Pelé: What made Brazilian legend so great



Born into poverty – he used to kick a grape around the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais – Pele ended his career as one of soccer’s greatest players.

He was that rarity; Like Muhammad Ali, Pele was a sports star who transcended his sport.

The Brazilian has brought joy and creativity to a game that is often bogged down in rigidity and individuality Oh Jogo Bonito – “Beautiful game.”

“Pele changed everything,” current Brazil international Neymar Jr. wrote after the announcement of Pele’s death.

“He turned football into art, into entertainment. He gave voice to the poor, black people and especially the people. He gave Brazil a look. ”

From shining as a 17-year-old in 1958 to claiming the Golden Ball award as player of the 1970 World Cup en route to his first World Cup success when he won a third global title, “Hey Rei” (“King”) achieved almost everything possible in the famous yellow and blue of Brazil.

And there were goals – lots of them.

Pelé scored 757 goals in 812 official matches for club and country. However, there is disagreement on how many goals he scored in his career. According to Reuters, The Brazilian Football Association and Santos say Pele scored 1,283 goals in 1,367 matches, although FIFA gives 1,281 goals in 1,366 matches.

But it wasn’t just the impressive number of goals he scored. As Neymar suggests, Pele was also an artist on the pitch.

“Even though he didn’t use a brush or a pen, he just had a ball at his feet,” CNN Sports’ Don Riddell said.

The world got a glimpse of Pele for the first time in the 1958 World Cup.

“When we arrived in Sweden, no one knew what Brazil was. They know about Argentina … Uruguay. It was a surprise for us,” Pele told CNN in 2016.

At the age of 17 years and seven months, Pele became the youngest player to play at the World Cup, a record held by Brazil until Northern Ireland’s Norman Whiteside achieved the feat in 1982.

Almost 15 years after the 1958 World Cup, Pele hung up his boots for the World Cup. make a choiceBequeathing his country as the most successful team in World Cup history and the most feared in international football.

Pele hugged his teammate Wawa after scoring to make the score 2–1 in the 1958 World Cup final.

Pelé’s crowning moment for Brazil came at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, a tournament further romanticized as the first World Cup broadcast in color.

Throughout that tournament, Pele blazed a trail of technicolor glory, a blur of yellow and gold, seducing and mesmerizing opposing teams.

His four goals earned him player of the tournament, which was complemented by Carlos Alberto’s superb goal in the final against Italy.

“We won the World Cup, and I think my life in the game (it was the peak), without a doubt,” Pele told CNN

Italian defender Tarcisio Berganich summed up Pele’s genius: “I said to myself before the game, he’s made of skin and bones like everyone else. But I was wrong.”

Pele in action against Italy in the 1970 World Cup final.

Even when Pele didn’t score helped cement his legendary status – notably England goalkeeper Gordon Banks’ brilliant block from the Brazilian’s powerful header in a group game, which was widely It is considered to be the greatest rescue ever.

“The safety was one of the best I’ve ever seen – in real life and in the thousands of games I’ve seen since,” Pele wrote. In a 2019 Facebook post Tribute to Banks after goalkeeper’s death

“When you are a footballer, you immediately know how well you hit the ball. I hit that title exactly as I had hoped. Exactly where I wanted it to go. And I was ready to celebrate.

“But then this man, Banks, appeared before me like a kind of blue phantom.”

Despite playing three years of his club career with Brazilian side Santos, Pele’s dynamism, brilliance on the ball and lethality in front of goal ensured he became one of football’s first black global stars.

Pele admitted to CNN in 2015 that he had enough interest from Europe to move across the Atlantic, but chose not to leave out of loyalty and “love” for Santos; Another reason why he is so beloved in his native country.

“In the past, it was a profession full of love, now it is just a profession,” Pele said.

“I don’t have as much love playing for my club, playing for my country. Obviously, a footballer needs to make a living from the game. It’s different from my time. ”

Such was his influence as a soccer player, Pele also became the symbol of a new country, according to a recent Netflix documentary.

“To cope with that, I think he creates this character of Pele, who almost gives up his identity to become a kind of Brazilian,” said Ben Nichols, co-director of the documentary about Brazilian life. told CNN.

As well as bearing the burden of the country’s ambitions on the world stage, the rise of the Brazilian military in 1964 showed an interest in football as a strategic and political strategy – specifically, the 1970 World Cup as a “government issue”. “Targeting as” – according to the Netflix documentary, presented a problem for the apolitical Pele.

“There’s a really telling line at the end of the film,” said David Trihorne, the documentary’s second director. said“Where you might be expecting Pele to give us a ‘Pele-ism’, where he would talk about joy and happiness, but actually he talks about ‘relief’.”

Pele poses with the World Cup trophy on March 9, 2014 in Paris.

The footballing GOAT debate is one that will rage until the end of time – is it Pele? Or is it Diego Maradona? Or Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?

But, Brazil’s pure love and devotion for Pele is unmatched and it is one that extends beyond just a great footballer, to a totem pole for a nation.

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