Pelé – The King of Football has died aged 82

The “King of Football ” Pele, died, on December 29, at 82. The official bulletin of the Albert Einstein Clinic, which is available to the source, indicates the death of the legendary Brazilian.

Pelé – The King of Football

The legendary Pele died at the age of 82 after a long illness. He is undoubtedly the best footballer of all time, as people of all ages from all parts of the world always think of Pele first when they think of football. For the current generation, Messi and Ronaldo, for example, are more on their minds. Nevertheless, on the whole, Pele has long been and remains synonymous with football around the world.

Even if you don’t consider Pele’s record official because, at the time, only some games were recorded on video, it’s still a fantastic world record. Some of Pele’s goals were literally reconstructed from eyewitness accounts. In all, he is credited with 1,281 goals in 1,363 games. He started his famous career as a teenager at Club Santos and ended it as a well-paid legend at the New York Cosmos.

Boy genius

Pele began his childhood at the Club Bauru in Sao Paulo, where former Brazilian national team player Valdemar de Brito coached him. When big clubs took an interest in him, Pele chose Santos, the former club of his mentor. Pele made his first-team debut for Santos at age 15 on 7, 1956, scoring his first of over a thousand goals in a match against Corinthians Santo Andre that ended in a 7-1 victory.

Pele ensured Santos’ dominance not only in Brazil but also beyond. He won the Libertadores Cup in 1962 and 1963. It took him little time to reach the national team level. Pele first put on a Brazilian national team shirt on 9, 1957, in a match against Argentina at the Maracana Stadium when he was 16 and nine months old. Then he scored the first of 77 goals in 92 games for his country. True, Brazil lost 1-2.

Pele’s most prominent rival at the time was the legendary Portuguese Eusebio. The pair met in the 1962 Intercontinental Cup, where the Libertadores Cup and European Cup winners met. Only one of them was to emerge victorious. Pele scored twice when Santos beat Benfica 3-2 at the Maracana. He then scored a hat-trick in the return leg that ended 5-2.

Pele will always be associated with the Brazilian club Santos, with whom he scored 619 goals in 638 games. Along with his services to the Brazilian national team, Pele has earned the title of the best player in the history of the football country itself.

World Cup hero

Pele conquered the world at 17 when he scored twice in the 1958 World Cup final against Sweden (5-2). But he was the brightest star of Brazil’s legendary 1970 national team. Pele opened the scoring against Italy (4-1) in the World Cup final in Mexico. Pele’s story linked two of Brazil’s most significant national teams. To this day, the number 10 jersey holds a sacred meaning worldwide, and no team has yet earned it.

The World Cup victory is often cited in conversations about who is still the best footballer in history. Pele is regularly contrasted with Argentine Diego Maradona, who brought his country the title in 1986 and with whom Pele promised to play in heaven in 2020. Lionel Messi, who just won the world championship, is another option for Argentina. But what distinguished Pele from Maradona, for example, was the absence of many darker sides that characterised Diego. One might remember that Maradona was kicked out of the 1994 World Cup because he tested positive for drugs. Messi, meanwhile, regularly failed at World Cups until 2022.

Pele, on the other hand, has won three world titles in his career. No one else has that. And that alone distinguishes him, regardless of flavour. However, Pele has also suffered significant setbacks at World Cups. At the 1966 World Cup, for example, he scored just one goal, and Brazil failed to make the playoffs. He was wrapped in a blanket and limped off as he left Goodison Park after the 1-3 defeat to Portugal. His right knee was bandaged. During the match, he fought the last man, overcoming the pain.

This knee injury occurred in the first game against Bulgaria. There, Pele also suffered a heavy blow to his legs. He was so outraged by how his opponents treated him that he vowed never to play in the World Cup again. Fortunately, he later reversed his decision. And Pele’s victory with the Brazilian national team at the 1970 World Cup was the peak of his career. He became the heart of a dream team that went down in football history. Pele eclipsed no less great footballers than a supernova’s flash can drown out the light of millions of stars in the galaxy.

Magic is everywhere

It is often said that only a few detailed video recordings of Pele’s play have survived. However, even those who have survived can appreciate the brilliance of the Brazilians. Football was part of his nature. He moved naturally and gracefully on the field, showing his new way of thinking about the game.

Even Pele’s sometimes incomplete actions were admirable for their genius and subtlety. The two episodes when Pele failed to score at the World Cup in Mexico were remembered more often than his goals. They are still used today as examples of the skill, strength, elegance, speed, and liveliness of mind with which Pelé adorned the game.

The first was in a group stage match against Czechoslovakia when Pele sluggishly received the ball in the centre circle and spotted the opposing goalkeeper, who was well out of position. He threw the ball high towards the goal with a graceful, unexpected movement. The goalkeeper almost went mad, but the ball flew just inches from the post.

The second incident occurred in the semi-final against Uruguay. Pele raced at full speed into Tostão’s pass in that episode and then deftly dodged the goalkeeper, allowing the ball to slip past him. The goalkeeper turned into a dummy, but Pele could not score – the angle of the shot was too low.

World icon

Pele’s career peaked when the transfer market was calmer. It is hard to imagine how much money would be swirling around such a player these days. Or rather, not in modern times, but in those days, based on current realities. It’s important to understand that, and that’s why the argument about the greatest footballer in history will never end.

It’s just that football is changing. And Messi’s greatness, for instance, cannot be compared to Maradona’s or Pele’s, nor can it be compared to either of theirs. All comparisons must occur during the same period. 

Here, speculative transpositions are ineffective. 

However, the human brain enjoys categorizing things. So arguments are inevitable and will never end in universal reconciliation with a single position.

Returning to the market, Pele was an obvious target when the North American Football League was formed because that was how the new league would be marketed. German legend Franz Beckenbauer was also in the spotlight at the time. But Pele gave the league status and prominence when he moved to the New York Cosmos in 1975.

The curtain on his career came down on the game between the Cosmos and Santos in New York in October 1977. Pele was arguably the first global superstar in football. And that reputation remained even after his career was over. The mere mention of his name conjures up thoughts of something magical about football.

Life after the game

Various international organisations have used Pele’s name since he retired from professional football. More precisely, they have used his status to raise their profile by involving Pele in numerous initiatives. Collaboration with UNESCO, the United Nations, and other organisations, representing Brazil in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. Pele’s reputation worked in the 21st century. It still works today and will continue to work.

Illness had long sapped Pele’s vitality. He underwent several operations and emerged victorious from many battles with illness. But they piled on more and more. The blows came from everywhere: kidney and heart failure, hip problems, covid, and finally, colon cancer, diagnosed in the autumn of 2021. And then Pele fought off the first attack of the deadly disease. But a second bout of cancer finished him off, ending his life. However, his status as a legend as the “King of Football” can no longer be taken away from him.

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