Pelé, 80 years of the king who conquered the football Olympus

Alba Santandreu

Sao Paulo, 23 (EFE) .- Edson Arantes do Nascimento 'Pelé', the king, turned 80 this Friday. He did it “lucid”, despite his health problems, and sure of having “made a little mistake” in a life marked by records that placed him at the top of the football Olympus.

If the Brazilian star is absolutely certain of something, it is that God was “very good” to him in his eight decades of life, in which he won three World Cups, more than 1,000 goals and the title of the best player of the 20th century.

Not only did he internationalize football, but thanks to his beautiful game he managed to put Brazil on the map.

“With Santos we dignified and made the name of Brazil known to the world. Until that time in many parts of the world they asked us if the capital of Brazil was Buenos Aires,” said the former soccer player, who remains confined at his home in Guarujá, on the coast of Sao Paulo.


Pelé was born in October 1940 in Tres Corazones, a small town in Minas Gerais, where for years he kicked a fabric ball barefoot before moving with his family to Baurú, in Sao Paulo.

Before becoming a myth, Pelé was “Dico”, a boy who polished shoes in the street to help his father, the true “architect” of the legend who dazzled the world with some unprecedented dribbles.

Pelé used to say that his father could not hold back his tears during the 'Maracanazo', as is remembered for the “tragic” final of the 1950 World Cup in which Brazil lost 2-1 to Uruguay, and, while still a child, made him the Oath of his life: “Don't cry dad, I'm going to win a World Cup for you.”

Just ten years later, in 1958, at the age of 17, he fulfilled his promise. The eternal '10' was a key piece in the final of the World Cup in Sweden, in which Brazil won 2-5, with two goals from the teenager Edson.

Brazil crowned its new king, a master in the art of scoring goals and a born dribbler who showed the world that football was also a matter for the poor and black.

With the national team, after the glory in 1958, Pelé played the World Cup in Chile'62, but celebrated the title off the field due to injury. England'66 was a tournament to forget, once again injured by the hard tackles of the rivals and with Brazil eliminated, but the striker returned with more strength in Mexico'70, when many did not believe that at thirty he would be the great bastion of that World Cup.

No other player has won more World Cups to date than him.

He dedicated practically his entire career to the Brazilian Santos, a team in which he played for almost two decades and won six of the eight League titles and two of the three Libertadores Cups that the São Paulo club has in its showcases, in addition to the only two Club World Cups. Of the entity.

The living legend of Santos left the club in 1974 and went to the American Cosmos, where he played until his final retirement, in 1977, in the first big step to professionalize 'soccer' in North America.

After hanging up his boots, Pelé, who was married three times, the last in 2016, and has seven recognized children, was the UN Ambassador and Minister of Sports for former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-1998).

He tried his role as a singer, made his first steps in the world of cinema and profited from advertising, a business that has led him to tiptoe in some controversial aspects such as racism.


His unmistakable talent was discovered at the age of eleven by the footballer Waldemar de Brito, who in 1956 took him to the modest Baurú and presented him as the “boy who will be the best soccer player in the world.”

De Brito was not wrong. Decades later, FIFA crowned him the best footballer of the 20th century, a distinction he shares with Argentine Diego Maradona.

Their recognition went beyond the borders of Brazil and they say that in 1969, during a civil conflict in Nigeria, rival forces declared a truce so that Pelé and his team, Santos, could act in the African country, although the version has been questioned by some researchers.

That same year, Pelé was the great protagonist in his country. Several Brazilian cities wanted to celebrate the player's thousandth goal without caring the fans that it was scored against their own team, even booing local goalkeepers and defenders who avoided the historic score.

But it was at the legendary Maracana stadium, in a match against Vasco da Gama, when Pelé achieved that personal best and dedicated it to children.

Around that time a new anecdote emerged in its history. When Santos was on tour in Colombia, local referee Guillermo 'Chato' Velásquez sent him off to the disappointment of the public at the El Campín stadium. The judge was pressured to withdraw and Pelé returned to the field of play.


Pelé's health is weakened, which has kept him confined in his home with his closest family and friends and away from the media spotlight.

He has been admitted to the hospital several times in recent times and his mobility is reduced due to his hip problems, which have forced him to use a wheelchair.

It was precisely this lack of mobility that, according to his son, caused him a depression earlier this year. Pele, however, took the issue down and said he was “fine.”

He ratified it just a few days ago, at the gates of his 80 years, when he sent a video to thank God for everything he achieved in life,

“I have to thank God for the health of getting here, at this age, and lucid, not very intelligent, but lucid,” joked the eternal Brazilian king. EFE

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