Paris, June 10 (IANS) Football legends Pele and Diego Maradona attended a historical friendly game here to spread the message of unity and peace, pursued by the forthcoming Euro 2016.
It was for the first time on Thursday the two greatest players of all time appeared together in a game, leading a 5-man side respectively, at Palais Royal in Paris, Xinhua news agency reported.
Pele’s team comprised of Rio Gavin Ferdinand, Fernando Hierro, Nelson Dida, Crespo and Bebeto, while Maradona’s side had David Sergio Trezeguet, Gino Peruzzi, Ciro Ferrara, Marco Materazzi and Clarence Clyde Seedorf.
All these former stars are Friends of Hublot, a Swiss brand and official watch of the Euro 2016, which organised the game to create the historical moment in soccer history.
Pele and Maradona, who had been at odds around the year 2000 when FIFA decided to have a vote to find the “Player of the Century”, walked slowly into the court after their teams, holding high each other’s hand.
During the vote 16 years ago, Maradona won the online poll comfortably with about 53 percent, which led to concern that the age of internet users meant more people who saw the Argentine play would be able to cast a vote than those of an older generation who saw Pele.
Then in the FIFA-organised poll among “football family” — officials, coaches and journalists, Pele won by a landslide 72 percent.
At the awarding ceremony in Rome, FIFA decided to split the award in two and announced Pele and Maradona as the two greatest players of all time.
“It is a great moment of closeness together,” said Maradona at the scene. “It is so nice to have Pele so close here with us today and to see he is so happy. It is so nice that we can be together. Such a great feeling.”
Pele said: “It’s a big big moment and a big pleasure for me, because we come here together for the peace, to talk about the peace. Thanks Hublot to give us the opportunity, because today we have a lot of problems in the world.”
Trezeguet told reporters: “It is an exceptional and historical moment for Pele and Maradona to come together. It is a friendly reunion of the two great players. For me, I meet many friends, and it is a very good day.”
The friendly game had two 15-minute halves and a 10-minute break. Maradona replaced Hierro after the interval and played the whole second half, scoring twice, but his second goal was his own goal.
His team led 8-7 in the last minute and Maradona deliberately kicked the ball into own net from close range to make an 8-8 in the end, saying it was for friendship.