RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 6: Argentine legend Diego Maradona was a better footballer than the country's modern-day idol Lionel Messi, according to Pele.
Barcelona forward Messi -- a five-time winner of the Balon d'Or, awarded to the world's best player -- is not even rated in the top three of football's greatest players by the 78-year-old Brazilian.
"As far as I'm concerned, Maradona was one of the best players ever," Pele said on Wednesday in an interview with the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper.
"If you ask me, 'Was he better than Messi?' Yes, he was. Much better. (Franz) Beckenbauer, (Johan) Cruyff are also better. They're also excellent players."
Pele and Maradona have not always seen eye to eye, but Pele said the pair now enjoy a "perfect" relationship. The only man to win the World Cup three times, Pele is widely regarded as the best footballer of all time. - IANS