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Footballing legends Pele and Diego Maradona were involved in an explosive fist-fight last night during a special party to celebrate the Brazilian’s 68th birthday.

Pele has had a long and bitter feud with Argentine hero Maradona, who has always accused the Brazilian of being part of the ‘devil’ family of FIFA.

The dispute hit a real low in 2000 when FIFA conducted an internet fan poll to elect the ‘Player of the Century’. Maradona won the poll but then FIFA altered the way in which the winner was chosen, and opted to give the prize to Pele. Maradona protested and eventually both players were presented with an award, with El Pibe d’Oro claiming that his rival’s trophy was worthless.

Last night the most explosive scene in this volatile soap-opera was played out as the pair actively engaged in a fully blown fist-fight during Pele’s 68th birthday celebrations.

O Rei, who is currently in Europe on a Viagra promotional tour, threw a lavish party in his mansion in Zurich, Switzerland. The 300 listed guests read out like a who’s who of the footballing, political and celebrity world. Outgoing American President George Bush and UK PM Gordon Brown were both present, as were movie director Steven Spielberg, singer Elton John, and of course FIFA top-dogs Sepp Blatter, Joao Havelange and Jack Warner.

Some major football figures were also chosen to represent some of the most prestigious countries. Dino Zoff (Italy), Michel Platini (France) and Hong Myung-Bo (South Korea) were just some of these.

The party all seemed to be going well, with Elton John and Celine Dion providing the music, Spielberg and Tom Cruise playing out a scene from their upcoming film, and Blatter performing some Swiss stand-up comedy on stage.

Then, like any dramatic Spielberg Hollywood disaster-thriller, the evening started to descend into something of a horror show. First of all English Representative Paul Gascoigne consumed a little too much alcohol and began smashing up Pele’s Grand Piano. He was eventually ejected by security, but not before he had thrown a cocktail of vodka, whisky and Grappa over ex-German midfielder Lotthar Matthaus, who he blamed for his infamous Italia ’90 semi final yellow card.

Matthaus responded by declaring that “all Englishmen were drunks”, which caused a stir between some of the German and English guests.

At 2200 local time, Blatter then called for everyone’s attention in order to issue a birthday toast to Pele, stating: “Ladies and gentleman, let us all raise our glasses to the greatest player in the history…

While Blatter was at mid-sentence, suddenly a most unexpected guest burst into the ballroom. It was none other than Pele’s arch-nemesis Diego Maradona, who had gate-crashed the fun, having been humiliatingly snubbed when the invites were sent out.

Maradona stubbed out his Cuban cigar into Pele's expensive Persian rug and  immediately launched himself into a tirade: “Greatest player in the history? Haha…Greatest player in the history of what?

“Pele, you are the biggest myth there has ever been. You are not even close to being the greatest ever player in your own country. Were you better than Zico, Garrincha, Rivelino, Ronaldo? Only FIFA and all the dirty people behind you proclaim you as the best ever.

“The real people know that I am the greatest and this is all that matters. I am the real deal, you are a fraud and a sell-out.”

Pele then responded in kind. “Diego, please tell me, what drugs have you been taking tonight?

“You are a cheat and a bad role model. You are a bad example to young children. Now get out of my house and stop embarrassing me in front of these distinguished people.”

Maradona squared up to Pele, before American boxing promoter Don King stepped in and proposed that the pair have a three-round fight, with the winner officially being declared as 'The Greatest'. The South Americans reluctantly accepted, and former Ecuadorian official Byron Moreno was called to referee the bout.

Maradona dominated the first two rounds, and shook Pele with a couple of stinging left hooks, dancing around the Brazilian, who was unable to match the Argentine’s workrate.

At the beginning of round three Maradona dropped Pele with a beautiful uppercut that brought back memories of the 1986 ‘Hand of God’. However, in an astonishing decision, referee Moreno deemed the punch as illegal, and disqualified Maradona who, like Gascoigne before him, was ejected by security and put on a plane back to Georgia, where he will be playing in an exhibition match. The party then continued without him.

A video of this amazing fight, including the knockdown, appeared on Youtube late last night, although it was removed soon after. However, a new, heavily edited video was this morning posted on the official FIFA website, which mysteriously shows Pele actually flooring Maradona before having his arms raised by Blatter and Moreno.

Please note that this story is satirical...

Carlo Garganese

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