They never met on a court, but they did so several times in the media with praise and cross statements.
The month of October seems to be the Christmas of football. Two control cases are enough. On Friday 23, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele, turned 80 years old. Twenty years and a week after the birth of King In the city of Tres Corazones in the State of Minas Gerais, Diego Armando Maradona was born in the Evita Polyclinic of Lanús, who will turn 60 this Friday. A couple of historical dates could be added to justify October: a 22 was born César Luis Menotti (82 years ago), a 20 Diego made his debut in Primera (44 years) and a 16 made his official debut at Barcelona Lionel Messi (16 years ).
Referents of different generations, Pelé and Diego never clashed on a soccer field. When Diego was born in 1960, King he had already been world champion with 17 years. When Pelé retired in 1977, Fluff He had barely been in First a year. They already saw him as the successor. Away from the playing field, the two South American stars played many media matches. Some together, others faced.
The first time they played together was in a report that the magazine achieved The graphic, on April 9, 1979. “And Maradona fulfilled his dream”, was the title of the note made by Guillermo Blanco. Diego traveled to Rio de Janeiro with the journalist and photographer (Ricardo Alfieri -father-) of the magazine, Jorge Cyterszpiler (his representative at the time) and Don Diego, his father. In that first match, there was mutual praise.
Maradona, who was 18 years old, confessed to Pelé that he had gone to see him, at the age of 13, at the Huracán field. Pelé, who was at 38, recalled that this had been his last game in Argentina. O Rei promised to go see him play in Buenos Aires, gave him various tips and even suggested going to play Cosmos. “Would you like to go play in the United States? No, it’s a joke to make you laugh. You are still very young. You still have a lot to give. There is very good money there. They pay for twelve months and you only play five. But wait, wait, there is a lot of time ahead ”.
Diego, excited, said after the match: “I knew I was a god as a player; now it is also as a person. It’s not Pele for a reason. How many kids like me will want to see it, touch it, change a few words, and I had the privilege that it even gave me advice. I saw that Pelé was coming towards me and I couldn’t believe it ”.
After that historic encounter, there were cross statements. The first, in 1982, in the middle of the World Cup in Spain. Pele wrote columns in Clarion. “You can play a much more satisfying World Cup if you learn from the mistakes of this one. Not losing control is vital”He wrote after the elimination against Brazil. But also King commented for other media around the world. Something reached Diego’s ears, who angrily commented: “Pelé was my idol as a footballer, but as a commentator he has more quilombos than me in his head”.
For the 86 World Cup, Pelé also signed columns in Clarion. Before the final, he praised Diego for over Platini, Rummenigge, Zico and others: “Maradona was stronger than all of them. Now his first grand finale awaits him. The world can be yours”. After the consecration in Mexico and when world football already had a new king, Maradona once again surrendered at the feet of Pelé: “I appreciate the praise, but certain comparisons, such as those made to me with Pelé, seemed exaggerated.”
The tension increased in the 90s, when Diego had an open confrontation with FIFA and Pelé was part of the image of the international entity. “Pelé is a FIFA puppet and a Havelange runner,” Diego fired in 1991. One of Pelé’s hardest counterattacks happened in May 2000, when he participated in a seminar organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). “I’m really sorry, Maradona was a fantastic player, but he got into drugs and lost the opportunity to show that he was an example for young people. It has been a bad example … A shame !.
Diego’s response went to the jugular and spoke about the Brazilian’s first sexual experience: “Pele debuted with a kid“, Shooting. The following year, he continued with the theme: “When Pelé recognizes that he debuted with a young man, I will go out and say whether or not I continue to use drugs.”
Also in 2000, Diego came to confess “If I died and you could play soccer in heaven, I wouldn’t want to do it with Pelé”And FIFA’s choice of the player of the century again opened a rift. People voted for Diego, FIFA chose Pelé and they had to share the award. “When I hugged Pelé in Rome, I almost asked him how he felt about coming second, but it would have been a quilombo,” Maradona commented later.
But there was a day when they played together again, hugged and laughed for the cameras. It was in 2005, in The Night of the 10. The first program of that cycle was with Pelé as the star guest of a conductor Diego who broke it as much as in the 86 World Cup. It was difficult to convince the Brazilian. The producer told Coco fernandez that a conversation on the phone between the two relaxed tensions: “Hello, dear Negro, how are you? Are you coming? I want to see you!’. With that, everything came loose. And Diego and Pelé began to talk in a very funny and friendly way ”.
The program was broadcast on August 7, 2005. At the end of the talk, Diego invited him to play a head: “If you allow me to tute you in, which is not the same as whoring, I am going to ask you to make a head.” They were magical seconds.
As the years passed, the accolades left the grudges behind. In June 2016 they met at an event for a watch brand. Diego hugged Pelé and told him: “No more fights.”
They were also seen at the end of 2017, in the draw for the World Cup in Russia. A year later, Pelé, in a long report published by the newspaper NewspaperHe stated: “For me, Maradona was one of the best there was. You can ask me if he was better than Messi. And it was, of course. Better”.
On Friday Pelé turned 80 years old. Through his Instagram account (@maradona), Diego published a photo of the two smiling, precisely one from the 2006 meeting in which they signed peace, and wrote: “I want to join this universal tribute, very happy 80 years of life Rey @ Pelé !!!! ”.
The post had 406,520 likes. One of them was Pele’s, who replied: “Maradona, my friend, I am very happy to receive your message. I hope you are well and see you soon. Beware. Thank you!”.