Pele, the man with 1,281 goals, is 80 years old



This is the latest tackle for King Pelé. While his son had spread in February 2020 on the depression of his father, the goleador had brought a denial a few weeks later. The Brazilian legend admitted having lived through difficult months after a hip operation but rejected the idea that he would have been “depressed”. “I shouldn’t have said I was sad because of my health, today I’m fine, thank God”, he corrected.

At 17, he scored five times in the semi and final of the World Cup

This family episode, not very exceptional in the agitated personal life of the person concerned, shows that forty-three years after his retirement in 1977, the greatest player in history still attracts attention. Already, in 2014, during the World Cup organized in Brazil of which he was the godfather, a banal urinary tract infection had made the headlines of the world press. Same thing a few months ago, on the occasion of a meeting organized by a sponsor with Kylian Mbappé.

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When Pelé coughs, the whole football world catches cold. And this has been going on for over sixty years. Exactly since June 1958, when this 17-year-old Brazilian boy scored a hat-trick against France in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Before scoring twice in the final against arrogant Swedes sure of superiority. “A new football suddenly seemed possible, more brilliant and instinctive”, emphasizes football historian Paul Diestchy.

Viewers who witnessed it live in Sweden are few and far between, but hundreds of millions have witnessed the Brazilian’s song of gesture at the Mexican World Cup in 1970. “Pelé is the man of black and white TV in 1958 and color TV in 1970: thanks to the small screen he became with Cassius Clay, the first planetary black star of the 1960s, continues the historian who sees a difference of size between the boxer and the footballer. The conversion to Islam and the refusal to fight in Vietnam of the first made him a controversial personality, Pelé, on the contrary, he is the kind smile appreciated by all ”.

The staging of his thousandth goal

In 1958, he became the instrument of revenge after the 1950 World Cup where Brazil lost the final against Uruguay at the Maracana stadium in Rio. All the works dedicated to King Pelé – “We speak of more than a thousand biographies in all languages”, points out Paul Dietschy – begin with this famous oath that the little boy would have made to his father: “One day, I will win it for Brazil, I promise you”. True or false, the story has been carefully maintained, just like that of his name, Pelé, resulting from a pronunciation error of the kid on the name of a goalkeeper of Vasco de Gama, famous club of Rio, a certain Belé .

If the legend is more beautiful than the truth, take the legend, they say. Never has a saying been better used than on November 19, 1969, also in everyone’s memory… That day, Pelé is supposed to have scored his thousandth goal, without being able to be sure of this accounting. On the other hand, history has definitely retained the twenty minutes of honor lap of the king, in the middle of the match, before the game resumes.

An excellent advertising medium

One fact, however, owes nothing to the legend: Pelé was the first to break through with football in the United States, where he ended his career. Excellent advertising medium, the greatest player in the world spent the second part of his life playing VRP for various brands. Without ever really shattering the myth, which is no small feat. Because Pelé remains Pelé, whatever he does. There are the pros and the anti Maradona, the idolaters and the critics of Cruyff, but none like him unanimously in all circles. Especially among the players: all the stars who have been compared to him once declared that the greatest of them was indeed Edson Arantes do Nascimento, said Pelé, born October 21, 1940.

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