Football greats, Pele and Diego Maradona finally made “peace”, putting aside a long-running feud that has spanned over two decades.
The two old rivals buried the hatchet to feature in a five-a-side match for friendship on Thursday, organised by a Swiss watchmaker with UEFA, at the Palais-Royal, Paris, France.
Pele, 75 and Maradona, 55, are considered the greatest soccer players in history after leading Brazil and Argentina to separate World Cup titles.
While Pele was busy dictating play from the touchline as coach, Maradona thrilled the spectators with his endless skills in the 30-minute contest.
“I want to thank Pele; we know who he is and who he will always be. We need icons like him,” said the former Napoli man, who starred as Argentina clinched the 1986 World Cup.
“The most important is the message of peace,” three-time World Cup winner, Pele, replied.
The former Santos player added: “Many thanks to my friend Maradona for this opportunity and a big round of applause to the players who have been here today. This is a moment of peace.”
The squabble between the pair dates back to 2000 when FIFA was trying to decide the Player of the 20th Century.
The world body organised an online vote which Maradona easily won. But FIFA thought the online users at the time were too young and so the vote was skewed in Maradona’s favour.
It then organised a vote by readers of the FIFA magazine and cast by an international jury. This time Pele won by a landslide and this opened the floodgates of attack and counter-attacks.
FIFA decided to split the award and named Pele and Maradona as the two greatest players of all time.
“I had the vote of the people, Pele won by forfeit,” said Maradona, who walked out of a Rome gala so he did not see the Brazilian collect his award.
Maradona later accused Pele of letting his former Brazil teammate Garrincha “die in misery”. Pele responded that Maradona was “sick”.
Asked on Thursday which of the two players was better, a grinning Pele said: “There is no doubt. Pele is the better player. You can ask my mother and my father if you want to be sure of that.”
Former France striker David Trezeguet, Italy goalkeeper, Angelo Peruzzi and ex-Dutch midfielder, Clarence Seedorf also featured as Thursday’s match finished in a diplomatic 8-8 draw.
Others are 1994 World Cup winner with Brazil, Bebeto, Rio Ferdinand, Dida, Hernan Crespo and Fernando Hierro.