Pele’s Brazil heroics made the World Cup a global success


in the past Champions League Football has become a contemporary global powerhouse World Cup It was seen as the top of the game not only in terms of prestige, but also in terms of standards, strategic development and personal achievements. And the name Pele is synonymous with the tournament. He built the game well into the moment when Brazil established themselves as the greatest and most attractive force on the planet, everyone’s favorite “other” team.

Born in 1940 — just 52 years after Brazil abolished slavery — he took his leave as the undisputed king of the global game. He was named Edson Arantes do Nascimento after Thomas Edison – he was born when electricity was introduced in his remote town of Tres Coracos in the state of Minas Gerais. A fitting name for a player who would light up the game of football.

He did not set out on a global mission. At the age of 9, he was moved by his father’s tears as he heard Brazil’s loss to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup final on the radio. The child will avenge the father’s cry. In 1950 Brazil was still wearing white. Twenty years later their yellow shirts were synonymous with the beautiful game, winning in style.

His is a story where natural talent meets drive and ambition. Pele’s father, known as Dondinho, was a highly-rated player who suffered an injury that essentially ended his chances of playing football on what should have been his big break. The family was plunged into poverty and the young man earned some cash as a shoe boy.

She had to overcome strong maternal resistance to take up the sport; Football was an unsafe profession, his mother argued, where you were only one hit away from the scrap heap. The young Pele — the origin of the nickname was never fully explained, and he basically hated it — paid attention. He gave himself the best chance of success by making the most of his enormous potential.

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Brazilian soccer superstar Pele won three World Cup championships before ending his career with the New York Cosmos.

Pele’s history with the World Cup is a classic play in three acts. As a 17-year-old in Sweden in 1958, the hero made his appearance and looks stunning. But this progress was hampered by setbacks: injury cut short his campaign as Brazil triumphed once more in 1962, and four years later they were eliminated early on.With his claim to greatness in the competition doubted, he decided not to play in another World Cup, and in 1970 in Mexico His crowning glory, which was the first to be televised around the world, while the extraordinary quality of images and the highest quality team set the standard by which all subsequent Brazilian teams have been judged.

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Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the story is that Pele was not at his best at the World Cup. In 1958 he was exuberant but raw, an outstanding work in progress. Twelve years later he knew all the tricks, was technically brilliant and had the composure in the penalty area that most players can only achieve in the wide open spaces of midfield. But he bulked up, and lost some of the mobility of his peak years.

His best World Cup goal came in 1962, a tournament that, had it not been for injury, could have marked his definitive statement as a footballing genius. After picking up an injury in the second match against Czechoslovakia, he did not take part in the competition. But in the opening game against Mexico he used all the attributes of a man in his prime to attack opposition defences, seizing opportunities and providing power and pace, changes of pace and amazing two-foot control.

Pele’s dribbling was not like that Lionel Messi, the ball tied his left boot. In Pele’s case, the ball appeared to bounce around him like an obedient puppy. “If Pele had not been born a man,” writes Armando Nogueira, one of his greatest historians, “he would have been born a ball.”

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Frank LeBoeuf commemorates the death of Brazilian football legend Pele, who died this week at the age of 82.

With skill and body, hard work and intelligence, he became a football machine. All these qualities are evident in matches considered the best of his career. In 1962 the champions of Europe and South America met each other to decide what was then the world club title. At first, Benfica Lost 3-2 to Portugal Santos Brazil, for whom Pele scored twice. The Portuguese were confident of overcoming the deficit in Lisbon but Pele ran riot, scoring three and setting up others as Santos went 5-0 up. Benfica’s two goals in the last five minutes were a mere consolation. The tapes of those matches reveal a footballing force of nature, a player so different that he seems to belong to a different species.

A few years later, in preparation for the 1966 World Cup, young Tostao was called up to Brazil for the first time. In Mexico 1970, the Pele-Tostao combination would dazzle the world, but at this point Tostao was little more than a young hopeful, grateful to share training sessions with his idols from the 1958 and ’62 triumphs. With characteristic shrewdness, Tostao soon realized that most of the old-timers were past their prime. Pele was on top though. Tostao’s father, a football fan, attended a training session, and broke down in tears when his son was introduced to Pele. “It was as if he were in the presence of his God,” Tostao told me years later.

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Barcelona manager Javi Hernandez has paid tribute to Brazilian football legend Pele, calling him a “reference for an entire generation”.

Inevitably, over time there was a price to be paid for such idolatry. Pele was surrounded by more than his fair share of “yes men” and exploits. All of his announcements and financial options were unwise. The balance, though, is overwhelmingly positive. Not least because as Brazil’s sports minister in the mid-’90s, Pele worked hard to bring contract freedom to Brazilian players — a drive based on an admission that at the height of his influence as a player, he didn’t always do it. Substantial use of its power for collective causes.

But it is as a footballer that he should and should be remembered, as he has brought great joy to countless millions. For almost 20 years he was part of a Santos team that was one of the best club teams of all time. In the mid-70s he came out of retirement to shine for the New York Cosmos and gave a considerable boost to the development of the game in the United States.

More than anything else, Pele was world royalty, the king of the World Cup. His health seemed to take a turn for the worse as he played the tournament in Qatar. He was, it seemed, healthy enough both to follow the competition and – more importantly – to feel the love and respect emanating from the football community.

And in leading Brazil to the top, Pele also ensured that football would be the No. 1 sport on the planet, and that the World Cup would be his quadrennial feast. The legends that came after him were, after all, living in the house he built.


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