Sao Paulo: Brazilian legend Pele launched a broadside against Argentina coach Diego Maradona, charging that he only took the job as he was out of work and needed the money, Brazilian media reported.
Pele and Maradona - widely considered as the two best players of all time - have regularly indulged in verbal sparring.
But Pele rose to the bait when the Brazilian media on Monday asked him about comments attributed to Maradona during the inauguration of the World Cup in South Africa.
Maradona allegedly implied that a “dark gentleman” - taken to mean Pele - had questioned the ability of the host nation to be the first African country to host the World Cup.
Pele hit back, saying: “I don’t understand a few things. When he did his first television programme (in 2005) in Argentina and needed some help I went to Buenos Aires, played football with him and helped him out.
“Then I tried to help out with some adverts - but either he was late or never showed up.”
The Brazilian continued sardonically: “I know he has remembered me now in South Africa. He must love me.”
Former sports minister Pele, who said he had no intention of ever coaching Brazil “as I don’t want to suffer the way (current coach) Dunga is suffering”, took another swipe at Maradona, who took control of Argentina in November 2008.
“Maradona accepted the job as he needed work and needed the money. I saw how Argentina qualified with difficulty. But it is not Maradona’s fault; it is the fault of those who put him in charge.”
Earlier this year Pele criticised Argentine Federation President Julio Grondona for appointing Maradona, a volatile character with little coaching experience, albeit someone widely admired in his homeland for leading Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986.