The sporting world was shaken last week when Argentina great Maradona died at the age of 60 after suffering heart failure.
Former Brazil superstar Pele, who is now 80, intimated he was tired of being compared to Maradona, with the South American pair having been widely regarded for many years as the greatest players of all time.
The likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have entered that conversation in recent times, but Pele says looking for winners during such debates can stifle appreciation levels.
In a new tribute to Maradona, Pele wrote: "Many people loved to compare us all their lives. You were a genius that enchanted the world. A magician with the ball at his feet. A true legend. But above all that, for me, you will always be a great friend, with an even bigger heart.
"Today, I know that the world would be much better if we could compare each other less and start admiring each other more. So, I want to say that you are incomparable.".
The mercurial Maradona won 91 caps for his country between 1977 and 1994, scoring 34 goals at international level.
Pele was sorry he did not have a chance to say goodbye to Maradona in person, but he said the 1986 World Cup winner had managed to be influential, even in death.
In his message, posted to Instagram, Pele added: "Your trajectory was marked by honesty. And in your unique and particular way, you taught us that we have to love and say 'I love you' a lot more often. Your quick departure didn't let me say it to you, so I will just write: I love you, Diego."
He illustrated their friendship with a series of photographs, dating back decades, beginning with an early encounter when a young Maradona watches Pele play guitar.
"My great friend, thank you very much for our entire journey," Pele wrote. "One day, in heaven, we will play together on the same team. And it will be the first time that I raise my fist in the air in triumph on the pitch without celebrating a goal. It will be because I can finally embrace you again."