Pelé has been chosen as the athlete of the 20th century and is considered by all to be the greatest footballer in all of history. But for you, Edson Arantes do Nascimiento, in your words, who is Pelé?
Delighted, it's me (Serie). Everyone forgot about Edson, but this is me, Pelé (Serie). No one remembers Edson, but it is Edson who pays the bills, who suffers, who cries … Pelé is the one who gets all the fame and tributes. Pelé is a son of God that he put on Earth and asked me to take care of him….
How did your nickname come about?
My father played for Bauru Atlético and there was a goalkeeper named Bilé. He was my father's rival. And the boys, to piss me off, called me Bilé, which later led to Pelé, and I fought with them because I didn't like it. And you know that when you don't like a nickname, you end up staying. If it wasn't for those kids in Bauru, Edson would never have been Pele.
When did you realize you would be great in soccer?
I never imagined that it would be one of the greats. I swear. I remember when the president of Santos called my father when I was little. I thought it was a joke. He was 13 or 14 years old and was not a starter at Bauru. In the end they took me to do the test at the Santos and I was approved. I thought I was dreaming. There are things from that day that I remember as if it were today… I remember my father taking me to the bus station. It seemed like something from another planet, but today the players go on a private jet. How's life…
“I'm better now and the only thing I can't do is ride a bicycle”
What is the goal you remember every day on the pillow?
Undoubtedly, the goals that I do not forget are those of the 1958 World Cup. I had not even turned 18! He was the youngest player in the World Cup and Brazil had never won the tournament. I also remember a lot of the thousandth goal. It wasn't a World Cup, it wasn't worth anything, but it made me shake my legs even though I was already a veteran player. I do not know if I stay with the first goal of 1958 or if with goal 1,000.
After Pelé, who is the soccer player that you liked the most to see play?
It would be unfair for me to say one and forget the others. There were players I saw and said, “I want to learn how to do it the same.” I wanted to be like my father, who has the record for leading goals in one game: five. This is Dondinho's record that Pelé was unable to beat. In front of the goal, I broke all records. But five heads goals …
If you played today, what would your career have been like?
I think it would not change anything. One of the biggest concerns of my entire career was taking care of my fitness more than anyone.
Racism | “Against Argentina they already called us 'monkeys', but nobody found out”
Is being a footballer today easier or more difficult than before?
Much more difficult. In my time I think we had more freedom. It gave us time to stop the ball. Not now. Before they played with and for the ball, now they only want to destroy. Who pays to go to football does not pay to see defense. We gave more spectacle than current football. But it is a very big difference.
They say you are depressed from all the physical and health problems you have had in recent years …
I think there is a big misunderstanding there. Because after hip and femur surgeries, when I was going to try to train or make an announcement, I had to stop. People started to worry and I appreciate that. But they have invented that I am depressed. I came here by walker, but the only thing I don't do today is ride a bike. I preferred to be walking normally, without a walker, training from time to time, playing soccer. But, thank God, I am much better, I am recovering.
What do you think of the cases of racism that are happening in football?
The only thing that has changed is that these cases are now coming to light. Before, a player would tell you a silly thing and it would be there. It happened when we were going to play in Europe. Also against Argentina, who called us monkeys and chimpanzees. But before, no one found out and there was no scandal.
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