UAE: Tributes pour in for legendary football icon Pelé

Dubai Sports Council posts images and videos of the late legend


Lamya Tawfik

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Published: Fri 30 Dec 2022, 5:29 PM

Last updated: Fri 30 Dec 2022, 5:32 PM

“Pelé’s football was a fairy tale rather than a novel, poetry rather than news.” This is how a football fan and entrepreneur described the great late Brazilian football legend who died on Thursday.

“Pelé was barely 10 when Brazil lost the 1950 World Cup final at the Maracanã, causing an incredible collective mourning. On that day, there was a child who promised himself and his country that he would avenge that shame. And he did it eight years later, in Sweden, repeating himself twice more in 1962 (Chile) and 1970 (Mexico) against 'my' Italy,” said Fabrizio Puglisi, CEO & Founder of the Juventus Academy.

He said that he regrets never getting the chance to meet him and that he is the football icon of all time as he will always remain ‘O Rei’, The King. “’Who do you think you are? Pelé?’ I can assure you that all the kids who played the beautiful sport heard this phrase at least once in their life,” said Fabrizio, adding that Italians will always remember the 1970 World Cup game in which their national team lost to Brazil.

“How can we fail to remember Pelé's goal in the Brazil 4-1 Italy final of the 1970 World Cup, the first final lost by Italy at the World Cup? That day Pelé seemed suspended in the sky for an interminable time. It was an honour to have lost against him,” he said.

According to Fabrizio, regardless of the incredible football icons that the world has seen in all the ages, Pelé was and will remain the icon of football for everyone. “Even for those who have never seen him play and have studied him in books, peeked on YouTube and were inspired by that masterpiece of emotions that is the film "Victory",” said Fabrizio adding that anyone who has ever played the game will recognize his eternal legacy.

“Everything the champions do on the pitch today, he did years before them and his death reminds everyone, while the whole world idolizes today's new champions, who is the real king,” he said adding: “Who do these players think they are? Pelé?”

Tributes for the iconic football player, who died on Thursday at the age of 82, continued to pour in on Friday. The UAE Football Association posted a picture of Pelé with the caption “Farewell Legendary Pelé”.

The Dubai Sports Council also posted images and videos of Pelé with the caption: “The late legend Pelé has been associated with excellent relationships with the UAE since the establishment of the country, as he was part of the Santos team that played against Al-Nasr Club in Dubai in 1973, and he also visited the country on many occasions, the last of which was the Stars match that was held next to Burj Khalifa in 2018.”

Julia dos Santos, a Brazilian-Swiss expat, said that as a Brazilian travelling the world, she is often met by a bright smile of joy and friendship at the mention of her home country. “This is primarily due to our football legacy which seems to be able to unite people from across the globe in support of our country - and we truly owe this to Pelé. He not only put Brazil on the map, but in the hearts of people,” she said describing him as a national treasure.

She said that there are many things that could be said about Pelé, like his achievement as the sport’s first global icon and his record-making genius – after all he did score 1282 goals throughout his career - but in addition to that Julia said that people will remember his ability to transcend national, social and racial boundaries, and his simple humility.

“At the end of the day, no matter what hardship the country may have been going through the decades, we always had the “joga bonito” thanks to Pelé,” she said. Jogo bonito, she explained, means “play beautiful. Brazil was known by that catch phrase at that time that Pelé was playing. The Brazilian style of playing “joga bonito” was very different to everything else anyone had seen,” she said.

She said that it will be hard to find a Brazilian who has not felt the weight of this news but that it is an honour to have had such a legend carrying the Brazilian national name and that his memory and legacy will always remain a blessing. “Did you know that Pelé stopped a war once? There was a 48-hour cease fire in Nigeria once so people could watch him play,” said Julia.


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