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I will choose Messi over Ronaldo for my team, says Pele

New Delhi: Legendary Brazilian footballer Pele on Friday said he will choose Lionel Messi to play for his team – over Cristiano Ronaldo – while speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2018.

“Difficult to compare Messi and Ronaldo. Messi has a completely different style than Ronaldo. Lot of people compared me with George Best but we had different style of play. Ronaldo is more of a centre forward while Messi is more organised.

“If I have to decide for my team I will choose Messi over Ronaldo,” the three-time FIFA World Cup champion told former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia during a freewheeling conversation.

Bhutia started the session by asking Pele about how he took to football and the 77-year old said his father was his inspiration.

“My father was a good centre forward. He taught me how to play. He asked me to score three times more goals than him . My father was the person who encouraged me to play football. He was my inspiration,” Pele said.

Born as Edson Arantes do Nascimento in South-eastern Brazil’s Mines Gerais state, Pele had an interesting story about how he got his name.

“My father gave me the name after the famous inventor Thomas Edison. When I went to play football, they started calling me ‘Pes’ – the Portuguese word for feet. In Portuguese when you kick the ball it means “Pes” so they started calling me Pele on the football field and that is how I got my name.”

Pele said that he wanted to join Corinthians but eventually signed for Santos as his father was close to the president of the club. He said he didn’t believe when his friend told him about a call from the national team ahead of the 1958 World Cup.

“When my friends told me that I have been selected for the national team of Brazil for the World Cup in Sweden, I said you are joking…I was surprised to see the plane that was to take us to Sweden. It was huge,” the legend said.

When asked about who were the greatest Brazilian footballers he had played with, Pele named Garrincha, Didi and Falcao. He though had a different answer when asked which player would he would buy a ticket to go and watch.

“Zico, Socrates are the players I would buy a ticket to go and watch”, he said. Both Zico and Socrates were part of the Brazilian team which played at the 1982 FIFA World Cup. That team is widely considered as the best Brazilian team to have never won the coveted trophy.


On being asked how has football changed Pele said, “football hasn’t changed inside the field. The biggest change has been in the facilities. We didn’t have such great facilities.”

Pele is widely regarded as the best footballer to have played the ‘beautiful game’. He first won the FIFA World Cup title with the Brazilian national team as a teenager in the year 1958 and went on to defend the world title with the Selecao in the year 1962. He capped off his outstanding international career with his third World Cup trophy in 1970.

The legendary Brazilian had first visited India way back in 1977, when he was still an active footballer.