When you get old, and your legacy, no matter how great and illustrious it is, starts fading in people’s minds, you have to speak up once in a while, don’t let them forget you. Pele does that every once in a while. When you’re 70, and your place on top of the “greatest of all time” debate is far from the consensus it used to be ages ago, you gotta speak up and stir some controversies by talking about the hottest matters. Lionel Messi for example.
Like other writers on this site, the whole greatest player of all time is a matter of generations and decades. Pele was the greatest during the 60’s, Cruyff in the 70’s, Maradona in the 80’s and later on it kinda got mixed up. Ronaldo, Zidane, Rivaldo and later on Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. You can’t compare Messi to Di Stefano, not their statistics and not the whole level of play around them. That is why Pele’s latest BS is such idiotic dribble.
“Messi needs to score at least as much as I did to be considered the greatest ever.” Pele was in celebratory mood this week, watching Santos win the Libertadores Cup for the first time since his days, nearly 50 years apart from the last time. Pele ran on to the pitch along with the Santon manager and players, craving for one more moment in the spotlight. People like him can’t get enough of it. He also started the psychological war between Brazil and Argentina for the Copa America. “Neymar has great talent. I hope Neymar doesn’t end up like Messi, who plays so well for his club but does nothing for his country.”
When I was a kid, around the age of 6, I asked my dad who’s the best player he ever saw. My dad was born in the late 40’s, in the former Soviet Union. He told me Puskas and Pele. I asked him about Maradona – He said no. He never liked him, and so did I. Only when I got a little older and gotten to see more matches from the old days while also getting to see Maradona’s stuff during his Napoli years did I understand that despite the fact that Pele scored over 1200 goals in his career, and who knows, maybe it’s true.
Comparing Neymar to Messi is a joke. Taking away Messi’s incredible achievements in the Spanish league and the Champions League because he hasn’t won the World Cup yet is ridiculous. Even if it is part of the most talented side ever assembled. To talk of legacy when he’s barely 24 is also not so serious, but when he’s been in the spotlight since the age of 17, you kind of forget how young he still is.
The whole Maradona – Pele thing has gotten old years ago. Older people still regard Pele as the greatest ever, and if you’re taking the Brazilian side I’m sure you’re with him. If your prefer Argentina and born from 1970 and onward, I won’t be surprised that Maradona is your number one, with all his faults as a person. He has a huge ego as well, he stirs controversy as well, but I don’t see it as a pathetic attempt to stay relevant like Pele in his recent comments. You used to be great, a legend. You’ll always be. Be satisfied with that and don’t try to shoot any attempt to take your “crown”, even if he’s Argentinian.