There is only one way to refer to the King of world soccer with four letters: Pelé.
Much more than a legend.
Much more important than the infinite and vain debate on the hierarchy in Olympus, the order of Di Stéfano, Pelé, Cruyff, Maradona and Messi, the ones that produce the most consensus when it comes to classifying the most mythologized myths.
Each one had their own, Pelé had everything.
In him there was a magical coincidence.
Di Stéfano ended his career in 1966, just when television was no longer a luxury.
The World Cup finals had been broadcast since 1958, but only a privileged few could see the oral legend that was already circulating about Pelé, the son of Dondinho, a modest ex-player retired due to an injury at the age of 24 who was revered by his offspring -said the genius, with absolute devotion,
Pelé, 'O Rei' of football, dies at the age of 82
The boy Pelé was a prodigy ever since Walter Brito, a Brazilian international in the 1934 World Cup, was fascinated to see him play for the Bauru Atletic Club, a club from a municipality in the state of São Paulo to which the family had moved for his football career. from Dondinho.
With the clinical eye of Walter Brito, Pelé ended up making his debut with Santos at the age of 16, at 17 he made his debut with Canarinha with a goal against the solemn Argentine goalkeeper Amadeo Carrizo and before he was 18 he was already a world champion after his adolescent adventures in Sweden.
The story of the Brazilian wonder was heard or read, but beyond Brazil and the lucky ones who followed him live on one of Santos' universal tours or in the World Cups in Sweden and Chile (1962), Pelé was just a fable. for the great public.
How to take for real that feat that his teammates and rivals recounted in amazement after a duel with Juventus from Brazil.
It was 1959, and the forward of Santos, the “Ballet Blanco”: Dorval, Mengalvio, Coutinho, Pelé and Pepe, was already a national phenomenon.
According to witnesses, that day against Barau, O Rei threw four hats, the last one at the rival goalkeeper, and scored with his head into an empty goal.
The goal was never filmed.
Very much in line with Pelé, author of the best non-goal goals in the soccer treasure archive.
The header that made the save of the Englishman Gordon Banks sublime, the parable to the Czech goalkeeper Ivo Viktor, the mocking bow - the body on one side, the ball on the other - against the Uruguayan Ladislao Mazurkiewicz... The people astonished before the tabelinhas, the walls fascinating that O Rei and Coutinho lavished.
Everything in Pelé was magical,
what he did enthroned him, what he was supposed to do deified him.
A cunning footballer, in a top hat, with a privileged physique, who was intimate like few others with the goal.
The first great Houdini that transcended in such a way.
Pelé arrived at the World Cup in Sweden as a substitute.
His position corresponded to José Altafani, an Italian-Brazilian who left a great mark on Calcio (Naples, Milan, Juventus, Torino), where he was nicknamed Mazzola because he evoked the great Valentino Mazzola, star of the tragic Torino who crashed in Superga in 1949. In the third game of the Scandinavian event, Pelé already paraded as a starter and scored in the three that remained, against Wales, France and Sweden.
In total, six goals in four games.
His tears after winning the final against the host team, with his double, symbolized an ecstatic child at a world peak.
And what a child
The first of the two goals that he sealed in the final was anthological.
He received a center from Zagallo - who would be his coach in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, the masterpiece of Brazil,
the apotheosis of the best team in history-, threw two hats, the first with a do of chest and holed.
Pelé during a game with Santos in 1968. Boston Globe (Boston Globe via Getty Images)
The Brazilian star's career was limited to Santos and Brazil.
He never embarked on Europe, which was always reproached from some sectors.
With Santos he won 45 titles.
And the Peixe, as the São Paulo team is nicknamed, squeezed him so much from tour to tour that his body suffered more and more frequently.
In Chile 62, a groin problem prevented him from playing more than two games, in which he scored a goal.
In England 66, the Portuguese massacre, with Morais as the main slaughterer, left Pelé almost without a tournament (two games, one goal) and Brazil in the ditch in the first phase.
Quite an impact, the double champion into exile in a jiffy.
The resurrection of Pelé and Brazil would be extraordinary.
The best selection in history was brewing.
Destination: Mexico 70.
José Saldanha was quite a character.
Botafogo footballer, he went through sports journalism, was a coach and member of the Communist Party.
His arrival at the head of the Canarinha had his crumb.
There are those who always suspected that the president of the Brazilian federation -and later of FIFA-, João Havelange, gave him the position with the anticipation that the criticism would be benevolent because he was one of the guild.
Saldanha was a peculiar type, even he came to threaten revolver in hand.
The dictatorship wanted to impose players on him, to which the communist selector refused.
It was so difficult to twist his arm that he took Pele to the dark room of the substitution in a friendly with Bulgaria, a colossal event in all of Brazil.
The scandal was such that a few months before the 1970 World Cup, Saldanha was replaced by Mario Zagallo, Pelé's former international teammate.
Zagallo gathered the Praetorians of the squad at the Das Palmeiras hotel in Rio, they defined the role of each one and the totemic forward of the Five Tens emerged, because all of them, the four mentioned plus Pelé, were tens in their teams, although Jairzinho -who would score in all the games on Mexican soil, a unique record in the history of the World Cups- had been before the move as a winger.
Brazil devastated and fascinated equally in the Mexican tournament, in which Pelé, who had hinted four years earlier that he would not return to the national team, lifted his third Cup after scoring four goals in six games, one of them in the final against Italy .
By then, with the TV already as a common appliance,
no one doubted that the throne of world soccer had a single King.
The one that allowed a unique footballer to be specified in four letters: Pelé.
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