Pele has named Lionel Messi at the top of his list of all-time best players, ahead of Diego Maradona, while saying he was almost brought to tears by Brazil’s World Cup defeat to Germany two years ago.
Brazilian legend Pele was in Milan promoting a film about his life and he spoke to La Gazzetta della Sport about his favourites from past and present, with Argentina and Barcelona star Messi topping that list.
“It’s very difficult because there have always been players who have been compared with me [as the best player ever],” Pele said. “First there was [Alfredo] Di Stefano, then [Johan] Cruyff, [Franz] Beckenbauer, Bobby Charlton, Maradona and now there is Messi. Leo is the one I like the most — he’s the most complete.
Pele also said it was “correct” to call Francesco Totti the Italian Pele, while admitting he has rarely suffered as much as he did seeing Brazil beaten 7-1 by Germany in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup in Belo Horizonte.
“The last World Cup was very sad,” said the 75-year-old. “We conceded seven goals to Germany. Losing is fine, but to concede seven goals is too much.
“I was nine years old when I first saw my father cry. It was after the Maracanazo — Brazil’s defeat to Uruguay in the final game of the 1950 World Cup. Two years ago, when we were humiliated 7-1 by Germany, my son almost saw me cry.
“It was a disaster without explanation for Brazil. Maybe we underestimated the game against Colombia. We’ve lost two World Cups played on home soil in Brazil — 1950 and 2014. Now we only have Neymar as a world-class player and that’s too little.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s Champions League final in Milan’s San Siro, Pele stated his preference for Real Madrid to win against Atletico Madrid, because of their style of play.
“Football is full of surprises and it’s hard to say who will win,” Pele said. “I’m sad to see how winning has become more important than the beauty of the game. I prefer Real at the moment because they have a more open way of playing, less defensive and more artistic.
“It’s important that you play well. I always prefer a 3-3 or a 5-5 draw to a 0-0. Football is poetry, fantasy. It’s not true that 0-0 is the perfect result.”
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