Pele, just four letters but a name known to countless people far and wide – whether they like football or not. Still to this day and not being blinkered to those who went before or the talent that followed, but it is by the man who became known as the ‘Black Pearl’ that all soccer stars are judged.
To me he stood at the top of the pile and although we have been graced by the otherworldly abilities of Maradona and Messi among others – it is Pele who set the standards for others to model their finite skills upon.
That illustrious 1970 World Cup was the ultimate viewing experience for a young lad sampling his debut global soccer experience on a colour television and those memories are indelible. The current Brazilian team could not hold a candle to that phenomenal force of 52 years ago. The message to the youthful of today is scan those You Tube videos and you will forget about Neymar, for it is Pele who will grab your attention. The stars were aplenty in that all conquering team in Mexico but Pele was a superstar and that was marked by onfield achievements and a charisma which was marked by an aurra and grace not jewelry and tattoos.
Those early morning starts before school to watch Pele and his pals was a joy and resulted in my desire to get that legendary gold, green, blue and white kit and that I did – my first full outfit of shirt, shorts and socks.
A love of the Brazilian national team started there and went through every World Cup not involving Wales, so quite a few. The mystique of those South American pioneers was always spearheaded by the impact of those early viewings of that famous no.10.
Three World Cup wins plus 757 goals in 831 games across two decades speaks volumes but those flashes of audacious genius during games also sparks lots of joy. Lots of Brazil clothing has filled my wardrobe since the seventies and even a Santos top is among this selection – and, again it is all down to Pele.
He was the guy who broke Welsh hearts in 1958 with that solitary strike in the quarter final of that World Cup but the respect for this icon cannot be greater from all quarters of the football community. Therfore, it is sad to say goodbye to Edson Arantes Do Nascimento. Pele RIP….