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Tribute: Pelé leaves football orphaned – Rossoneri

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Football’s most iconic figure is on the canvas after a world acclaimed bout with cancer. His death was always coming as he shuttled between home and hospital in recent times. At 82, Pelé’s race is run, run with unbeaten pace. Just how does one write a tribute for a man of his nature and stature? Whatever, any collection of words, sentences, paragraphs and pages, no matter the author, will do little to do justice to the legacy of this man.


If football were a republic, Pelé would be its most ideal statesman. He is unrivaled in any other Sport. No other game has a legend as heralded and celebrated as him, fittingly so. Perhaps more aptly, the community that thrusted him forth in the first place is non other than Brazil, football’s spiritual home. If Brazil has painted football with its popular art, then Pelé held the brush, Leonardo Da Vinci-esque.

Arguably, no name is representative of a game better than Pelé and football. He is the game’s first global superstar with diffusing appeal. To command enviable fame in an era of limited technology and media power, talent and genius had to be both extreme and spellbinding. Pelé made sure of this. The story of a precocious black teenager with gifted feet and unique image, going on to conquer the world in 1958 marked legendary status even before his career began.


Pelé is a spirit. His name transcends the physical. It has found its way into blood, flesh and bones with skin providing cover. It is an identity of a people so blessed with all prerequisites of a successful love affair between boot and ball. It is so with a continent-sized country with over 200 million people. The outside world feeds on surplus in this. There is mad rush for this sense of belonging. Not many men have the ability to creat a movement like this.


For all those who live on statistics, Pelé’s numbers are mad and everyone knows that. This write-up is not for numbers. It is an attempt to trace the memory of a mythical man, futilely. A man whose pull-power forced a truce between warring factions so they watch him play football. A man declared a national treasure by a President. A man named footballer of the century. A man who earns a seat by the table alongside Beethoven and Einstein. A man reserved as reference for every great footballer.


If you are consumed in all this raging debate about the greatest of all time, know that Pelé first evoked that discussion. Before him, it was non-existent. After him, there have been many pretenders to that crown. Irrespective of who finally amasses the most vociferous campaigners, perhaps deservedly, Pelé’s place perfectly pertains. Good thing is, virtually all footballers, retired or active, salute him for what he has done with and for football. It hardly gets better than that.


So, it is all over. It is 90 minutes plus injury time. The final whistle has gone and proceedings have come to an end. But, Pelé will be unavailable for a post-match presser. He is headed for the belly of the Earth. The very Earth he adorned with his storied skills. No footballer’s life has been captured by the moment by cameras as much as Edson Arantes do Nascimento. What else is left to say? Pelé, the most popular sportsman that ever lived has exercised his foot one last time. Instead of a football, he has kicked a bucket.


Source: Rossoneri Salecao

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