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king of king sport


Would you stand out as much playing in Europe as you did in South America? The doubt offended me, geniuses transcend geographies and times

I believe that Di Stéfano was a football revolutionary, I worship Johan Cruyff, I am a generational, devout and grateful fan of


and I do not allow anyone to say, in my presence, that Messi is inferior to anyone.

But on a low table in my office I have only one book: a compendium of the World Cups published in 1998 by



A very large book that has been around for more than 20 years.

And it is there because on the cover there is a wonderful photo of Pelé without the ball in between, which expresses the light, joy, beauty and passion of football.

Because Pelé was for me, before being a player, an inspiration.

I even have the word


incorporated into my vocabulary as something that totalizes soccer, like the word


or the word



In my early childhood I came into my hands a comic dedicated to Pelé

illustrious figures

and I read it until I took the magazine apart.

How not to be fascinated?

He was a humble boy who made his Santos debut at the age of 15 and soon turned Brazil into world champion, Santos into

Pelé's Santos

and himself into king by popular election.

King of Football.

King of the king sport.

First I saw it play in my head, from photos that I saw in newspapers and magazines that activated my imagination.

In the magazine

El Gráfico

, the sports bible of the time, saw that body as if it were a football postcard and the things that were said about it seemed magical.

I speak of a time when words still held legends.

I didn't have the opportunity to see Pelé play live and I also had to wait a long time to enjoy it thanks to television.

Hidden from me, Pelé continued to raise Cups and every week he traveled to play friendlies that showcased him as a hero throughout the world.

In addition to his charisma, there was the point of mystery typical of the time that helped to idealize him.

In Europe they only saw him from time to time and those fleeting steps left certainties about his colossal talent, but also questions that were difficult to answer.

The most common: would he stand out playing in Europe as much as he did in South America?

The doubt offended me.

If at this point the answer is worth anything, here is mine: of course it is.

Geniuses transcend geographies and eras.

When the 1970 World Cup arrived, Pelé was 30 years old, I was 14 and my mother agreed to buy a television.

It would be the first time that I would be able to see professional soccer players play.

An exciting event that I will never forget.

Above all, because the television entered the kitchen of my house with Pelé inside.

Everything I saw in that World Cup did not disappoint the idealization of football that had been provoked by radio voices and newspaper articles.

But each game in Brazil was a superb choral work, where Pelé was in charge of what was different.

As if in the middle of the game, activated by a ball, an astonishing magician appeared on the scene with a wonderful animal instinct that no one else had.

Despite my


, I cried with joy seeing how Brazil lifted the Cup and how Pelé was carried on his shoulders in what was his definitive consecration.

Many years later I came across the chronicle of that final signed by the journalist and writer Armando Nogueira, which begins in this wonderful way: "And the words, I who live on them, where are they?"

I remember myself alone in that kitchen and although I was already pointing out ways as an agnostic, I felt that God wanted to tell me something every time Pelé touched the ball.

A 14-year-old boy had no words to describe the emotion he felt either, but looking at those moments from here, I have little doubt that those days shaped my taste for elegant, cunning and courageous football.

It was that Brazil, and especially Pelé, that made me believe that football could be, among many other things, a work of art.

other things


works of art

, but my sensibility was already marked forever.

In that Brazil everyone played wonderfully, but Pelé didn't need to make an effort to be different.

He invented spontaneous solutions for all problems, which was an always different aesthetic experience.

We are talking about an athlete with a harmonious stride, so much so that it was beautiful to see him run.

Very strong muscularly, a useful virtue for braking, starting, jumping, all essential products to make his football unbalanced.

He also of courage he was doing well.

Those who marked him agreed that, at the beginning of the games, Pelé warned them: "If they hit me, I'll hit."

And in those times, what the new generations cannot imagine stuck.

As he warned, Pelé responded with a sense of proportion.

And now yes, ladies and gentlemen, His Majesty arrives the ball at Pelé's feet.

There were no weak points here.

He drove, he dribbled, he passed, and he shot with both legs;

his peripheral gaze went from close and medium to long distance to enable teammates with precision and a poison that opened up a new landscape for the play.

His head, always raised, was an essential part of the grace of his figure.

In the area he had an inexhaustible repertoire that is expressed in the 767 official goals and many more than a thousand, if we count the friendlies.

His football repertoire was vast.

Here is a small sample.

It is known that when he stepped on the area and there was no possible association with a teammate, he threw walls with the rivals.

As simple as using the opponents' legs as a real wall, he would throw them hard and before they could react, Pelé had already seized the rebound.

The next step was called goal.

César Luis Menotti, who was his teammate at Santos, says that he jumped to head and, in the air, did a double jump, stopping it with his chest and then shooting.

The goalkeepers got excited and, when he stopped it with his chest, they went out to get there before the ball fell to their feet.

But be careful: when the goalkeeper was halfway, Pelé would stick his head in like a turtle and head over the exit.

Goal again.

For those Menotti things,

I never knew how to compare times and I think it is irrelevant at this time or at any time.

He was not the only one who, within a court, seduced me until I succumbed to his charm, but he was the first.

I love what Pelé gave me and it's enough to say thank you forever.

When football was behind us both, I met Pelé in different areas and on several occasions.

Whenever I found him, his mere presence made me smile, as if awakening the dreams of the child I was.

That is why I think that something very serious happened today: Pelé died.

In the farewell he takes a part of my childhood, but he leaves me, nothing less, than the love of football.

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Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2022-12-30

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