Edson Arantes Do Nascimento was the best footballer on the planet for two decades, and for many the greatest of all time. Traces in the Brazilian team and in Santos.
An ephemeral, four-letter nickname, pronounced like an exhalation in less than a second, was the first global phenomenon that soccer offered the world. Eso generó Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, Pelé, a name so powerful that it traveled the planet in times when the media tools were radio, black and white televisions, newspaper and magazine reports that could be read several days after the event, and the mouth to the mouth in which the feats of King, at the risk that some were exaggerated.
But in the almost unanimity of those who saw him play, it is difficult to think of the misrepresentation of an exceptional figure, who has only defended two teams, who shone in his national team and is on the altar of the history of global sport par excellence, for titles won, goals scored and the beauty of his game.
Pelé, who turns 80 today, was born almost 20 years and a week before Diego Armando Maradona, on October 23, 1940. A native of the small town of Tres Corazones, in Minas Gerais, he is the son of a João Ramos do Nascimento, Dondinho, and María Celeste Arantes. His father was also a footballer but his career had a short flight because in his first game with Atlético Mineiro he broke the ligaments in one knee and his destiny was marked for teams of lesser worth. Hired by the Baurú Atlético Clube (BAC), the family moved to the state of San Pablo, where I say, as Edson was known as a child, began to mold the innate talent that carried his football genetics.
Eduardo Galeano, in Football in sun and shade, drew a description as simple as beautiful and accurate of what the complete parable of being Pelé represented. Because when the character is completely turned around, it is found that the majority vote in favor of the extraordinary soccer player will collide with other less graceful aspects of his private life, tinged with behaviors favorable to corporations.
“He was born in a poor house, in a remote town, and reached heights of power and fortune, where blacks are prohibited from entering. Off the courts he never gave away a minute of his time, and never a coin fell out of his pocket. But those of us who had the opportunity to see him play have received offerings of rare beauty: moments so worthy of immortality that allow us to believe that immortality exists “, defined the Uruguayan writer.
Galeano well pointed out that his childhood was not so comfortable for I say like his brothers Zeca and Lucía. They called him Edson “like the scientist with the lamp”, according to what he himself told years later, in reference to Tomas Alva Edison. Likewise, the Creole with the small body, skinny legs and prominent ears was never far from the ball. He created a team with his neighborhood friends that they called Ameriquinha, which took the tournament in the city of Baurú, where he had arrived with just five years.
It was in those clandestine parties that the nickname was born Skin, as a result of Edson’s distortion when referring to a Vasco Da Gama goalkeeper. “I always talked about Bilé. With my accent from Mineiro, every time I said his name, he sounded something like Pelé. So among my friends they began to call me Pelé, although I’m not sure that’s why “, he told in an interview with Veja magazine. “I didn’t like the nickname Pele, sounded childish in Portuguese. I was Edson, ”he told German magazine Bild in 2006.
Then he went to the lower divisions of Baurú, a team where he played Dondinho and that he was trained by Waldemar de Brito, who played for Brazil in the 1934 World Cup. He convinced his mother to let the already adolescent Edson leave his job in a shoe factory, where he received a salary of two dollars at day, and your house to go play Santos. It was uprooting, because he was going to a distant city 400 kilometers from the family bosom. But the opportunity had presented itself and, in 1956, there it was.
His early days in the Fish They were not easy and he even tried to escape from the pension, after missing a penalty in the final of a U16 tournament that his team lost, but his evasive plan failed. Finally, he made his debut in the Santos first team in a friendly against Corinthians de Santo André. I was 15 years old. He scored a goal, but it was not counted in the more than 1,200 that he himself says he has achieved throughout his career as a footballer.
His official debut for Santos was against Cubatão on September 7, 1956. There he did score the first goal of his account. Soon Pelé achieved his first conquests: the Paulista Tournament (1956 edition, in which he was the top scorer for his team) and the Rio-São Paulo Tournament (1957 edition).
Pelé was well known in the São Paulo environment, but he had not yet exploded at the national level. The impact was achieved after an exhibition tournament held at the Maracana stadium, between several Brazilian teams and some Europeans. In the debut match against Belenenses de Portugal, he scored three goals.
He also played against Dinamo Yugoslavia, Flamengo and San Pablo, against whom he scored a goal in each game. With such performance he managed to get Vicente Feola, the Brazil coach, to notice him and call him to the national team, just a few months after having debuted as a professional and only 16 years old. It was the emerging hope in a country that still suffered the traces of the Maracanazo of 1950.
Your presentation at Cararinha It was on July 7, 1957 against Argentina, again at the Maracana, for the Julio Roca Cup, and although he scored a goal, Brazil lost 2-1; The many Argentines were marked by Angel Labruna and Miguel Antonio Juárez, el Gitano. Three days later for the same tournament and again against Albiceleste, but at the Pacaembú stadium, Brazil won 2-0 and Pelé beat Amadeo Carrizo again.
According to the chronicle of the magazine El Gráfico, published two weeks after the matches, it was stated that in the Brazilian team “the changes introduced had a good effect, especially the excellent performance of the strikers, among them the young Pelé, 16 years old, and left insider Luisinho ”. And it abounded: “Pelé is the latest revelation in Brazilian football and he has won the public’s trust to the point of applauding his every intervention”.
In Sweden, and at the age of 17, he joined the Brazilian squad in the World Cup. It was 10 by chance: The Brazilian Sports Confederation (CBD) sent the players’ clothing unnumbered and a FIFA official, who distributed the numbers without too much sporting criteria, appointed it. Its unquestionable quality did the rest.
Pelé was the national team’s scorer in the World Cup, with six of the 21 goals that the Verdeamarela he converted into six games (the absolute gunner was the Frenchman Just Fontaine, with 13 conquests). In the final against Sweden, Brazil won 5-2, with two goals from King and two others from Garrincha, his great partner in that first World Cup adventure.