The football world mourns its “king” | Walfnet

The Brazilian Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as “Pelé”, died on December 29, 2022. He was the absolute monarch of the round ball, the only player to have won three World Cups, in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

Never disputed, not even by Cruyff, Platini, Maradona, Zidane, Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. His treasure, these 1,283 goals scored (according to his own count) in 1,366 games and twenty years of career, a record which continues to challenge, since the 1970s, modern football and its scientific methods. His narcissism, which frequently led him to speak of himself in the third person singular, to assess his uniqueness by the yardstick of Michelangelo or Beethoven, rare examples, in his eyes, of characters to have received, like him, a “gift of God”. Like Elvis Presley for rock, Edson Arantes do Nascimento known as “Pelé”, who died on Thursday December 29, at the age of 82, was therefore the absolute monarch of football. The chosen one”. Doesn’t he remain the only player to have won three World Cups, in 1958, 1962 and 1970?

Slender but endowed with a supernatural technique of both feet and head, barely taller than 1.70 meters, but endowed with a prodigious vertical leap and strong with an astonishing reading of the game, Pelé, before being a deity, was a gamer, in the literal sense, playful.

An eternal kid for whom football remained a game where he could express his inventiveness and his phenomenal cheek, his innate sense of“improvisation” – as pointed out by his captain Carlos Alberto – which led him to perform gestures adapted to each situation, never repeated. The essence of a work of art.

With him, the largest enclosures in the world, starting with the first, the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, were transformed into giant playgrounds. The will-o’-the-wisp ridiculed the defenders, suddenly clumsy, clumsy, petrified at its touch.

The two most wonderful examples that come to mind date from his last World Cup, his Mexican apotheosis, in 1970. As soon as he entered the competition, he amazed the spectators of Guadalajara by daring a lob of about fifty meters at the expense of Czechoslovakian goalkeeper Ivo Viktor, but misses his target by a few centimeters.

During the semi-final, against Uruguay, he gratified them, after a transverse opening by Tostao, with a great bridge executed without touching the ball, letting it slip to the left of Ladislao Mazurkiewicz, the black spider having left his canvas to catch him at the entrance to the penalty area. After going around the unfortunate on his right, Pelé insolently recovers the object, but crosses his shot too much. Failed again! Finally, if you want. Because, from this aborted feat, we retained not the result, but the way.

“Small and rather skinny”

Altruistic, Pelé also knew how to highlight others. It is still him who is at the origin, still at the 1970 World Cup, of the “stop of the century” made by the Englishman Gordon Banks on a head stung at close range (“I scored a goal, but Banks stopped it”, he will comment) and, in the final against Italy, of a model of goal construction, with his blind surrender shifting Carlos Alberto for the coup de grace (4-1). He left this competition with a shirtless triumph, lifted like a trophy by the crowd at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City.

For the first time, equipped households had been able to admire the idol in color, in its costume of light, auriverde, gold and green. Pelé had propelled Brazil to a third title by opening the scoring with a header, after rising above Milan defender Tarcisio Burgnich, who nevertheless exceeded him by several centimeters and had to deploy his arm in desperation.. “I told myself before the match that he was in the flesh, like all of us, lamented his bodyguard. I realized later that I was wrong.

On July 18, 1971, during a friendly match at the Maracana against Yugoslavia, Pelé appeared for the last time in the jersey of the Seleçao. Without him, it wouldn’t be the same. In fifteen years, he had made football a party.

The first sheaves of fireworks were fired in Bauru, a city in the state of Sao Paulo. From the age of 13, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, son of a professional footballer nicknamed “Dondinho”, played for the local Atletico Clube, honing his technique by playing indoor football, which had just been introduced in Brazil. The boy was born further northeast on October 23, 1940, in Tres Coraçoes, a small town in Minas Gerais whose residents’ lives had been transformed by electrification. This is why he had received the first name of Edson, in homage to Thomas Edison.

His nickname Pelé would come from a deformation of the name of the guardian of Ac Bauru, Bilé, to which his comrades compared him to spoof him. So Pelé was also a doorman? Yes, and the explanation is simple, he brags in Pele. my life as a footballer (Globe, 2014): “I often occupied the position of goalkeeper, because, if I was attacking from the start of the match, our team won all the time, and the opposing team no longer wanted to play.”

Professional at 15

Previously, the dunce, who exercised small trades, as a shiner of shoes, had discovered his dexterity by juggling with tied socks or grapefruits. He writes : “My father saw that I was small and rather skinny (…). Since I couldn’t push others out of my way or jump higher than them, I just had to be better at it. I had to learn to make the ball an extension of myself. »

Pelé signed his first professional contract in June 1956. He is only 15 years old, and De Brito’s prophecy is soon to come true. For his debut with the Santos first team, he immediately distinguished himself with a goal, the first of many. Ten months later, in July 1957, he was called up to the national team to face the Argentine enemy at the Maracaña.

There, he became the youngest scorer in international football. Leading the goleadores of the Sao Paulo championship in his first season, he is preparing to discover a new continent and make his name known to the whole world. Despite a painful knee, he traveled to Sweden, which organized the World Cup in June 1958.

By entering the lawn of Göteborg, for the third group match of the auriverde, facing the Soviet Union, Pelé becomes, at 17, the youngest participant in the history of the World Cup. Then his youngest scorer, when he delivers his team in the quarter-finals by breaking the Welsh resistance (1-0). Finally, his youngest finalist and winner by settling for a double against the Swedes (5-2). In the semis, the French of Kopa and Fontaine had been inflicted the same punishment to the score due to the fault of a hat-trick from the striker.

At home, the 10 continues its number. With his club, he is the star of the epic “Santasticos”, a golden generation depositary of the jogo bonito (“beautiful game”, an expression that Pelé popularized), also embodied by goalkeeper Gilmar, defender Mauro Ramos, his partner on the front of the attack, Coutinho, and his quasi-homonym Pepe, accomplice on the left flank.

In 1958, in his second season at Santos, Pelé won the Paulista championship by scoring a staggering fifty-eight goals in thirty-eight games. The following year, the artists triumphed in the Rio-Sao Paulo Tournament – ​​which crowned a national champion – before dominating the continent by lifting the Copa Libertadores, in 1961, at the expense of Penarol de Montevideo.

Nothing can resist them. Santos officially became the best team in the world, thanks to their victory in the 1962 Intercontinental Cup, against the other Portuguese giant, Eusebio’s Benfica. In Lisbon, he won 5-2, Pelé, in weightlessness, achieving a hat-trick. The Paulista club will maintain its South American and planetary supremacy in the following editions.

(The world)


October 23, 1940 : Born in Tres Coraçoes, Brazil

June 1956 : Signature of his first professional contract at Santos FC

July 1957: First selection in the national team

1958 : Wins his first World Cup

July 18, 1971 : Ends his international career

1975 : Signed at Cosmos in New York

1977 : Last professional goal

1995-1998 : Brazilian Sports Minister

December 29, 2022 : Died at 82

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