As you might have expected, old rival Pele does not feature in the Argentina icon’s list of favourite footballers
Diego Maradona has named fellow Argentine, Alfredo Di Stefano, as the greatest footballer in history, overlooking compatriot Lionel Messi and Brazilian legend Pele.
Maradona, now head coach at Gimnasia de La Plata, is often listed among the best to ever grace a pitch, with his exploits for Barcelona, Napoli and Argentina among others earning him that spot in the ongoing debate.
And, while the former attacker does feel that he has achieved enough to be in the conversation, he stated that he feels a different South American tops the chart for the best of all time, accusing Pele of turning a blind eye to Di Stefano’s undeniable quality.
“I think the best was Di Stefano,” Maradona told TyC Sports’ Libero. “He was superior to everyone – even me.
“Pele didn’t want to recognise Di Stefano’s talents. Pele’s friends invented a trophy especially for him for being a living legend of football. I even beat Pele in Rio for being the best in history!”
Like all elite footballers, Maradona played against some of the most talented players of his era and was asked to name the best shirt he swapped with another player and the team-mate he found was the easiest to play alongside.
“The best shirts I swapped were with Gullit and Van Basten when they were at AC Milan,” he said. “The player who I connected best with was [former Napoli striker] Careca.”
With Messi having just lifted a record sixth Ballon d’Or, Maradona commented on how many he could have won if he was playing today and took time to praise his countryman amid criticism surrounding the fact that the Barca star has never dragged Argentina to World Cup glory.
“I think I’d have quite a few [Ballons d’Or],” he said, “but what Messi is doing is outstanding. I would never like to face Messi – not ever. The lad comes home, plays football, doesn’t sing the national anthem and they say he’s Catalan. I don’t criticise Messi [like some others do].”
Maradona famously said in the past that he taught Messi how to take free-kicks, but he admitted that he offered only a little advice and that the rest is all down to the forward’s innate talent.
“I told him where he should place his foot, but the rest is all down to him. He has got it down to a tee.”