On December 29, 2022, football lost its king.
Pelé died in Sao Paulo, plunging Brazil into immense sadness and leaving all football lovers orphaned.
The ex-scorer prodigy had become the universal ambassador of the game. He remains an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Among the documentaries that pay homage to him by retracing the incredible destiny of the man and the extraordinary exploits of the player, two invite themselves into nostalgic homes.
It is first of all the fascination for Pelé, Brazilian sun and football legend, which feeds the documentary directed by Stéphane Castier and Tristan Scohy, available on the L'Équipe Explore platform.
It is as if Jesus had designated him by saying to him: 'You will be the best'
Rhythmic and swaying like the flights of the player, the film (35 minutes) revives formidable archive images in black and white.
It reveals a multitude of more or less forgotten details, which built the legend of genius.
A real pleasure to remember.
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It is on the ground that Pelé won his letters of nobility.
And we enjoy excerpts from the match which bring to life the explosiveness and flashes of the exceptional player.
Pelé was a striker… but also a goalkeeper, sometimes.
A position he has held four times in an official match.
In the white jersey of his darling Santos FC – he will not know any other club before leaving for Cosmos New York – Pelé is a goalscorer obsessed with his statistics, who played up to 120 matches a year.
Capable of claiming five penalties in a series of a friendly match between the Brazilian selection and an OM-ASSE agreement in France in 1972. Benoit Heimermann, journalist for L'Équipe, recalls: "
Pelé scored 8 goals in a match official with Santos, six times 5 goals and ninety times 3 goals!
“Before his death, the phenomenon claimed 1283 goals scored in his career.
Author of a hat-trick against the Blues in the semi-final of the 1958 World Cup when he was only 17 years old, Pelé maintained a special relationship with France during his career.
That day, what he did on the pitch against us disgusted me and made me want to hang up my boots,
" said Just Fontaine, top scorer in the event with 13 goals, to the camera. record still in progress.
Paris-Match then designates Pelé as the "
King of Brazil
" for the first time in its pages.
This nickname will be picked up around the world.
Call me what you want, but never call me sir...
", the interested party, in love with Paris, will often repeat.
Goals, records, success: Pelé, a life of football in pictures
Go to slideshow (17)
Facing the camera, the great Georges Carnus relives the face-to-face with Pelé experienced during the France-Brazil of 1963, in Colombes.
His first game in the France team.
In front of the yellowed photo of the shot on goal taken from the stands, he affirms: "
There I was not laughing...
" And his memory delights the viewer when he says: "
He, with the ball, which arrived alone in front of you, you pray the Good Lord so that he doesn't make you miserable!
Read also“Pelé: a man of the world”
First cathodic star
Focusing more on his personality, the documentary produced by Netflix and soberly titled Pelé, was released before his death in 2021. Retracing the irresistible rise of Dondinho's son, it offers the opportunity to learn more about the man and behind the scenes.
“The girls wanted him to be their husband, the boys dreamed of him being their brother, the parents their child”, immediately note directors David Tryhorn and Ben Nicholas, who visit the icon at his home, in his home in Sao Paulo.
In the introduction of 108 moving minutes, Pelé appears first as a sick old man in a walker then in his wheelchair, nostalgic for his hours of glory, as if he felt the end of his life approaching.
Before coming back to life, his curious and questioning round eyes.
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Surrounded by his former Santos FC teammates, the one they very naturally call "the king" quickly finds his smile when he talks about his country and his family.
Memories come flooding back.
"He gave the most promising image of a child from poor neighborhoods," says Maria Lucia, his sister.
"I couldn't go out anymore.
Everyone wanted to see little Pelé.
I had a lot of trouble getting used to it, ”adds the person concerned.
Large technical resources, archive images galore, high-speed editing... The film connects high-end testimonials: politician, journalist, ex-players including the unforgettable Paulo César... All deliver a unanimous opinion which consecrates Pelé as greatest footballer of all time, the one who invented everything and will remain the one and only King of the game for eternity.
“I do not believe in the existence of the best player in the world, however concludes Pelé.
You have to be the best in every position.
And that's not possible…”
Ambassador of football in the USA, first sportsman to become the muse of a video game… Pelé was a precursor.
Pelé is magic, he's my idol,
" admits Bruno Guimarães, the 24-year-old Brazilian player who played for Olympique Lyonnais.
Pelé died on December 29, 2022 and no player will ever manage to dethrone the king.
Call me what you want, he would say, but never call me sir…