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Towards the quarter-finals: in Pele's shoes Israel today


Against the Croatian national team, Neymar may break a record, but in Brazil they know who will remain the greatest witness of all

On Monday evening, immediately after the Brazilian national team defeated South Korea 1:4 in a wonderful display of football that had not been seen for many, many years, something special and different happened.

Instead of wildly celebrating the promotion to the quarter-finals, the Selção players went to the bench, pulled out a rolled up banner that had been prepared ahead of time, and placed it in the center of the field.

They all lined up behind the poster, on which there was one picture and one four-letter word - PELE!

No explanations were needed.

Everything was clear and understandable.

The players of the Brazil Model 2022 team, none of whom were born when Pele was juggling the pitches, know that they are here in large part thanks to the 82-year-old man, who is fighting for his life at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo.

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He also knows who is the greatest of all, photo: GettyImages

"O Rey", the king - this is Pele's official nickname in Brazil;

Who at the age of 17 and a half scored a brace in the 1958 World Cup final and led Brazil to its first World Cup victory, and who in 1970 was the symbol of the greatest team of all time, which won Mexico's third World Cup for the Selção.

If in Argentina there is a debate about who is greater, Diego Maradona or Leo Messi - in Brazil there is no debate, and there never will be.

Pele was and will remain the greatest of all.


The one who knows Pele the best among the Brazilian national team players is Neymar, who started his career at Santos, the team where Pele played most of his career.

Neymar played for Santos for four years, since his debut at the age of 17. He scored 136 goals in 225 games in the team's uniform, and already when he was 20 years old he became the number one player in Brazil.

The media in the country were quick to call Neymar "Pela's heir", and the fact that they both played for the same team only strengthened the narrative.

Pele, who used to come almost regularly to Santos' games, fell in love with the young and talented player, and despite the age difference, a friendly bond was formed between them.

Over the years they have met countless times, and Neymar also came to visit Pele in the hospital when he was hospitalized for the first time a few years ago.

At the beginning of the week, news began to arrive from Brazil about the medical condition of Pele, who is suffering from colon cancer.

In one of them, it was reported that the chemotherapy treatments stopped having an effect, and that Pele was transferred to the terminally ill ward.

The Brazilian delegation in Qatar had already prepared for the worst.

It was really an absurd scenario, that the king of football would pass away precisely while the team is playing in the World Cup and so close to winning the sixth World Cup.

A few hours later, new reports came in that contradicted the dramatic news.

Pele himself posted a message in which he wrote: "I will encourage each of you. I want to inspire you, friends. We are on this journey together. Good luck to our Brazil!"

Neymar, the team's biggest star, who was injured in the first match against Serbia and did not play against Switzerland and Cameroon, returned to the lineup and looked excellent.

He also scored a goal, on a penalty kick, his 76th goal in the Celso uniform.

On Friday, in the quarter-finals against Croatia, Neymar may match or even surpass Pele, the team's all-time leading scorer, who scored 77 times in the yellow shirt.

Even if he reaches this historic achievement, Neymar will not claim that he is discriminatory.

Because no one is greater than discrimination.

It is more likely that he will dedicate the gate to him and pray for his recovery.

Brazil takes the match against Croatia very seriously, and is aware that the world runner-up does not intend to give up in advance.

And this is why no one in the Brazilian camp is talking about the possible semi-final meeting against Argentina yet.

Nor does anyone mention the possible duel between the two good friends Neymar and Messi, who played together in Barcelona and now collaborate in Paris Saint-Germain.

No one talks about it publicly - but there is no one who does not think about it.

Argentina's greatest former star, Diego Armando Maradona, passed away two years ago.

He will no longer watch his successors win the World Cup.

But in Brazil, everyone is praying that King Pele will get to see Neymar and his friends lift the trophy at the Lusail Stadium in just over a week.

And if it happens, it will be a double and redoubled celebration.

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Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2022-12-08

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