Pele dies: Brazil great was 'so strong and could do everything', but Messi still number one for Guardiola

By Sports Desk December 30, 2022

Pep Guardiola has no doubt Pele would have dazzled in any era as he paid tribute to the late Brazil great – but Lionel Messi remains his choice for the greatest of all time.

Manchester City manager Guardiola said Pele's legacy "will be eternal", remembering how as a young boy he was told all about the Brazilian by a physio at Barcelona.

When Guardiola watched clips of Pele in his prime, he was wowed by the all-round ability of the Santos superstar, who won three World Cups with his country, in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

Pele toured the world with Santos, as teams lined up for the chance to play against him, and he resisted offers to play for European teams, including Real Madrid.

Following his death at the age of 82, announced by family on Thursday, tributes have poured in for Pele, and Guardiola offered condolences to loved ones from himself and City.

"Football is football thanks to these types of people, players and human beings," Guardiola said.

"What he has done for football is there and always will remain. He didn't just win three World Cups – it was a new thing when he came up. I was not born when he was playing, but it's like a good movie, no?

"The legacy after many years is still there. We are still talking all these years later. Pele, Maradona, Cruyff, Messi, Beckenbauer, Cristiano Ronaldo – these players will be forever, will be eternal.

"They have done many things for many years, and these types of players make our business, our work, our job a better place. What he produced; we have seen with the World Cup one team can change everything for a country of millions of people."

Guardiola added, in a tribute posted on City's website: "When I was in the academy at Barcelona I had a physio who was in love with Brazil and Pele. And after when I was nine or 10, I started to watch some clips.

"Now I realise he was so strong and could do everything. These type of players, if he was playing now, he would adapt to the rhythm and the pace. He was so intuitive and in skills and mentality, he could play in every generation."

Earlier in December, Guardiola said those preferring Pele or Diego Maradona above Messi did so for "sentimental" reasons.

He is sticking to his guns on rating 2022 World Cup winner Messi above all others, having coached the Argentinian at Barcelona.

"Everyone has their own greatest," said Guardiola. "For Argentina they might say Di Stefano, Maradona or Messi. I always say Messi is my favourite because I worked with him – but I understand people choose another one."

Related items

  • Ollie Watkins scores hat-trick as rampant Aston Villa hit Brighton for six Ollie Watkins scores hat-trick as rampant Aston Villa hit Brighton for six

    Ollie Watkins scored a hat-trick as Aston Villa recorded a 10th successive Premier League home win with a 6-1 thumping of Brighton.

    Watkins netted a first-half brace and Pervis Estupinan put through his own net as Villa scored three goals in the space of 13 minutes before the interval to blow Brighton away.

    Striker Watkins completed his hat-trick in the second half and set up substitute Jacob Ramsey for the home side’s fifth goal after Ansu Fati had briefly reduced the deficit before Douglas Luiz completed the scoring deep into added time.

    Victory for Unai Emery’s side extended their winning run to three matches, while Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton were denied the chance to go joint top of the table following their heaviest defeat under the Italian since he took charge in September last year.

    Brighton spurned a glorious early chance to take lead when Billy Gilmour played a delightful ball into Estupinan, only for Emiliano Martinez to make a crucial save.

    And that miss would prove costly as Villa broke the deadlock in the 14th when Watkins finished from close range after John McGinn’s superb pass released Matty Cash down the right.

    The home side doubled their lead after 21 minutes as Watkins somehow squeezed the ball past Jason Steele at his near post after latching on to Moussa Diaby’s through-ball down the left-hand side of the area.

    Moments later, Villa went close to another as Diaby’s drilled cross from the left was flicked to safety by the boot of Steele.

    The hosts continued to pile forward and looked to have put the game to bed after 26 minutes when Diaby’s shot deflected in off Estupinan as the defender ran back towards his own goal, Steele having denied the Villa man moments earlier.

    Following a dismal first-half performance, Brighton boss De Zerbi made a triple substitution at half-time as Fati, Joao Pedro and Tariq Lamptey all entered the fray.

    The Albion boss was quickly rewarded as Barcelona loanee Fati reduced the deficit after 50 minutes with a close-range finish after Pedro had just kept the ball in play, with the goal awarded following a lengthy VAR check for offside.

    However, Villa dashed any thoughts of a fightback after 65 minutes when McGinn’s pass found Watkins on the edge of the area and the striker’s shot deflected in off Adam Webster, with the ball looping over Seagulls keeper Steele.

    Albion almost scored a second goal in the final 10 minutes as substitute Simon Adingra’s dipping shot was magnificently tipped over the crossbar by Martinez.

    However, Villa scored their fifth after 85 minutes when substitute Ramsey curled a fine effort in off the right-hand post from the edge of the area from Watkins’ pass.

    And there was still time for Villa to add to Brighton’s misery as Luiz rolled the ball into an empty net seven minutes into added time after Steele had denied Watkins when one-on-one to round off a superb display from Emery’s men.

  • Russell Martin says win over Leeds was “huge moment” in Southampton’s season Russell Martin says win over Leeds was “huge moment” in Southampton’s season

    Russell Martin has insisted Southampton are through their “toughest period” of the season after beating Leeds 3-1.

    Adam Armstrong’s classy double and Will Smallbone’s first league goal for Saints – all in the first half – helped end a four-game losing streak.

    Pascal Struijk pulled one back for the visitors in the second half but Martin was thrilled to get back to winning ways.

    The Saints boss said: “I’m really proud of the players. The feeling in the camp has been great considering the results we’ve had and they’ve gone all in today.

    “We scored some goals of the highest quality and hopefully the fans enjoyed them and it gives the players energy.

    “Hopefully that will be the toughest period we go through and the most difficult moments we go through in the season.

    “We have learned a lot to come through it and to come through a team like Leeds, who will be up there at the end of the season.

    “It will be a huge moment for us. The spirit, aggression and mentality of the team today was where we need to live.”

    Saints were ahead after 104 seconds when Kyle Walker-Peters threaded through to Armstrong, before the forward deftly clipped over Illan Meslier.

    Winger Kamaldeen Sulemana then set up Smallbone to divert in to the bottom corner and then fired across the box to allow Armstrong to fire in.

    They were Armstrong’s sixth and seventh goals of the season.

    “He’s been amazing and runs hard for the team,” said Martin, who played Armstrong on the right wing.

    “He can play in a number of roles and the one at the moment really suits us.

    “I told him he’d play there for a bit and he’s getting better and better.

    “He is a threat wherever he plays and I trust him with whatever we ask him to do, and he does it.”

    Leeds coach Daniel Farke kept his side in the dressing room until the last possible moment and his extra details worked 13 minutes after the restart.

    A corner bobbled around the box before Struijk pulled the ball down on the swivel to poke home.

    Farke said he remained calm during the break, adding: “I wanted to give the players the chance to show a reaction in the second half.

    “I didn’t want to make two or three substitutions at half time and embarrass them, I didn’t get the feeling that two or three players were to blame.

    “On 99 per cent of all cases as a manager that at half time being 3-0 down I would have thrown bottles and killed someone.

    “Today I got the feeling that we had been unlucky and concentrated on how we could turn the game. I talked calmly about winning the second half – and I got the exact reaction I wanted.

    “What decided the game was our defensive behaviour, it was not spot on like in the last four games – where we have four clean sheets.

    “We needed to be more aware and awake in the decisive moments but apart from the goals I can’t remember a situation when Meslier had to make a save.

    “Sometimes tiny little moments can make a big difference. When you are 3-0 down at half-time it is always difficult to return with the points.”

  • Celtic showed ‘incredible mentality’ in late Motherwell drama – Brendan Rodgers Celtic showed ‘incredible mentality’ in late Motherwell drama – Brendan Rodgers

    Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers hailed his players’ composure and spirit following their dramatic late victory over Motherwell.

    The cinch Premiership leaders looked to have won it when substitute Luis Palma whipped the ball just inside the far post to open the scoring in the 87th minute at Fir Park.

    Motherwell levelled five minutes into stoppage time when Blair Spittal slotted home but Matt O’Riley converted Greg Taylor’s deep cross two minutes later to spark wild celebrations and seal a 2-1 win.

    Rodgers said: “It was a great response by the players, incredible mentality. I said to them afterwards, this club’s history is built on many late goals, that’s what Celtic does, but you have to have that will and desire to keep going.

    “I thought we dominated the game. Credit to Motherwell because they were tight and compact. You are not going to have it all your own way so you have to be patient and work the ball at speed. Probably our only thing was lacking a wee bit of quality in and around the box.

    “But once they equalised we stayed clam, kept working the ball and waiting for that moment. We didn’t start lumping it into the box. We worked our way up the pitch, one side to the other, and it was a great cross by Greg Taylor, who showed immense resilience to stay on because he has taken a bad whack on his calf.

    “Matty finished and it was brilliant for the supporters, they are starting to see how this team will keep fighting right to the end.”

    Motherwell have now lost by one goal against each of the top three in successive weeks and manager Stuart Kettlewell again felt they deserved more from the game.

    “It’s probably as sore a defeat as I have had,” he said.

    “We have had a real tough run of games, going to Ibrox and playing against a high-flying St Mirren and then Celtic. But all I can comment on is how my players are acquitting themselves and I hope you see how well they have played again.

    “I accept at times Celtic dominate the ball and carve out probably more chances than there have been in the last two games we have had but nobody can deny there was a real identity to our team again.

    “We created some real good chances ourselves and showed that character to get back in the game. It’s a bitter pill to swallow yet again.”

    Celtic fans spilled on to the track after Palma’s goal with one or two bursting on to the pitch and Motherwell supporters responded by coming on to the park after their equaliser. Celtic’s winner sparked an even bigger invasion and missiles were exchanged between the two sets of fans.

    Kettlewell said: “I don’t want to see those scenes, nobody will, but I also think by the emotion of the game and Celtic knowing they were properly in one again, scoring so late, I understand the emotion of the football supporter.

    “But that doesn’t vindicate the fact we have got fans streaming on to the park. It does a look a bit ugly.

    “You are always concerned about your own players’ safety but Celtic supporters were on to cheer their goal and celebrate with their team so there was no situation where our players were accosted or anything.”

    Rodgers added: “I saw people on the pitch and, listen, that is not what we would want. You understand a little bit the lateness of the goals and what that brings to it and you have to think of the context, but I didn’t see anything else.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.