Pelé is spending most of his time in his home in Guarujá, coastal São Paulo, to protect himself from the pandemic of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), but he recorded a message before his birthday, on Friday (Oct. 23), telling viewers not to look back, but rather ahead.
“On my 80th birthday, first and foremost, I have a lot to thank God for my health all the way here, and also the lucidity—intelligence not so much, but lucidity,” Pelé quipped in the video released to the press.
“I get a nice welcome everywhere I go across the world. I hope when I go to heaven God welcomes me just as warmly as everybody welcomes me thanks to our dear football,” he declared.
During most of his career in Brazil’s national team and in Santos, not to mention Cosmos, in New York, and also in subsequent years, the man christened Édson Arantes de Nascimento was considered by many the biggest football star of all time.
First Diego Maradona, then also Argentine Lionel Messi came to challenge Pelé’s hegemony, but the shelves of the Brazilian ex-forward are as crammed with trophies as his rivals’.
For Santos, he won the CONMEBOL Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup twice, in addition to ten championships in São Paulo and six Brazilian titles.
Pelé continued the only player to have won the World Cup three times. He was also famous for scoring over a thousand goals over the course of his career.
Wherever he goes, Pelé is still hailed as King of Football, a nickname given by playwright Nelson Rodrigues when he was just 17 years old.
But his emblematic birthday comes after a rough patch. Pelé was hospitalized several times in recent years, and has faced health difficulties due to a hip problem, which did not keep him from recording a song with Grammy-winning duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. Their new single is entitled Acredita no véio (“Believe the Old Man”).
The song was written by Pelé with Brazilian jazz artist Ruriá Duprat in 2005, but was given a final touch after the Mexican pair came along.
This year also marked the 50th anniversary of Pelé’s third triumph in the World Cup: Mexico, 1970. The Brazilian squad then is still acclaimed by specialists as the greatest football team in history.