Maradona or Pele?

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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El Diego

Who do YOU think is better:  Maradona or Pele?  This topic has been thrown around for years since the days of arguably the two greatest players in the history of soccer.  One is heralded as a god by his country, while the other is either loved or hated by his people.  Since I’m not a big soccer fan, the closest comparison I can make between these two in the sport that I enjoy, basketball, is a comparison between Jordan and Bird.  Who is better?  Maradona would be considered the Michael Jordan of soccer, while Larry Bird represents Pele. 

 

Personally, I would pick Jordan over Bird, but many Boston fans would disagree with me.

Pele
  In the same way, many people (mainly Argentines) would consider Maradona to be the better of the two, but many people (not only Brazilians) would argue that Pele was the more complete player.  In my opinion, I think Pele is the better player, but Maradona was more exciting to watch.  I know this contradicts my suggestion that Maradona is like Jordan, but like I mentioned before, I’m not the soccer expert.  Maradona’s bad boy image and flashy style on the field is what separates him from Pele.  They are on two different planes in those regards. 

 

To not take credit away from Pele though, both were considered to be “geniuses” with the soccer ball.  If you go to Brazil today, there are many who regard Pele with the highest esteem.  However, if you come to Argentina and mention Diego Maradona’s name, it’s like mentioning the name of their savior.

Pele on Maradona's Show -- La Noche de 10
  Maradona is the image that all Argentine boys look up to.  Who will replace El Diego?  This has been the question that spurs countless Argentine boys to enroll into local leagues since childhood and develop their game in “puppy football” and try and achieve the greatness that Maradona achieved and continues to live. 

 

Why is Maradona regarded so highly?  The answer lies mainly in the World Cup defeat of England in the 1986 World Cup.  It was a defeat of a nation that allowed El Diego to win the hearts of all the Argentines.  It was also his rebellious lifestyle, his humble background, his hard work to be the best, his downfalls and his ability to “always rise again” that sticks with the Argentine society.  Pele is also highly regarded, but Brazilian newspapers are not crazy about Pele.

my pick to win the '06 World Cup
  Brazilian society doesn’t hold Pele on an extremely high pedestal.  Why is that?  Pele also proved himself on the soccer field.  He also showed that he was a team player.  He won the hearts of the Brazilians when he cried after winning his first World Cup, but why is he not regarded by Brazilians the same way as Maradona is regarded in Argentina? 

 

Maybe one day we will fully understand.  If you go and ask a Brazilian the question of who is better, the obvious answer is Pele.  The opposite goes with the Argentine population.  However, if you question a person who has seen both players play and the answer usually is:  “that’s a hard question to answer”.  Both were and will always be great players in my mind.  Both set their footprint on the game of soccer and influenced countless millions.  Both became famous throughout the world and their legend continues to this day.  So who really is better:  Maradona or Pele?  Maybe we should let the 2006 World Cup decide.  If the two players have really influenced their countries, only time will tell which person’s style has carried on in the years following them.  Let the countries prove themselves.  Who will win this year’s World Cup: Argentina or Brazil?  We shall soon see…

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El Diego
El Diego
Pele
Pele
Pele on Maradonas Show -- La Noch…
Pele on Maradona's Show -- La Noc…
my pick to win the 06 World Cup
my pick to win the '06 World Cup
1,237 km (769 miles) traveled
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