backs

Without notifying the leaders or his teammates from his first team, Argentinos Juniors, an 18-year-old Diego Maradona escaped to the Buenos Aires airport after a game against Huracán in April 1979: he had an appointment to meet the The next day, in Rio de Janeiro, to Pelé.

On the trip, he confided to his close friends the weakness he felt for O Rei, who had stopped playing in 1977: "I'm dying to meet him, I'll settle for him giving me five minutes and, if he gives me ten, I'm Gardel", they said. he said, referring to the mythical tango singer.

Indeed, after a few hours the Brazilian idol would not give too much time to his meeting with the young Argentine, but even so, Maradona was delighted: "Having met Pelé took the World Cup that I did not have", he said,

as if those minutes of talk replaced the pain for his absence in the World Cup won by Argentina the previous year.

“I knew that Pelé was a god as a player.

Now that I have met him, I know that he is also as a person, ”he added.

More information

Pelé, 'O Rei' of football, dies at the age of 82

But that admiration of the Argentine, and a certain disinterest of the Brazilian – who, it is true, saw how all the time there was talk of a “new Pelé” without any new star flying to his height – would break after a few years.

The sparks ignited before the World Cup that would canonize Maradona, the one from Mexico '86. Pelé, 45 years old and retired nine years ago, made himself available to the coach of the Brazilian team to play in the World Cup.

Already with volcanic lava on his tongue, the Argentine recommended, through the media, that he visit a psychiatrist, to which Pelé – the wounded god – counterattacked: “It is the last great opportunity for Diego to show that he is the best.

In Spain 82 it was a disaster.

The blows hurt, but you have to have class to avoid them.

Nothing could be further from the truth: in that same Mexico 86,

Now it sounds curious, but Maradona first tried to be diplomatic, perhaps out of respect for the Brazilian until then incomparable, and launched phrases that would soon be confetti: "I don't want to be King Pelé, there was only one Pelé and the rest of us came in the second line", or "I appreciate the praise, but certain comparisons, like the ones made to me with Pelé, seemed exaggerated."

However, it was a matter of time before, in the absence of games against each other, the rivalry was fueled by statements that from both sides included low blows, with Pelé pointing to Maradona's drug addiction and with the Argentine responding with alleged sexual perversions of the Brazilian –in keeping with the prevailing homophobia in football–, his closeness to power and more than one case of corruption.

Those who elevated soccer the most in the 20th century – one at the start of satellite match broadcasts, the other with the advent of color soccer around the world – were torn apart by a biblical fight brimming with suspicion, ego and competitiveness, but also with their different profiles in tow: Pelé much more equidistant in politics, always close to the corporate world, and Maradona –even with his multiple contradictions– as a spokesman for his neighborhood origin and proletarian class.

It is also true that there were cordial and even affectionate reunions, like in 2005, when Pelé visited Maradona on his television show in Buenos Aires, or like in 2016, when a microphone turned on in a commercial engagement revealed a criticism of Maradona. to the king of the 21st century, Lionel Messi, but the shorts never went away.

Perhaps the most remembered is in a FIFA vote in 2000, when Maradona won the election for the best player of the 20th century by popular vote and Joseph Blatter, in order not to leave a man of the house like the Brazilian in a bad light, made him share first place with Pelé.

“When I hugged Pelé in Rome –said Diego– I almost asked him what he felt for having finished second, but it would have been for quilombo”.

A few days later, the Argentinian would redouble the anger beyond the death of both, as if the rivalry for the soccer throne were eternal: "If I died and you could play soccer in heaven, I wouldn't want to do it with Pelé ”.


The 5 key moments in the life of Pelé|El País

You can follow EL PAÍS Deportes on




, or sign up here to receive

our weekly newsletter


Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits

Keep reading

I'm already a subscriber

Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2022-12-30

You may like

News/Politics 2023-01-05T22:00:18.316Z
News/Politics 2022-12-29T19:45:26.427Z

Trends 24h


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.