FTwo civil war parties interrupted the killing for him, after his 1000th goal the church bells rang even in the Amazon and 180,000 spectators made the pilgrimage to the farewell game at the legendary Maracanã stadium: Edson Arantes do Nascimento – better known around the world as Pelé – is dead. The creator of one died with him Stiles, who made football the sport’s global superpower. And with him, 20th-century football is finally history. He was no longer able to defeat his last opponent, cancer. Pele died on Thursday at the age of 82. This was confirmed by the Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo on Thursday. The funeral is scheduled to take place in his hometown of Santos on Tuesday, his longtime club FC Santos said. The public wake is scheduled for Monday.
The place where the creator of beautiful football comes from is called “Três Corações”. The city in which Pelé was born on October 23, 1940 is located in the state of Minas Gerais, roughly equidistant from the three major Brazilian football metropolises of São Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro. Here the people are considered to be particularly hard-working and down-to-earth, here they don’t like to be co-opted.
Pelé und das “beautiful game”
“Três Corações” – that also means “Three Hearts”. And somehow this name also represents the life of the greatest soccer player in history. For a life for which a heart was actually never enough. It took three of them: a heart for the athlete who raised football to a new art form, the “jogo bonito”. A heart for the man who shaped the image of this huge country abroad for several decades, who also shaped the Brazilian soul to some extent through his friendliness. And a third heart for that Pelé, who was sometimes torn apart by the longings and demands of society, politics and the media, who always wanted to take him for themselves.
In the end, images stick in your head. Like the one from the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico City, when Brazil defeated Italy 4-1 in the Aztec Stadium, Pelé scored the 1-0 with a header and a little later with a fantastically precise assist into Carlos Alberto’s run, the fourth and final goal prepare. Like a maestro he created this gate. Not a hundredth of a second too early or too late, not a millimeter too short or too long, this pass came to the team captain of the Seleção for eternity. Pictures like that teenager Pelé, who, fresh and full of hope, smiled from the covers of a whole world after the first World Cup title in Sweden in 1958. The first world star to be made known all over the world.
Pelé always wandered between the worlds. He started his professional career at a time when, at the end of the 1950s, arch-conservative forces still dominated world football. Back then, not only the TV broadcasts were black and white. The rise of Pelé, who was Santos FC’s top scorer in the Sao Paulo state championship at the age of 16, has coincided with the rise of football as the driving force in the media. The television dictated more and more the conditions. When the screens became colourful, the Brazilian internationals became world stars and ambassadors of a very specific football lifestyle: the “jogo bonito”, the beautiful game that Pelé embodied like no other.
Such a parallelism of the radical change in football through the mass media has perhaps only existed again since the beginning of social networks, which created global multimedia advertising icons and digital artificial figures from world stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. And who completely individualized football. With the rise of television, Pelé experienced the first step in this spiral, which continues to spin faster and faster to this day.
fixed star, which demonstrated it to all
And he was the perfect personality for it. Because Pelé not only delivered football games and more than 1000 goals. He also delivered dreams. For those Afro-Brazilians who suffer from white police violence and the structural racism that persists to this day, Pelé was a kind of fixed star in those decades, showing everyone who dreamed of getting out of the slums. Who made it all the way to the top, in those social circles that until then had only been reserved for white people. Even more: A black man who even cheered the whites. FC Santos took advantage of Pelé’s popularity in Africa for lucrative friendlies, at one point the factions in the civil war in Biafra even interrupted the fight so that a friendly match could take place in Lagos in 1967.