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ΑρχικήEnglish EditionPelé: The end of a legend

Pelé: The end of a legend

By Andreas Gkoumplias,

It was Friday the 29th of December 2022 when the football world came to a great shock as Pelé, the famous Brazilian footballer, was no longer among us. For the past few days, rumors were spreading rapidly regarding the rapid deterioration of his health, as well as photos of his family members saying their final goodbyes to him. Having fought bravely with cancer for the last few years, the Brazilian legend died at the age of 82 in São Paulo, Brazil, the cause being multiple organ failure and other health complications, with the football community mourning the loss since many famous celebrities paying their respects and the Brazilian president declaring a 3-day national mourning.

To say that he was important for the development and progression of football itself would be an understatement. But before passing on to that section some details about his life are necessary. Pelé or Edson Arantes do Nascimento was born on October the 23rd of 1940 in Minas Gerais in Brazil. Reportedly, he got the nickname Pelé. In his early years, he played for several amateur/local teams before signing with Santos in 1956. A truly charismatic striker, he averaged almost a goal per game with the team scoring 618 times in 636 appearances with the first team, conquering his first title in 1958, the Campeonato Paulista.

The young prodigy was called almost immediately into the national team of Brazil at the age of 16, scoring his first goal at that age, making history as the youngest goalscorer of the national team. In the 14 years of him playing in the national election, he managed 92 appearances and scored 77 goals. With his leadership and lethal efficiency, Brazil managed to become two times world champions in 1958 and 1962, being the only team up to this day that managed to win two back-to-back world cups. For the last two years of his career 1975 to 1977, he played for New York Cosmos in the USA, making 64 appearances and scoring 37 times in total.

Image source: theringer.com

The so-called “King of football” was as active outside of the football fields as inside. His work is memorable, as he continuously promoted peace and various good causes for the majority of his football career. His most recent act of it was an open letter, published on June 1st of 2022, regarding the war raging in Ukraine and directed towards President Vladimir Putin to stop the invasion. In 2018, he created the Pelé foundation, aiming to empower poor kids in Brazil and around the globe. His memorable work came to be his ambassadorial work, as in 1992, and since was promoted as the UN Ambassador for Environment and Ecology, taking place in various events. Yet, his most prized achievement – as said by many – was that he was a great inspiration to so many youngsters, at a time when Brazil was finding itself in a difficult position because of the high crime rates, Pelé set the example that violence is not always the best resort and instead via football he provided another way out.

One more amazing incident comes to mind when speaking about Pelé, the time when he managed to actually stop even temporarily a war. It was the year 1967 and Pelé’s career was undisputedly at an all-time high his team “Santos” decided to take advantage of that popularity to tour and do friendly matches all around the world. When the time of the continent of Africa came, scheduled matches were in Congo, Mozambique, Ghana, Algeria, and Nigeria. The only problem was that Nigeria at the time was devastated by an immense civil war. However, when on the 26th of January 1967 the Santos landed in the country, for their scheduled friendly match against the Nigerian national selection, not only did they manage to do it with Pelé scoring twice, but they also managed to achieve a game where there were no casualties at all, before and after.

Image source: sport24.gr

Much can be said and written about the “King of football” and his past, however, there is one thing to keep in mind; he is the one that changed the football stage forever with the introduction of “joga bonito” or “the beautiful football” as it later came to be, making him one of the best, if not the best player to ever play the game.

  • When Pelé interrupted a civil war. common-goal.org. Available here 
  • Pelé, Brazil’s mighty king of ‘beautiful game,’ has died. apnews.com. Available here



Andreas Gkoumplias
Andreas Gkoumplias
He is 21 years old from Kalampaka, currently residing in Thessaloniki, where he is studying French Language and Literature. His hobbies involve video games, interacting with the gaming community (watching other gamers play or join them), meeting new people, and enjoying a nice company, while drinking wine, as well as writing a variety of topics to inform other people and express himself. In his spare time, he prefers relaxing with coffee alongside his friends or researching random facts to educate himself on any topic, while also reading books. He is fluent in English, French, and Italian, as well as he knows little German and Spanish. His big plan — to travel around the world.