Maradona vs Pele: A Comparison of Two Football Legends

Maradona vs Pele – Who is The Best Footballer Ever? Prior to the phrase “Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo“, Pele vs Diego Maradona were the two players that dominated the conversation about the best player of all time.

Football fans, sportswriters, and even other players frequently find themselves engaged in the Maradona vs Pele debate, trying to settle the score once and for all. In this Maradona vs Pele comparison, we’ll take an in-depth look at their skills, career success, and overall influence on the beautiful game.

Maradona vs Pele

Maradona vs Pele: Comparison Chart

Diego MaradonaPelé
Playing PositionSupporting striker, attacking Midfielder, or StrikerForward, Attacking Midfielder, or Striker
Date of birthOctober 30, 1960October 23, 1940
Total goals scored356With 1281 goals in 1363 games, including unofficial friendlies and tour games, Pelé holds the record for most league goals scored in history.
Total Matches played6791363
Full NameDiego Armando MaradonaEdson Arantes do Nascimento
Place of BirthVilla Fiorito, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaTrês Corações, Brazil
Height1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Recognition / AwardsMaradona received several honors, including the “Honorific Golden Ball” for his contributions to European football, the “Domingo Faustino Sarmiento” lifetime achievement award from the Argentine Senate, and the FIFA award for Player of the Century (People’s Choice, 2000).Pele was awarded the titles of “Athlete of the Century” (1999), “FIFA Golden Ball” for services to world football (FIFA and France Football 2014), “Guinness World Records” for Most Goals, and “Athlete of the Century” (experts’ choice, 2000).
Retirement Year19971977
National TeamArgentina. 34 goals in 91 appearances.Brazil. 77 goals in 92 appearances
Youth ClubsArgentinos JuniorsBauru AC
After retirementSuffered from ill health and underwent a stomach-stapling operation which helped control his weight gain. He became an Argentine TV personality after beating his cocaine addiction.Has been an ambassador for football and has also undertaken various acting roles (featured in ten films)and commercial ventures
Achievements after retirementBecame the coach of Argentina in the 2010 FIFA world cup.Awarded Brazil’s Gold Medal for extraordinary contributions to sport in 1995, named a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for ecology and the environment, and designated a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
International titlesFIFA World Cup (1986), Copa UEFA (1988-89)Football World Cup (1958, 1962, 1970) Intercontinental Cup (1962, 1963), Copa Libertadores (1962, 1963), and Intercontinental Supercup (1968)

Pele vs Maradona goals

Maradona vs Pele goals

Club goals

It is impossible to draw an exact comparison because of the conflicting reports regarding Pele’s goal total, some of which include goals from non-competitive games, but all of the Brazilian’s totals still outnumber Maradona’s.

Pele scored almost 700 club goals, compared to Maradona’s over 300. Any comparison analysis, however, must take into account the many factors, such as the positions and clubs represented.

Diego Maradona was an active midfielder who dropped deep into his own half to start attacks, unlike Edson Arantes do Nascimento who was a skilled striker.

International goals

Compared to Diego Maradona for Argentina, Pele has scored far more goals for Brazil. During his time playing for his country, the Brazilian scored 77 goals, while Maradona only managed 34 goals.

Given that both players played about the same number of games, Pele’s goal-scoring ability is highlighted. The Brazilian had a record of 0.84 goals per game compared to Maradona’s 0.37.

Naturally, it should be emphasized once more that Pele and Maradona played in different positions, with Pele frequently used in a more advanced position and Maradona being much more of a typical playmaker.


Who has won more trophies?

In terms of championships won, Pele outplayed Maradona.

The Brazilian won three World Cups, two Copa Libertadores with Santos, two Intercontinental Cups, and one Intercontinental Supercup in addition to the Copa Libertadores. Besides, with Santos, he won six Brasileiro championships, and with New York Cosmos, he won the NASL Bowl. Pele also holds four titles from the Torneio Rio-Sao Paulo and ten titles from the Campeonato Paulista.

While Diego Maradona had some success in Argentina, Spain, and Italy, his most fruitful years were spent in Napoli, where he won two Serie A championships, a Coppa Italia, a Supercoppa Italiana, and the UEFA Cup. The Argentine won the Supercopa de Espana, Copa del Rey, and Liga at Barcelona while also taking home the Primera Division Metropolitano at Boca. Maradona also won the FIFA World Youth Championship, which is the equivalent of the World Cup for young players.

Maradona vs Pele: World Cup Performances

The World Cup provides a global stage where legends are born, and both Maradona and Pele seized their opportunities in these tournaments. World Cup goals remain an essential metric in any Maradona vs Pele comparison.

Pele’s remarkable achievement of being the only player to win three FIFA World Cups is a testament to his remarkable consistency and impact on the global stage. In contrast, Maradona’s infamous “Hand of God” and “Goal of the Century” in the quarter-final match against England in the 1986 World Cup epitomize his magical and controversial presence on the field.

Despite Pele’s impressive record, Maradona’s performances, particularly in 1986, where he virtually single-handedly steered Argentina to the title, often tip the scale in the Maradona vs Pele debate for many football enthusiasts.

Pele vs Maradona: Skills and Influence

Maradona vs Pele skills

When comparing Maradona vs Pele, it’s vital to consider not just stats but their unique skills and influence on football.

Pele was a prolific striker with extraordinary speed, strength, and scoring ability. He held the top scorer prediction for several years. And his famous “bicycle kick” is still revered today. He was renowned for his sportsmanship and became an ambassador for football and Brazil.

Some believe Pele to be the greatest footballer. He is a proficient ball header and scores with both feet. Moreover, he has technical skills and is physically fit. In the other two, he was virtually unstoppable thanks to his exceptional scoring, athleticism, and dribbling talents. Pele took over and scored significant goals.

On the other hand, Maradona was a wizard with the ball, possessing unparalleled dribbling skills. His vision, creativity, and leadership were awe-inspiring, even though his career was often marred by controversy. His influence extended beyond the pitch, with his life story often depicted as a fight against poverty and adversity.

The heritage of the Argentine is universal. It extends to cities and nations in addition to the football field. In addition, Maradona’s left foot is a magic wand. With it, he ruined opponents’ plans. He had excellent ball control, passing, vision, and dribbling abilities. Additionally, his team benefited greatly from his leadership abilities.


The Maradona vs Pele debate is an ageless one, fueled by their extraordinary contributions and their contrasting styles and personalities. The two share major similarities: they are both FIFA World Cup champions, top footballers of their era, and left an unparalleled legacy. Their stories are intertwined with football’s history and reflect the sport’s power to inspire and captivate.

While it is virtually impossible to settle the Maradona vs Pele debate definitively, one thing is clear: both players have etched their names in golden letters in the annals of football. They have enriched our overall knowledge of the game and set benchmarks for future generations.

So, whether you’re a fan of the English Premier League, passionate about African teams, or simply a lover of football, the Maradona vs Pele debate is a fascinating journey through football history. Intrigued? Dive deeper into the world of sports comparison at SimilarSport, and immerse yourself in the rich world of football history, trivia, and captivating stories.

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