The saddest image in the history of world football

Sao Paulo, Brazil

“I was already distressed.

“Pele’s greatness was a heavy blow.

“The rediscovery of its importance, topicality.

“I didn’t believe.

“Until I saw the scene and read a message that summed up everything I thought and couldn’t convey.

“The worst image in the history of world football is seeing Pele in a coffin.

“In the heart of Vila Belmiro.

“To receive the affection of his son Edinho, who defended a lot, even when he had no defences.

“There is no way to separate Edson, with his mistakes, from the fabulous, iconic player capable of taking Brazil from the periphery of the world to the 1950s.

“Life is over for both of us.

“Why, when Edson had to remember a move, get an autograph, receive a hug, participate in millions of selfies, the 50, 60, 70, 82-year-old man’s proud smile was his own, the spark ignited with new.

“Pelé’s humanity began to assert itself in 2009, with a strange difficulty walking. The pain took over his right leg, his favorite when it came to scoring, dribbling, shooting, proving to be the best of all.

“The origin was in his hip. He couldn’t stand so many shots on goal, so many brakes, so many zig-zagging runs.

“So many incorrect kicks, when protective yellow and red cards didn’t even exist.

“Pele forced Edson to endure excruciating pain. Maintaining his reputation as an ‘Athlete of the 20th century’. Trying to pretend not to live in the 21st century at the age of 71.

“It was until he couldn’t take it anymore, having had surgery in 2012.

“He believed he would be ‘cured’. But doctors warned that the chances of complete improvement were little or no. He saw himself in front of the mirror on crutches.

“He bet a second surgery in the US would come in handy. He’s back in a wheelchair. Leaving her was a sacrifice that bordered on the impossible.

“He preferred not to go to the openings of the Olympics in Brazil in 2016 and the World Cup in Russia. Pelé did not want Edson’s humanity to arouse pity, sadness, embarrassment. He always saw himself as a superman without a cape.

“The bad news turned out to be terrible. I was in St. Petersburg, accompanying the already frustrating selection of Tite, and there were comments that Pele would never walk again. Russian journalists found out about this from people connected with the organization of the World Cup .

“They could only be completely wrong. Pele’s staff must have quarreled with Putin. I bet, deluded.

“But the facts prevailed over hope.

“I had interviewed Pelé on three occasions. We spoke twice about Brazilian football, superficially. But it already serves to show his enormous charisma.

“It was in the third, as minister of Fernando Henrique, in the greatness of Brasilia, that he showed his strength. Outraged by the attitude, which he considered slave, of the Brazilian players.

“I realized that Fernando Henrique put Pele in the Ministry of Sports because no one would be able to confront the leaders of Brazilian football to end the Pass Law. Only him.

“And that’s what he did.

“As much as he loved Santos, he himself could have gone to play for Real Madrid, Barcelona, ​​​​Inter. In Milan. But his emotional and even legal bond with Santos, plus the request from the federal government, considered a symbol, kept it in the countryside.

“I knew he was retired, out of the picture. But I didn’t believe it, like many journalists who were in Qatar, when the terrible diagnosis of colon cancer was revealed in detail. With metastases, i.e. the disease spreading through his vital organs and treatment is not working.

“With him who chose not to be hospitalized in Albert Einstein’s intensive care unit.

“Pele wanted to correct Edson’s mistakes in life. He met his children and grandchildren, including Sandra’s son, the daughter he did not take over. Even with her terminally ill. Sandra allegedly quarreled with her beloved mother Celeste. And he even made a fuss in the press, in the words of the King. Hence the distance he kept to the end.

“But, with the terrible diagnosis, Pelé straightened out with Gabriel and Otávio, who were unsuccessful in football. He divided the inheritance. And he still chose where he is today, in this unforgettable January 2, 2022, which rests in a coffin in the center of Vila Belmiro.

“In the same place where he knelt down in 1974 and thanked heaven for his career at Santos.

“I watched in awe as it became a global icon, thanks to the Cosmos. Going way beyond three World Cups. Only much later did I find out that Warner Bros. owned the New York club.

“In Qatar I saw the countless tributes to Pelé. His figure was present in the incredible buildings of Doha. In the banner of the Brazilian crowd. Journalists, mainly Argentines, asked me every day about Pelé’s health.

“I wanted to believe it was an exaggeration.

“Even when my day on December 29 was painful for the news of Pele’s death, deep down I kept hoping it was a big mistake.

“To this day, the body is in Vila Belmiro.

“The pain of those who love football and see this scene is very moving.

“Neither the terrible disease, nor chemotherapy, nor all possible and impossible remedies have managed to hide its characteristics.

“Pele’s face is still Pele’s, unlike many people who lose their lives.

“Only the furtive tears remain, which no one can see, as I try to convey my sadness, pain in the face of the finiteness of who has no end.

“Pele is dead.

“Charles Chaplin is dead.

“Elvis Presley is dead.

“Muhammad Ali is dead.

“Marilyn Monroe is dead.

“Maradona is dead.

“They say.

“Even with your body on the lawn of Vila Belmiro…

“I do not believe…”

Pele wakes up at Santos: the public greets the king of football

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