Edson Arantes do Nascimento maybe his government name but Pelè is the moniker by which his legacy lives on. The Talks catches up with the the football legend to discuss his thoughts on his legacy as well the current state of the game as well as his beloved Brazil. In true Pelè fashion his answers are forward, playful with a touch of smugness. Check out an extract from the interview, below, and read the whole article here.
Pelé, when you are the best at something how hard is it not to get arrogant about it?
I used to tease the kids because I played better than them. But my father told me, “Don’t do this with the kids because you know how to play football; God gave you the gift to play football. You didn’t do anything. You have to respect people, because it is important to be a good man, a good person. From now on, you must be this example.”
I am not sure if it was only God who gave you that gift. Being at the top of the game must be hard work as well.
Of course the work is very, very important. That is exactly what my father meant: God gave you the gift to play football, but this is a present. You must respect people and work hard to be in shape. And I used to train very hard. When the others players went to the beach after training, I was there kicking the ball. Another thing I say is, if I am a good player, if I have a gift from God but I don’t have the physical condition to run on the field what am I going to do?
Did you ever feel like your abilities were super-human?
No, we are all human beings. I have to trust something that gives me power, I have to believe in something, but in my career I have a lot of moments I cannot explain with God. We went to Africa and we stopped the war in Africa because the people went to see Pelé play. They stopped the war. Just God can’t explain that. I don’t know why – it is impossible to know why – but they stopped the war. When we finished the game and we left they continue to fight.
Which country was that?
Did you always know that you were meant to achieve big things?
The first World Cup I remember was in the 1950 when I was 9 or 10 years old. My father was a soccer player and there was a big party and when Brazil lost to Uruguay, I saw my father crying. I was with all the kids and I said, “Why are you crying?” My father said, “Brazil lost the World Cup.” Then I made a joke and told him, “Don’t cry, don’t cry, I’m going to win the World Cup for you.” Eight years later, in 1958, I was playing for Brazil when we won the World Cup in Sweden.
This is something that is difficult to explain. I didn’t know why I was there, but I was selected and Brazil won and now, who knows? I was only seventeen…
Did you realize what kind of an impact this victory would have on Brazil?
At that time nobody had Brazil on the map and suddenly Brazil became a huge football nation. I was very proud because I made Brazil well known all over the world. Now with the new technology, the boys score, run behind the goal and say, “Mommy, I love you,” into the cameras and the whole world can see it. In my time, I think maybe my father saw and maybe he knew we won, but at that time we didn’t have TV, we didn’t have that kind of communication. The game was finished that night and the next day we had to go on the radio in Sweden to talk on the radio in Brazil and say, “Mommy, we won.” You see the difference in the life we have now. I’m never going to forget that.