Praise to His Majesty, King Pelé

Translated by Marvin Najarro

The younger generations believe that football was invented ten years ago, and that artificial gras fields have always been there, as well as the ubiquitous social networks that magnify everything in favor of the big and exploitative high-tech business, and the mafias that surround football. Thus, the huge amounts of money invested in publicity to create, every ten years, star players that will be useful for the selling of jerseys, television audiences, and stadium tickets. This is how they will impose an idol on the world masses, who are easy to manipulate.

Beyond all that is Pelé, who played with a stone ball, on muddy fields and without football rules modified year by year in order to facilitate the development of the game with the sole purpose of making it a spectacle beyond the sport and fair play spirit.

Many may be against it, but that does not negate the fact that Pelé is the greatest football player of all time. Why? Because, plainly and simply, he played in ways never seen before, any way you look at it, Pele invented them all. Everything that came after him in football is his school, they are the pupils learning from his master. Pelé is the one who paved the way, not only for Brazilians footballers, but also for Latin Americans; he also put Brazil and Latin America on the world football map.  Thanks to Pelé, Latin America exists in the world of football.

His aesthetic beauty, talent and discipline. His beautiful game, the magic of cushioning the ball gently touching it with his thigs, without mistreating it, he learned it as a child by training with ripe mangoes that his father gave him, without shoes, because of the extreme poverty they lived in. Due to that struggle against the impossible that characterized the circumstances of his environment, his technique is impeccable, because it was the product of sacrifice and hunger, the necessity and love for the greatest of all passions; football. A yearning that not even the social exclusion could take away from him.  

The great maker, the magician, the negritude of Brazil, the favela’s dignity. Those of us born forty years latter missed the opportunity to see history’s greatest player in action, instead they have imposed on us anyone who kicks a ball as an idol. We are so gullible even as spectators. But history does not lie, in videos of Pelé one can observe his greatness, the vastness of his talent and beauty; of his nature as an athlete. His respect for the opponent, the pitch, and football. His defense of fair play.

Pelé is timeless, false idols will come up time and again, but they will be forgotten as soon as the football mafias discard them. But Pelé will continue to reign because true football was born with him. He is the embodiment of football, the beautiful game of which Brazil is so proud, and the envy of the world.

Pelé belongs to that generation that we will never see again, the one that broke the mold. His legacy will remain as a shining path embellishing the favela and slums of the world. Praise to his majesty, King Pelé for having dignified the Latin American slum with his singular negritude, the heritage of Mother Africa.

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Ilka Oliva-Corado @ilkaolivacorado

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