Best described as poetry in motion, it was Pele’s character on and off the field that made him a superstar
December 29, 2022 will go down in history as a sad day as the world lost 20th century’s iconic sports star Pele who breathed his last at the age of 82. The name Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, is likely to evoke a cold stare. But the name Pele is certain to bring a sense of respect, admiration and love as it was synonymous with classic football as well as sportsman spirit of the highest order. Born in a ghetto in the State of Minas Gerais in Brazil, this poor lad rose to become the sporting world’s all-time great through his artistry. Critics describe his as a poetry in motion as he cut through any kind of defense line to score goals from positions non-existent in the radars of the rivals. What added to the beauty of his game was his character on and off the field. Pele was the highest-paid sportsman in his playing days. Brazil became famous because of Pele and football. What Pele gave to the world was not just football, he excelled in beautiful football which made Brazil the world champions in 1958, 1962 and 1970. The combination of Pele, Garrincha, Zagallo was a lethal combination as the rivals and spectators stood in awe when they mesmerized the maidans with their magic. Connoisseurs of the game say that had Pele not retired from international football at the age of 30 in 1970, Brazil would have won the world cup in 1974 too. Remember, Lionel Messi led Argentina to the winners’ podium at the age of 35!
In his 14 years career for the Brazilian national team, this Black Pearl scored 77 goals from 92 international outings. The world had to wait till 2022 to see Neymar equaling Pele’s record of 12 goals scored in 14 world cup appearances from 1957 to 1970. The King of the Beautiful Game returned to football in 1975 by signing with Cosmos FC of New York which was a shot in the arm for the New World. India, nay, Calcutta, the soccer city of India, got a chance to see Pele in action in 1977 as he led Cosmos to play an exhibition match against Mohun Bagan at the age of 37! The match ended in a 2-2 draw as the visitors were restrained from going all out because the overnight rains had made the pitch unplayable. Perseverance, artistry, skill and stamina were his secrets. The world will miss Pele, the superstar of modern football.
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