Pele Vs Maradona: Who Was Better?

The debate between Pele and Maradona is divisive. It’s a debate between two of football’s most admired players. Only one line makes a difference in a superiority competition between two powerful people. It’s also worth noting that both players were National Team All-Stars.

We’ll look at their individual and team accomplishments, as well as their overall impact on the game of football. Finally, we’ll give our final verdict on Pele vs. Maradona.

Pele v Maradona
The Two Good Friends Pele (right) Maradona (left)


Many consider Pele to be one of the greatest footballers of all time. His position is bolstered by his FIFA Player of the Century and Athlete of the Century awards, both of which he received in 1999. Although he shares the latter with Maradona, this does not diminish his ability as a player.

To some, Pele was a proper footballer, who was able to find the back of the net with both feet. At the same time, he was also good in the air since he was athletic, strong and technically gifted when it comes to ball control.

An Overview of Pele’s Career

He made his debut for the domestic team, Santos FC, at the age of 15 in 1956, when the Brazilian league was one of the greatest in the world. He made his Brazilian national team debut a year later. In 1958, he finally made his FIFA World Cup debut.  He was one of the tournament’s youngest players, making his debut, scoring a goal, and lifting the trophy.

Following that, his stock soared to the point where he was dubbed a “national treasure” to ward off the advances of clubs from outside Brazil. During his successful career, he scored goals for fun and won top scorers awards.  He also made appearances on the largest stages.

Pele was a very important player for Santos FC, his role was very pivotal in the Brazilian league during the 60s.

He was instrumental in the club’s international success, notably the Copa Libertadores. He set a club record with 643 goals, the most ever scored by a single player. Lionel Messi, on the other hand, now holds the record.

Between 1958 and 1970, he was a member of the national team that won three of the four FIFA World Cups. Even though he only played two matches in one of the tournaments.

He was nearly unstoppable in the other two, displaying rare scoring abilities, athleticism, and dribbling skills.

Pele was a decisive player who scored important goals. He was one of those players, for instance, was involved in half of Brazil’s goals during their 1970 FIFA World Cup victory. In the 1958 win, he also scored six goals in four games. “A goal machine indeed”

Pele had cemented his spot as one of the greatest players in football history by the time he retired. The New York Cosmos, the team he played for near the end of his career, retired his number 10 shirt.

Let’s look at Pele’s accomplishments as a player now. In the discussion between Pele and Maradona, this is an important point to consider. 

Pele’s Most Important Achievements

  • 3 FIFA World Cup titles {1958,1962, 1970}
  • 1958 FIFA World Cup Best Young Player
  • 1970 FIFA World Cup Best Player
  • FIFA Player of the Century {2000}
  • 6 Brasileiro Serie A titles {1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968}
  • 2 Copa Libertadores {1962, 1963}
  • 2 Intercontinental Cups {1962, 1963}
  • 11 Campeonato Paulista Top Scorers’ award {1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1969, 1973}
  • 2 Intercontinental Cup Top Scorers’ award {1962, 1963}
  • 3 Brasileiro Serie A Top Scorers’ award {1961, 1963, 1964}
  • Copa Libertadores Top Scorer {1965}

Diego Armando Maradona

Football fans revere Maradona, like Pele. The legacy of the Argentine reaches far and wide. It extends to cities and nations beyond the football field.

The left foot of Maradona was a magical wand. He wreaked havoc on opponents with it. He was gifted with excellent vision, passing, ball control, and dribbling abilities.

His leadership qualities also had a significant impact on his comrades. Opponents targeted him for “special treatment,” with some going too far. It’s no surprise that he’s known as “The Golden Boy.”

Overview of Maradona’s Career

Unlike Pele, Maradona played for a variety of clubs throughout his 20-year professional career. Before joining Boca Juniors in Argentina, he began his career with Argentino Juniors. He played with the former for five years and scored over 100 goals.

Maradona won his sole domestic title in Argentina after switching to the latter. Boca Junior won the Argentine Primera Division in 1981 with his assistance.

His performances won him a world-record transfer to Barcelona. His time with the club, however, was not as fruitful as many had hoped. This can be attributable to several factors, including injuries, illness, and controversial incidents on the field.

Maradona World Cup Summary & More

He also replicated his Napoli performances with the Argentine national squad.  Maradona almost single-handedly led Argentina to victory in the 1986 FIFA World Cup. He was involved in ten of Argentina’s 14 goals at the tournament.

Perhaps the quarter-final encounter against England, in which he scored twice, summed up Maradona’s football career.

Even though the first goal enraged the English players, the second was a work of art. Before putting the ball in the back of the net, he took numerous players to task, including the goalkeeper. The goal was voted the goal of the century by FIFA in 2002.

Napoli’s stadium was renamed The Stadio Diego Armando Maradona as if that wasn’t enough.


Now it’s time to look at Maradona’s professional accomplishments. This is one of the primary causes for the debate between Pele and Maradona in the first place.

Maradon Most Important Career Achievements

  • 1986 FIFA World Cup trophy
  • 1979 FIFA World Youth Championship
  • 2 Italian Serie A 1987, 1990.
  • UEFA Cup 1989
  • Coppa Italia 1987
  • Copa del Rey 1983
  • Argentine Primera Division 1981
  • Argentine Primera Division Top Scorer 1978, 1979, 1980
  • FIFA World Youth Championship Best Player 1979
  • FIFA World Cup Best Player 1986
  • Italian Football Hall of Fame 2014
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team 1986 & 1990
  • FIFA Player of the Century 2000

Who was Better? – Pele vs Maradona

The question of who is better, Pele or Maradona, is not easy to answer. Because of both players’ legacies, it is unlikely to happen.

Pele has more FIFA World Cup trophies than Maradona, according to some fans. Others who value a player’s influence choose Maradona as a result of his impact at Napoli and the 1986 FIFA World Cup.

Some have criticized Pele’s decision to spend the majority of his career with Santos, while others believe Maradona’s true success occurred only in one of the many teams for which he played.

When we look at both players’ overall personal and team accomplishments, though, Pele wins out over Maradona.

Whatever your view, these individuals will always be remembered as two of the best players in football history.