London: Brazil and Santos legend Pele celebrated his 71st birthday in London in typical outspoken style this week, hailing the Premier League as Europe's top division and branding Lionel Messi an "incomplete" player.
The three-time World Cup winner, who is in the UK for the global launch of his new sports lifestyle collection The Beautiful Revolution, told Goal.com: "I would love to play with Lionel Messi. But Messi is an incomplete player because he can't use his head. Also I played football for 20 years, Messi has only played for several years."
He added: "If there is one player in the world today I would love to play with it is Neymar."
Pele was speaking at a special drinks reception held in London's Covent Garden to mark his 71st birthday, with guests including Rio Ferdinand, brother Anton, ex-Bayern Munich and Barcelona defender Patrick Andersson and Pele's 1970 World Cup opponent Terry Cooper, formerly of England and Leeds United.
Brazil's leading all-time goalscorer said he was delighted to be in England and hailed the country's top-flight division: "The English Premier League is the best league in Europe, better than La Liga."
When asked about who his toughest opponent was, Pele, who faced the likes of Bobby Moore and Giacinto Facchetti in his playing days, joked: "Sylvester Stallone during the filming of Escape to Victory. He was very strong."
The Rocky star played an American POW-turned-goalkeeper in the World War Two film in which he co-starred with Michael Caine and Pele amongst others.
As a birthday present, Pele was presented by PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes and Arsenal youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with a special lifetime award: a glittering 18-carat gold-plated football boot.
Barnes said: "Alex is one of the best young players in the English Premier League. He made his debut at 16, and if he achieves a fraction of what Pele did he will have a fantastic career.
"Everyone remembers Pele's Brazil teams from 1957-70, and the World Cup victories of '58, '62 and '70.
"Only a few things are memorable from my childhood: the Apollo moon landings, Muhammad Ali's boxing fights... and Pele. On behalf of the PFA, we are delighted to present this award as a symbol of our esteem."
Guests at the London event were then shown the Pele sport brand's Spring Summer '12 collection, featuring the launch of three distinct ranges - Pelé Story, Pelada and Performance.
The most heralded and eagerly-anticipated from these collections is the "revolutionary, ground-breaking, ultra-light" Trinity 3E football boot, which promises to "maximise a player's game and speed potential by training your muscles as you play."