Pele says 1970 Brazil side more gifted than Spain
Brazil's 1970 World Cup winners contained more gifted individuals than Spain's current all-conquering national side, the Brazilian side's greatest player Pele said on Wednesday. By Andrew Downie (Reuters)
Asked who would win a showdown between the two teams, Pele flashed a big smile and said: "If I was playing, we'd win, no doubt about it."
"As long as they are comparing teams with the 1970s, it is because the 1970s team is better," he added. "(The) 1970 (team) is the standard by which others are rated."
Spain won the European Championship for the second time in a row on Sunday and, as World Cup Winners in 2010, became the first team in the post-war era to win three successive major international tournaments.
Spain's dominance and possession-based style of play have won them comparisons with the Brazil side of 1970, widely regarded as the greatest ever.
That team, led by Pele and featuring Rivellino, Gerson, Tostão and Jairzinho, won the World Cup in Mexico, hammering Italy 4-1 in the final.
Pele retired from international football in 1971 and did not go to the World Cup in West Germany in 1974, where a disappointing Brazil side finished fourth.
Pele, 71, said the difference between Brazil then and Spain today was the number of outstanding players on each team. He said Brazil were far superior on a player-by-player basis.
"These comparisons will always be there but you can't compare them individually," he said. "Individually the 1970 team had a lot more better players than Spain, who have two or three excellent players."
Nevertheless, the former Santos and New York Cosmos player lauded the Spaniards and said watching them was a rare pleasure.
"Without a doubt, this Spain side play the football I've most liked to watch over the last couple of generations," he said. DM
Photo: Brazil's 1970 team before the final match against Italy, which they won 4:1.