Electricity had just arrived in the municipality of Três Corações, in Minas Gerais, when on October 23, 1940 the first child of Dondinho and Celeste was born. They named him Edson, in homage to inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Later he would become Pelé, the best player of all time.
That and other stories are collected in an interactive exhibition that opens its doors from this Thursday at the Sao Paulo Soccer Museum, at the foot of the mythical Pacaembú stadium, on the occasion of the 80 years of the black 'menino' who conquered the world with his skill, his charisma and his work for peace and childhood.
The exhibition reviews the biography of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, From his humble origins in which he began to work as a kid selling peanuts and cleaning boots in a train station, going through the 18 years he was at Santos and the three World Cups he won with Brazil, until his retirement in 1977.
A life full of sporting successes that managed to break with the structural racism of his country and surpassed the soccer fields to become a global social phenomenon.
A sample for the new generations
Under the curatorship of Gringo Cardia, this journey through the trajectory of the Brazilian star includes 444 animated photographs, videos with his best plays and testimonies from various personalities, such as singer-songwriter Chico Buarque, who explain to new generations why Pelé is the King of football.
“The generation of our grandparents saw Pelé play, my generation saw Pelé as a media figure, appearing in programs, as a great idol, but the younger generation does not know him as much”, explains to Efe Marilia Bonas, technical director of the Football Museum.
The youngest are the target audience of this exhibition that has chosen to use innovative languages, new technologies and interactive games to discover the secrets of the world champion in 1958, 1962 and 1970, in order to keep his legacy alive.
“The figure of Pelé speaks a lot about the trajectory of Brazil. He talks about the position of being a soccer player and also of being black because, despite racism, he is the great figure of Brazil”, Bonas highlights, in front of a huge figure of Pelé who welcomes visitors.
One of the most moving exhibition installations brings the testimony of a young Pelé, played by an actor in a Santos jersey, who explains to other children how he became a world soccer star.
A few years after he was born, he and his family moved to the town of Bauru, in the interior of Sao Paulo. His father, Joao Ramos do Nascimento, better known as Dondinho, was trying to make his way as a soccer player and signed for Lusitana, now Bauru Atlético Club (BAC).
Pelé absorbed that passion for football from the cradle and at just nine years old he promised his father that he would bring him a World Cup after seeing him cry inconsolably after listening to the 1950 final between Brazil and Uruguay, the 'Maracanazo' on the radio.
Pelé's first steps
He began to emerge in the teams of the region and with 15 years he packs his bags to sign for Santos, where he met the sea for the first time. The legend began. It was 1956. Two years later he raised his first World Cup in Sweden, the first in Canarinha, to fulfill the promise he made to his father.
The world then began to speak of this 17-year-old, black, poor, who invented impossible dribbles and passes and scored anthological goals with astonishing ease. Pelé monopolized the covers of the most prestigious specialized magazines and received offers from the big European clubs.
But he decided to stay in Santos and turn the Albinegro team into an almost invincible soccer machine that marked an era in the 60s and 70s. Pelé led a golden generation that was completed by other names such as Dorval, Melgávio, Coutinho and Pepe, among others.
For When he left Santos in 1974, he was already a three-time world champion and a celebrity. He chose to end his career in the Cosmos in New York to bring the seed of 'soccer' to a country dominated by basketball, baseball and American football.
It was the final touch to a career that ended with 1,283 goals, according to the former forward's accounts, although there are also those that count 1,281 or 1,282. The number varies depending on the source.
What does not change is the fact that Pelé was the architect that today Brazil is known as “the country of soccer.” A dreamer who broke borders in an adverse context and whose legacy he tries to keep present among the generation of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.