PELE VS MARADONA – Who is better?

Before Messi vs Ronaldo became the shining stars in football history, The millennium generation had Pele vs Maradona. They two were great icons of sports and followed by many legends of the game.

An Inspiration to Current generating of Superstars. Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo considering Pele as their hero, on the other side 7th-time ballon d’Or winner still thinks Maradona is way ahead of him and he can never match his legacy. That’s the impact these two icons have left for football fans.

However, Both players never play in the same era but still, there’s come a debate over PELE VS MARADONA: who is best?

Their successful careers make us wonder who is the more extraordinary star. It will be difficult to answer this question precisely because the two are not competing simultaneously. We can rely on statistics to analyze to have a comprehensive perspective.

PELE VS MARADONA – Who is best?

They are great monuments and once dominated during their time in the competition. Both have impressive achievements and touched the prestigious World Cup. The following criteria are set to answer the debate. The criteria are:

  • Club Goals
  • International Games Stats
  • World Cup stats
  • Trophies Comparsion
  • Individual Awards

Pele Vs Maradona | Club Goals

Pele’s claim of 1200+ goals is rattled by FIFA as they officially count 758 goals. There’s an inaccurate goal tally of Pele. However, he is still miles ahead in terms of scoring goals. As the Brazilian had struck over 700 goals for the club. Meanwhile, Maradona only scored 300 goals.

However, to understand it better, both play at different positions and have different roles for the team. Pele played as a Striker for most of his carer. Meanwhile, Maradona played as a midfielder, RW, CF depending upon the team situation. He was played as an attacking midfielder with the task of falling deep into his own half to prepare for attacks. In contrast, Pele is an advanced forward.

More to the stats as Pele played in Brazil major half of his career and then moved to North America. Meanwhile, Maradona conquered Europe in his career and played for legendary clubs like Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Napoli, and Barcelona.


International caps9291
International goals7734
Goals per game0.840.37

Pele is ahead of Maradona in International Goal scoring as well. Brazilian was covered with a star-studded team at his time.

Pele has conceded a total of 77 times d in 92 matches during his international career. Maradona only scored 34 goals for his national team. Both Pele and Maradona have played roughly the same number of matches, but their scoring rate differs. It’s easy to see why Pele has a nickname: “The King.”

However, again their position also dramatically affects their results. While Pele is assigned to key attacking positions, Diego Maradona is the traditional type of player.


Goals per game0.860.38

Both Pele and Maradona played the same number of Fifa World Cup (4), and the Argentina star had more appearances compared with Pele 14. Pele had been affected by injuries. Injuries affected Pele’s form in 1966, so the numbers here are not entirely indicative of his ability.

However, The King has struck the most number of goals in less number of games. In 14 matches, Pele scored 12 goals. Out of 12, two were decisive goals scored in 1958 and 1970 World Cup Finals.

On the other side, The “Golden Boy” scored a total of 8 goals in the 21 matches he participated in at the World Cup. His memorable period was in 1986, with four goals contributing to Argentina’s title including the famous “Hand of God.”

Trophies Comparsion

Titles Pele Maradona
World Cup31
Intercontinental Cup20
Copa Libertadores20
Intercontinental Supercup10
UEFA Cup01
National League73
National Cup05
FIFA World Youth Championship01

Pele | Pele won this round as well. With three World Cups in his bag, he is the most decorative star of this game. No player has won three world cups yet. Pele won again in this respect. He has enjoyed a successful career in all areas of club and country.

This best footballer has twice won the Copa Libertadores title with Santos FC. He is also the owner of two Intercontinental Cups and an Intercontinental Supercup. While playing football in the Brazilian League, Pele also won six Brasileiro titles.

Maradona | At the same time, He enjoyed his success in Argentina, Italy, and Spain. His most successful playing period was with Napoli. At Napoli, he won a Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana, two Serie A championships, and the UEFA Cup

For Barcelona, The “Golden Boy” won the Copa de la Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the Supercopa de Espana. He was also the owner of the Argentine Primera Division Metropolitano while wearing the Boca jersey. Moreover, Diego Maradona is also the FIFA World Youth Championship winner. This tournament is a youth equivalent of the World Cup.


World Cup Golden Ball11
FIFA Player of the Century11
Ballon d’Or11
South American Footballer of the Year02
National League top scorer awards36
South American Championship (Copa America) Best Player10

Both Pele and Maradona are decorated with Individual Awards. The duo in terms of individual awards is neck to neck. Both have won the World Cup Golden Ball title. In 2000, they shared the FIFA Player of the Century award.

They received an honorary Ballon d’Or from France Football. In 2016, Pele was considered the alternate winner for seven Ballon d’Or,  whereas Maradona was the ‘alternative winner’ twice.

Maradona was twice named the South American Footballer of the Year and Pele never had the honor because the award only began in the 1970s.

As well as winning the Golden Ball in 1970, Pele was named the best player in the old South American Championship (now Copa America) in 1959.

Over years, Both players have been awarded a host of unofficial individual awards and magazine accolades over the years.


Based on the stats and trophies it’s easy to say that Pele has a superior hand over Maradona. Although, we cannot deny the influence and extraordinary ability of Diego Maradona.

Moreover, Deciding who will be the greatest football player depends on the opinion of each individual. The majority select Maradona because they don’t have the opportunity to see Pele play football in real life and vice versa.

Football stars also have their fair share of opinions as The Great Leo Messi chose Diego Maradona, while Cristiano Ronaldo voted for Pele.

We have our say, but what about you? Who do You think is better Pele or Maradona? Let us know in the comment box.

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