(Image source from: happyghana.com)
Argentine legend Diego Maradona was a better footballer than the country's modern-day idol Lionel Messi, according to Pele.
Barcelona forward Messi - a five-time winner of the Balon d'Or, awarded to the world's best player - is not even rated in the top three of football's greatest players by the 78-year-old Brazilian.
"As far as I'm concerned, Maradona was one of the best players ever," Pele said on Wednesday in an interview with the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. "If you ask me, 'Was he better than Messi?' Yes, he was. Much better. (Franz) Beckenbauer, (Johan) Cruyff is also better. They're also excellent players."
Pele and Maradona have not always seen eye to eye, but Pele said the pair now enjoy a "perfect" relationship. The lone man to triumph the World Cup three times, Pele is extensively considered as the best footballer of all time. In late years he has suffered a series of health issues, yet said he is at present feeling 100 percent.
"I don't feel any more pain, but I feel some weakness. I had some good legs and look how they are now," the former Santos and New York Cosmos player said, Xinhua reported.
Pele as well revealed that he spoke to compatriot Neymar regarding the Paris Saint-Germain forward's penchant going to ground when tackled.
'It's difficult to defend Neymar for all the things he does beyond playing football. I talked with him, I told him that in soccer, he's got it. He had bad luck because the team didn't win the World Cup and he was branded," Pele said. "I was with him twice in Europe. We talked and I told him: "In soccer, God gave you a gift, but what you did is what made it difficult."
By Sowmya Sangam