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"You play football with your heart not your feet"
August 10, 2010 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Pelé and Maradona: the glorious, ludicrous feud between soccer's two biggest stars. In the summer of 2000, FIFA, which does not understand computers, decided to celebrate the arrival of the millennium by hosting an online poll. Its object: to determine the best soccer player of the past 100 years, with the victor to be fêted at a gaudy banquet in Rome. The organizers of the vote assumed it would be won by Pelé, soccer's silky ambassador, who'd been cheerfully ensconced in his Greatest of All Time sinecure for 40 years.
posted by Fizz (31 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why ask the question when the answer is obvious? Not to mention predetermined.
posted by cmoj at 4:05 PM on August 10, 2010


see also.
posted by juv3nal at 4:09 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fuck, that was a great and hilarious article. Thanks Fizz.
posted by vito90 at 4:10 PM on August 10, 2010


Anytime Maradona is involved, one should pay attention. If only for the hilarious quotations that will result when he opens his mouth.
posted by Fizz at 4:12 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was very, very young, I thought that Maradona and Madonna were the same person, and didn't really understand how that would work at all.
posted by No-sword at 4:30 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


The only way to settle the feud is a one-on-one video game like this.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:32 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maradona is wonderful, but it's Pele hands down.
posted by oddman at 4:36 PM on August 10, 2010


How about a compromise:

Pele is the greatest soccer player ever. Maradona is the greatest volleyball player ever. Fair enough?
posted by The World Famous at 4:42 PM on August 10, 2010 [17 favorites]


Let Paul the Octopus decide.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 4:44 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sometimes, you play football with your hand.
posted by vidur at 4:47 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


A player who vows to run down the streets of his capital city naked to celebrate a World Cup championship is, by definition, greater than a player who does not so vow.

Pele is immortal. But Maradona is legendary.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:50 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I like George Best.
posted by grounded at 4:51 PM on August 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


I once saw a kid's magazine in the 1970's that asked who was better: The Beatles or The Bee Gees. That pretty much sums up the Pele vs Maradona choice. Sure, Maradona has a couple of hits [like the Bee Gees] but Pele changed the game for good [like the Beatles].
posted by Rashomon at 5:52 PM on August 10, 2010


"But a public campaign in Argentina swung the vote to Diego Maradona, Pelé's equally legendary but angrier and messier rival..."

I see what you did there.
posted by dammitjim at 6:03 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


They appear together in a Louis Vuitton ad that keeps hitting the back of my Economist, along with Zidane. And they seem... happy!
posted by disillusioned at 6:59 PM on August 10, 2010


The documentary Maradona by Kusturica is amusing. It's just nuts to see someone sing their own tribute songs at Karaoke in a bar.

The Church of Maradona is something to behold. This is their version of the Lord's Prayer:
1. Our Diego, who is on the pitches,
2. Hallowed be thy left foot, bring us your magic. Make your goals remembered on earth as in heaven,
3. Give us some magic every day, forgive the English, as we have forgiven the Napolitan Mafia,
4. don't let yourself get caught offside and free us from Havelange and Pelé.
You wonder if you can have soccer players who showed as much skill as Maradona or Pele now. The speed and skill of defenders has increased so that no one has the time on the ball that they were allowed.
posted by sien at 7:01 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I dunno, this is pretty darn impressive (check out 1:15)
posted by Dr.Enormous at 7:10 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was an excellent article. Thank you.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:16 PM on August 10, 2010


So did Mr. Splashypants win?
posted by mecran01 at 8:55 PM on August 10, 2010


This article was full of funny stuff like this:

When Maradona publishes a book, it provokes a meditation on sodomy from Martin Amis.

Thanks for posting it!
posted by KokuRyu at 9:11 PM on August 10, 2010


I like George Best.

As they say in Manchester: Pele good, Maradona better, George Best.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:55 PM on August 10, 2010


George Best has to win this legendary quote in an interview:

Q. "What happened to all the money you earned?"

A. "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered."
posted by MuffinMan at 1:05 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maradona is the more technically gifted player (ever see Pele do the Maradona turn or balance a ball on his head?) but that is probably because Argentina was, many years ago and for a long while, into the artistry side of football, which came back into fashion in Argentina in the 70s. Also related to developments in training and technique which came about after Pele had retired - or while he was playing in the US in the 70s!

Pele is the better in terms of team player, and as a winner.
posted by marienbad at 2:28 AM on August 11, 2010


You wonder if you can have soccer players who showed as much skill as Maradona or Pele now. The speed and skill of defenders has increased so that no one has the time on the ball that they were allowed.

The speed and skill of defenders may have increased, but modern players don't have to contend with the MMA-style extreme violence that existed in the past. Watch some videos of the 1966 World Cup (especially England v Uruguay and Portugal v Brazil) to get a flavour of what used to be the norm. It was almost impossible to take a ball into your feet with your back to goal without being scythed down from the behind by the defender, often with no free-kick and certainly no card. Challenges that would nowadays be considered assault were commonplace. Refereed by today's standards, most of the matches of that era would be five-a-side within the first half hour.
In contrast, in the modern game, one late tackle leaves a defender on tenterhooks for the rest of the match, a single mis-timed lunge away from a red card. It's a pretty difficult task to handle someone with the pace a trickery of a Ronaldo or Messi when you're afraid to tackle him.
posted by Jakey at 2:32 AM on August 11, 2010


Ronnie O'Brien has already been proven to be the best player of all time.
posted by kersplunk at 2:34 AM on August 11, 2010


I, not being the biggest football fan in history, have only a passing knowledge (that really felt more like fact only because I'd never questioned it), that Pelé was the greatest of all time. That said, a lot of Maradona's sympathizers have me scratching my head now.
Pelé's numbers (three World Cups, a staggering 1,280 goals in 1,363 games) dwarf Maradona's, and most of the games he played in his prime weren't filmed. The spectacular things we've seen him do in highlight reels, they argue, must be only the tip of the iceberg. Maradona partisans, on the other hand, tend to rely on cutting skepticism and a pose of sophistication: Pelé's goal-scoring tally can't be real (it includes exhibition games, and it's strangely hard to pin down an exact total), and numbers aren't everything, anyway. Maradona played against better defenses in Europe, while Pelé spent his whole career in Brazil and the United States. And Maradona won the World Cup not with superstar teammates like Garrincha and Jairzinho but with journeymen like Ricardo Giusti.
All good points.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:24 AM on August 11, 2010


It's absolutely Pele, but this thread needs a little Zola love all the same.
posted by Catseye at 4:32 AM on August 11, 2010


Watch some videos of the 1966 World Cup (especially England v Uruguay and Portugal v Brazil) to get a flavour of what used to be the norm

I'm not sure those would be the best examples of the norm, given that the officiating in these games is cited as "proof" of a conspiracy to get England through.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 5:23 AM on August 11, 2010


I get what you're saying about '66, but there are countless examples from that era. All the way from the 1962 Battle of Santiago to Celtic-Athletico Madrid 1974. You've got to admire anyone who would even try to play technical football in those times, never mind those that managed it with the panache of Pele or Best.
posted by Jakey at 6:32 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


By the same author, further musings on Pelé: Is Pelé Underrated?
He’s the player who wins, and smiles, and wins, and smiles, and is untroubled, and dances with confidence, and sits in on board meetings.
posted by WalterMitty at 6:52 AM on August 11, 2010


Maradona, for Argentina (at times) and Napoli was as close to a one-man team as it gets. Without him they were average, with him they were the best. No player has ever had that kind of influence at the highest level, the man would be the greatest even without taking into account his beginnings and his incredible off-pitch life - he was born to it.

I say that as an Englishman who hated for a long-time after the hand, but on reflection think our players are lucky to be able to say they were on the same pitch as this once-in-a-lifetime footballing genius.
posted by niceness at 9:53 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


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