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Pele, the only three-time world champion footballer, the king of football, has died

30. 12. 2022 Friday / By: Robert Denes / Generic / Exact time: BST / Print this page

One of the best-known and best footballers of all time, the only three-time world champion in the sport, the Brazilian Pelé, died at the age of 82. You, as a reader, are probably asking now, but why am I reading this here? Pelé previously advertised several Nokia phones in 1999 and 2006.

His death left the entire football world - and especially Brazil, the nation that nurtured and adored him - in a state of mourning. It was as if a national treasure had been lost forever, because in fact it was Pelé. The Brazilian government made this official statement at the height of its power. This kept him at his Brazilian club Santos, where he eventually scored most of his 1,281 goals - still an unsurpassed, albeit disputed, world record.

By the end of his 21-year professional career, Pelé had become an international icon, perhaps the sport's first truly global superstar. His late career in New York helped popularize soccer even in the United States. But he was Brazil above all else.

He was a boy from a slum in the state of São Paulo, one of thousands in a soccer-crazy country who grew up on dirt pitches, often without shoes or a football, but with like-minded friends and dreams. He grew up to be an artist and an assassin - before he was even a man. He led Santos to the league title at the age of 17, scoring a still-record 58 goals. Then he boarded his first plane, landed in his first foreign country and scored six times in three World Cup knockout games to lead his nation to its first World Cup title.

He was overcome with emotion after the second of his two goals in the 1958 final. He thought back to his family 7,000 miles away. "Did they know we were champions?" he wondered innocently. He got the answer when he returned home. Lights, flying... papers and joyful people lined the central streets. Some fought over the young Pelé's head through helmeted guards. Others climbed trees to get a glimpse. Pelé's fame soon spread far and wide. Its rise coincided with the golden age of air travel and the boom in international television broadcasting. His talents became portable in time and space and could hypnotize anyone. His face beaming from billboards, seemingly ubiquitous on popular TV channels, became recognizable everywhere.

At the first World Cup in Sweden, the pale locals were simply amazed by his dark skin. By the time he arrived in Mexico for the 1970 World Cup, he was carrying advertisements, shells and unprecedented celebrity. When he won, he was swarmed by fans and journalists as part of the most prestigious international football team ever. An Italian opponent even sprinted towards him and pulled the iconic yellow number 10 shirt off his back. Even his rivals were mesmerized by his greatness.

"I told myself before the game that he is made of skin and bones like everyone else," Italian defender Tarcisio Burgnich said after the 1970 final. "But I was wrong."

It is made of magic, breathtaking speed and spontaneous skill, daring, technique and intuition. Only a fraction remained on the highlight reels. Visual evidence of Pelé's favorite goal, for example, does not exist. His genius has largely been preserved in legend - therefore eclipsing the genius of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the eyes of younger generations.

But Pelé's primacy in his time was indisputable. Various organizations have called him the greatest athlete of the 20th century. In the 1960s, some people believed he was the most famous man on the planet. Popes, emperors and presidents sought his company. The companies asked for his support. Admirers looked everywhere for what they could. "In some countries they wanted to touch it. In some of them, they wanted to kiss him," a teammate once recalled. – In others, they even kissed the ground he walked on.

He wanted to applaud his opponents. He made Just Fontaine, the record breaking French striker, hang up his boots. To Johann Cruyff, the Dutch midfield master: "Pelé was the only footballer who overcame the limits of logic." For Romario, the Brazilian striker who won the World Cup in 1994, Pele was "like a god".

At the same time, he was also mortal and fallible. He squandered his wealth on reckless investments. He subjected himself to an awkward second career as a vagabond ambassador and throwing master. He had affairs, was divorced twice, and fathered several children out of wedlock. He refused to recognize one of them, Sandra Machado, even after she wrote an emotional book about his rejection and sued to prove she was, in fact, his daughter. From Edson Arantes do Nascimento to Pele The boy who became king was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in 194 0 on October 23 in Tres Coracoes, a modest settlement in the southeastern part of Brazil. He was raised 300 miles west in Bauru by his parents, Celeste Arantes and João Ramos do Nascimento, a housewife and professional soccer player. Dad taught little Edson about sports.

It was initially called Dico. The nickname that stuck, "Pelé", was a school creation. Edson's classmates derived it from a mispronunciation of "Bilé" - professional goalkeeper. Edson initially hated the name. "On one occasion I was hit by a classmate for this," he recalled later. It finally arrived.

In the meantime, he honed his skills on the dusty tracks, surrounded by friends from the area. When they didn't have a ball to kick, they made one, perhaps by stuffing a sock with newspaper and tying it tightly with string, or by transforming a grapefruit.

Pelé's family lived on necessities. His father's football salary was small. Pelé, the eldest of two children, supplemented it by working in tea shops or cleaning shoes at the local train station. Then in 1956, aged 15, his coach took him to Santos for a trial, and everything changed.

He signed a contract. He scored on his debut. In the two years that followed, he became a bona fide star. He sculpted his body in adolescence. Martial arts training sharpened his balance and agility, qualities that allowed him to move past defenders at will. In 1958, Brazil qualified him for the World Cup despite missing the first two matches due to a pre-tournament injury.

In Sweden, life was calm in the Brazilian base camp. "it was quiet," Pelé recalled, "and my thoughts could soar." He connected with his older teammates. They played darts and went fishing, undisturbed by the eager locals. Relatively few people in Europe knew the boy from Bauru by name.

Then they turned on their black and white televisions. They sat down to watch Brazil, perhaps for the first time, on the biggest stage in football. They saw a skinny 17-year-old girl playing with imagination and drive, running circles around seasoned veterans, flicking balls at their feet.

He scored the only goal in the 1-0 quarter-final win over Wales and then scored a hat-trick in the semi-final against France. A few days later, he mesmerized Sweden, popping the ball over the head of a helpless defender and slotting it home. The second of his two goals that day, a soaring header, sealed the 5-2 Brazil rout. And in that moment, from São Paulo to Sweden, from London to Lisbon and many places in between, Pelé became Pelé. Before long, European giants were calling. Back then, soccer was not the Eurocentric commercial behemoth it is today. But the likes of Juventus, Real Madrid and Manchester United dominated. Pelé and Santos were approached with seven-figure offers. Santos took one from Inter Milan. Pelé has reportedly signed a contract with the Italian club. Then the president, Angelo Moratti, received a phone call.

"On the other end of the phone," Moratti's son later recalled, "there was a man who was very worried about his safety."

He was president of Santos. The news of Pelé's impending transfer has reached the public. “As soon as you heard it in Brazil,” said Massimo Moratti, “people went wild against the leaders.

The only solution, given Pelé's importance in Brazil, was to terminate the contract.

The Brazilian government soon declared it a national treasure, and national treasures will not be exported. Pelé stayed with Santos, winning South American titles in 1962 and 1963. His star power also allowed Santos to tour Europe, sometimes only for exhibition matches. There were also Intercontinental Cups, a newly conceived competition between South American and European champions. Pelé and Santos also won these, beating Benfica in '62 and AC Milan in '63.

In the '60s, however, fame began to take its toll. Pelé began to travel more for commercial pursuits than for sport. This strained his relationship with Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi, whom he married in 1966 but eventually divorced in 1982. Pelé later admitted to sleeping with other women while they were a couple, both before and after their marriage.

Soccer also started to wear on me. Opponents who could not stop him resorted to illegal measures. Crunching tackles. Bruising hip control. Swings on the leg. "Football has become ugly," Pelé said at the time. A mishap knocked him out of the 1962 World Cup, which Brazil won without him. Brutal tactics, however, knocked him and Brazil out in 1966.

He started the World Cup as a 25-year-old megastar. He came out in pain after three games and two losses, with a gold necklace and a black towel on his bare top.

Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you endlessly. rest in peace

Pelé's daughter wrote on her Instagram page.

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