Pelé’s shimmering legend was forged in the heat of the 1970 World Cup finals | Pelé

debtFootball is seldom just soccer and soccer players are seldom just soccer players. Pele was a brilliant forward, a player of grace and imagination, explosive pace and exceptional balance, but that’s not why his death on Thursday caused such a widespread sense of loss. It’s not three World Cups, not two Copa Libertadores. Answering the question of why Pele was important in the list of attributes and medals misses the point.

But it’s almost impossible to define what he represented, especially after his playing career ended, as his ability to represent just about anything became an advertiser’s dream. He exists in the perfect commercial space, a man of stature and charisma, and somehow also a blank canvas, from Puma to Pepsi to Viagra, from heating his own hair under extreme pressure. Almost anything could be advertised, right down to the diamonds that were cut.

That quality meant that Pele meant pretty much what he meant to him. For my generation, who were a little too young to see him play, he was always the benchmark and the name that defined football greatness. He was an experienced player. escape to victorya name to shout in the schoolyard if someone does something particularly great.

And of course the name itself is very important in that regard. If he had remained Edson, would we have wanted to shout his name? It could be the depravity of “Bile”, the goalkeeper Pele idolized as a child (his own name comes from the fact that the wise women of the village gather around his crib in the moonlight, I think it comes from the spell I used when I tried to pull him away (Taciturn), but perfect branding. Pele sounds like a more exotic form of “play.” It begins with a burst of energy and quickly transitions to something more supple and seductive.

Perhaps it would be an overstatement to say that with his death a shred of childhood innocence vanished, but of such a constant, one of the first global football superstars, one of the earliest after Qatar. Passing away now seems appropriate. Considered a great trinity, it is a milestone to death.

During the 2022 World Cup, a mural depicting Pelé lifting the Jules Rimet trophy can be seen at a tribute event to the Brazilian legend held in Qatar’s Fanzone. image) Photo: Mark Metcalfe/FIFA/Getty Images

But to see Pele as representative of the purer, you didn’t have to be born, as his career was coming to an end in the New York Cosmos. It was at his best when he overcame a brutal tackle to inspire Santos’ 5-3 aggregate victory over Boca Juniors in the main leg final. , which proved he was in the world’s love, at the 1970 World Cup. The competition itself occupies a mythical zone in football’s collective memory.

The legend of Pele needed that tournament. In 1958, at the age of 17, he joined the team in the third leg of the group stage and, including his two goals in the final, he scored six goals in the rest of the World Cup. He was youth, he was joy, he was great promise, but Didi and Baba were stars. In 1962, he was injured out of the tournament in the second game. He may have contributed to his two World Cup wins, but he won neither. his World Cup.

In 1966, footage of him being pulled off the pitch at Goodison Park shows him with a blanket over his shoulders, tattered, battered, kicked out of the World Cup by first Bulgaria, then Portugal, and football taken. After the individualism that characterized Brazil’s successes in 1958 and 1962 (underpinned by radical innovations in zone marking and the back four), England’s victory was a physical and systematic move. The era of the press has dawned.

Mexico in 1970 opposed this. It was the first World Cup to be broadcast by satellite and color. The yellow shirt and cobalt shorts shimmering in the Mexican heat were magical. Everything felt thrillingly modern. The ball’s Telstar is named after the satellite. That black and white panel is still the default for football’s general presentation.

Brazil had taken a NASA training course and was well prepared. But tactically, Mexico was a throwback. The heat and altitude meant the constant running demanded by the press had to be tempered. The individualism of a team of virtually five No 10s, the greatest of which actually wore the 10 last, could succeed. 1970 was Pele’s tournament.

The innocence wasn’t just tactical. By 1974, João Havelange had succeeded Stanley Routh as president of his FIFA, and football had entered an era of commercialism. There was naivety around 1970, when very little was going well and not everything was for sale.

But it was a strange kind of innocence.of ObserverHugh McIlvaney of . just like ourselves. ”

Brazil's Pele is in England's defense in the 1970 World Cup group match at the Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, with Bobby Charlton (left), Alan Ball, referee Abraham Klein and Bobby Moore (right) attempting a tackle on Martin Peters. caused problems.
Pele caused problems for England’s defense in the 1970 World Cup. Photo: Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images

But there is a Brazilian side here, and it came to be used for propaganda purposes by the dictatorship of General Emilio Medici. “Mexico 1970” has become shorthand for its football ideals, but Mexico in 1970 Institutional Revolutionary Party, practiced torture and extrajudicial killings as a matter of course, and carried out massacres of student demonstrators in 1968 and 1971. Dark backgrounds were mostly ignored. There was also an innocence in the interview.

And at the center of these contradictions is Pele, arguably the greatest World Cup player of all time, the epitome of something wholesome yet otherworldly, a powerful brand, Product and, unintentionally, dictatorship.

Real Pele? As his 1970 teammate Tostão observed, the real Pele was Pele in public, Edson in private long ago became sophisticated and non-existent. He was a different being to many, but most of all, perhaps, Pele represents a lost purity.

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