Maradona may not have as good statistics as Pele in terms of goals, but what makes him great is the entertainment factor of his football, Maradona had amazing technique, he had a great first touch, could dribble like no other, and was a great finisher.
Pele played almost exclusively in the Brazilian league, and although this was one of the best at the time it was not known for having great defences.
Maradona on the other hand played in Argentina, Spain, and Italy, and succeeded against all different types of football.
The thing that most sets them apart is that Maradona won the World Cup almost single-handedly, scoring some of the greatest and most memorable goals in football history.
While Pele and Maradona have made significant contributions to football, there is a big difference in their behavior off the field.
Pele has behaved as an example of what a footballer should be. His behavior off and on the field are those of a professional sports person who is calm, cool, collected, and down to earth.
Maradona has disgraced the world of football with his use of drugs, arrogant behavior, and mistreatment of people around him, including journalists. His creation of a church is a symbol of how some people do not know how to handle success.
Callum D' Souza:
Pele was just so talented. His speed, vision, passing, he was blessed with just the most amazing array of skill.
Pele is the only footballer to win three World Cups, and has scored over 1,000 goals in his career. He was an extremely revolutionary player, more so than Diego Maradona.
Because Maradona was a better player overall. Maradona had better touch, and better passing skills than Pele. The only weakness of Maradona would be his over dependency on his left foot. But that same foot was magical. The 1986 World Cup was a one-man show, and part of the reason why I rate Maradona above Pele. Pele’s reluctance to leave Santos didn’t help either. Pele worked wonders in a Brazil team which was filled with stars. But Argentina’s 1986 World Cup winning side didn’t have many stars. It was all dependent on Maradona. And he passed that test with flying colours.
Maxx G :
Pele is the national hero of Brazil and a prolific scorer who scored 77 goals in 92 caps for Brazil. On the other hand, Maradona has less goals in his score list. However, if you really see, then Pele had a good team with him for Brazil while winning the World Cup. But Diego won the World Cup for Argentina on his own. If you ask that would Argentina have won the 1986 World Cup if Pele was there in-place of Maradona? The answer is NO.
And to add, few have the guts and talent to create the world famous HAND OF GOD, you must be a genius and Maradona was.
As legend says there are only two players in history who have been credited to winning the World Cup almost completely by their own efforts. Garrincha in 1962 and Maradona in 1986.
However, because of his exploits at all levels right from the South American club to European glory, I consider Maradona above the Brazilian.
Also, to add to that Maradona not only did the magic with the national team but also with Napoli, an Italian club which reached unprecedented heights under the leadership of the Argentine talisman.
Now as compared to Pele, well, Maradona still reigns supreme in my opinion for the simple reason that he never played around as great a national side as Brazil, nor did he do the same whilst at Napoli, and he still was able to give a unique facelift to both.
Another reason also would be that he reigned supreme right from his South American Club play to the European counterparts, whereas Pele finished his career without any variety and just ruled the roost in Brazil, with Santos and then sometime with the New York Cosmos.
Diego Maradona is the greatest because he single-handedly led his country to their only World Cup in 1986. Garrincha shares similar honours with him, but still Maradona was like God's gift to enthrall football lovers all over the world for time immemorial. His skills with the ball was just mesmerising, and to date unmatched. Moreover, he proved himself successful over three countries and that further underlines his supremacy over Pele.