Pelé and Diego Maradona are two of the most electrifying soccer players on the planet. Both players have had long careers, achieved unbelievable feats, and cemented themselves as legends of the sport in the eyes of most soccer fans around the world. Pelé: Birth of a Legend and Diego Maradona are films released about the aforementioned athletes. Just like the athletes themselves, the films are good for their own different reason.
A dive into the careers of Pelé and Maradona quickly displays the differences between the athletes that translate to their respective films.
The Assent Of Soccer Legends
Pelé came from humble beginnings growing up in a poor household. His talent led him to begin his professional career at the age of 15 with Santos FC in 1956. Pelé went on the make Brazil’s world cup squad. Pelé helped lead his team to a 5-2 win over France in the semi-final and another 5-2 win against Sweeden to win the tournament. The World Cup performance put Brazil on the map in the soccer world; being the first team outside of Europe to win the World Cup.
Maradona, similar to Pelé, grew up in poverty and began his pro career at a young age. Maradona made his first professional start at 15 for Argentinos Juniors. He spent all of five years with the club and scored 115 goals. Maradona went on to play for the FIFA U-20 team in 1979 and helped his team to a championship win. In 1982 Maradona played in his first official World Cup for Argentina. Unfortunately, Argentina had an early 2nd round exit.
The Diverging Paths Of Pelé And Maradona
Pelé continued his domination in international play winning the world cup two more times in 1962 and 1970. Pelé is the only player to be a part of 3 world cup winning clubs. Asides from his World Cup domination Pelé also played well locally winning 7 league titles for Santos 1956 to 1974. Pelé played in 666 games for Santos while scoring 646 goals. Pelé also had a short stint at the end of his career with the New York Cosmos in the MLS. Pele’s domination on the field is unequivocally breathtaking, but one thing that separates him from other athletes is his humanitarian efforts off the field.
Maradona can essentially go toe to toe with the on-field success of Pelé. Unfortunately, Pelé’s scandal-free career is what separates the two more than anything. While Maradona went on to lead Argentina to a World Cup win in 1986, he also, like Pelé, had tremendous success out of international play. Maradona played for several clubs and won 7 league titles. His most notable stint was with Napoli. In Napoli Maradona won two league titles, played in 259 games and scored 115 goals. Sadly, this is where the glory ends for Maradona.
Maradona reportedly had an intense drug addiction between the 1980s and early 2000s. In 1991 Maradona was forced to sit out 15 weeks, after testing positive for cocaine usage. His career on the Argentinian world cup team came to in end in 1994 after two games, when Maradona failed an ephedrine test. Even without the drugs, Maradona also allegedly had an “illegitimate son” and was rumored to be involved with local crime organizations during his time in Napoli.
After a quick examination of the lives of Pelé and Maradona, we can see how their two films may differ from one another.
Which Film Should You Watch?
Pelé: Birth of a Legend is a dramatization of the early life and success of Pelé. This film highlights where Pelé came from and does a good job of making the audience root for the soccer star. Diego Maradona serves as a documentary rather than a dramatic biopic. The film uses real-life footage and interviews rather than actors and written scenes. Diego Maradona also has a more grim tone when compared to Pelé: Birth of a Legend. While Pelé’s film is a feel-good movie, Maradona is more of a tragedy. Both films are worth a watch, with two radically different tones picking one just depends on the mood you’re in.
Both Pelé and Maradona are alive and active in the soccer community to this day. Pelé is 78 years old and recently opened a Soccer retail store in Miami with the name of “Pelé Soccer”. Maradona is 58 and is seemingly looking to become a soccer manager with a recent plead to Manchester United for job consideration. Both of these men are true legends of the sports world. Both films regarding these men do a good job of capturing the electricity of their careers and lives. The movies despite being about soccer stars are undeniably different. Comparing them is like comparing apples and bananas. Picking just one would be an injustice to the other when both are excellent in their own unique ways; just like Pelé and Maradona themselves.
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