RIO DE JANEIRO, October 23, 2020 – On October 23, 1940, in the city of Três Corações, Minas Gerais, a boy was born, who would transform the vision of world football less than 18 years later. Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé for the world, celebrates his 80th birthday today. Perhaps the most long-lived sportsman to fill the reports throughout history – of course, no longer scoring goals and enchanting the public, but always participating in some way in football events.
The world became aware of Pelé at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. In other words, of the 96 years that our AIPS has history, there are 62 of us, sports journalists, in some way talking about Pelé. Be it extolling his qualities in winning his first world title, even before turning 18; whether speaking of his unprecedented transfer to New York Cosmos, in the first attempt to spread soccer in the United States; whether commenting on his thousandth goal, from a penalty spot, one night at Maracanã.
Time is cruel for everyone. Not even the Athlete of the Century would be able to overcome it. Even so, with the same refined technique with which he overcame his markers, Pelé is avoiding his health problems and is there. Even those who have not seen him performing in the stadiums are excited to see the brilliant moves that his talent has produced, whether in the mythical Maracanã or in a small stadium in the interior of São Paulo – not to mention the countless spectacles on the world’s lawns.
Pelé, according to the so-called statistics, scored 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches (including friendly, unofficial matches). For the Brazilian soccer team, he won three World Cups (Sweden, 1958; Chile, 1962; and Mexico, 1970) – the only player to achieve this feat. For Santos, his only team in Brazil, he won twice the Libertadores da América (1962 and 1963) and the Intercontinental de Clubes.
Among his numerous awards, the Player of the Century was chosen by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), and the Best Player of the Century by FIFA. The International Olympic Committee chose him too as the Athlete of the Century. All this in 1999. The citizen Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pelé himself makes this distinction in his speeches) was Minister of Sport in Brazil.
As already mentioned, Pelé has been part of the daily life of sports journalists for over six decades. There would not be an article capable of summarizing everything he did and what was said about him. All sports journalists dream of being able to interview him, to be by his side. Many succeeded. Today, due to health problems, he barely appears. For these ironies of life, he needs a walker to get around. Even so, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, the boy Pelé, has reached his 80s.
Long live to the king! -Aips