Brazilian legend Pele penned a touching tribute to Diego Maradona a week after his death, calling his friend and fellow football great a “genius who enchanted the world”.
The two players are often rated against each other in discussions about who was the greatest of all time but Pele insisted in his Instagram post on Wednesday night that the Argentinian was second to none.
The post is illustrated with a series of photos of the two legends together, including one showing a young Maradona all smiles next to Pele playing the guitar. The Brazilian also changed his display picture to one with the football legend.
Although they did not play at the same time, the two legends always had a certain rivalry, including at the turn of the millenium when Pele was crowned “Player of the (20th) Century” by Fifa while Maradona won a public vote.
In Brazil, it is common to pay homage to the deceased a week after their death, when a “seventh-day mass” is celebrated by Catholics like Pele.
Here’s the full text of his message and the photos.
Today it’s been seven days since you left. Many people loved to compare us all their lives. You were a genius that enchanted the world. A magician with the ball at his feet. A true legend. But above all that, for me, you will always be a great friend, with an even bigger heart.⠀
Today, I know that the world would be much better if we could compare each other less and start admiring each other more. So, I want to say that you are incomparable. ⠀
Your trajectory was marked by honesty. And in your unique and particular way, you taught us that we have to love and say “I love you” a lot more often. Your quick departure didn’t let me say it to you, so I will just write: I love you, Diego.⠀
My great friend, thank you very much for our entire journey. One day, in heaven, we will play together on the same team. And it will be the first time that I raise my fist in the air in triumph on the pitch without celebrating a goal. It will be because I can finally embrace you again.
With AFP Inputs