11 de janeiro de 2023

To the King the eternity


In the days that followed Pelé’s death, I learned a lot about the King’s history thanks to the excellent coverage of the world press. I already knew much of his football achievements, scores, records, titles, and other events beyond the world of sport – like a Santos match with him in 1969 was a reason for a ceasefire in Nigeria amid a civil war in the country.

But the most remarkable aspect of Pelé’s life was the simple stories told by friends, journalists, and former teammates. The stories of humility, perseverance, and awareness. With numerous reports, documentaries, articles, and chronicles about Pelé’s history, it seemed that everything had already been said or written about him. But it’s hard to believe that. Unattainable – like him – appears to be the repertoire of someone who stays for history as the athlete of the century, or the “15 centuries”, as Andy Warhol said. Only time will tell if Warhol was right.

Pelé triumphed in a world of adversity. He shone on uneven pitches, using low-tech sports materials, and at a very different level of financial support from the present day. Today, who would refuse a Real Madrid proposal to stay until the end of a contract with a Brazilian team?

Even without the political activism of other sports icons – such as Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens, or Lewis Hamilton – perhaps masking racism, inequality, and the restriction of freedoms afflicting Brazil at the time, Pelé cried out for the poorest, especially children, and celebrated love, as Caetano Veloso portrayed in the song “Love, Love, Love.” “Pelé’s face has become one of the most striking, if not the most striking, of the message of pride and emancipation of the Black people that swept the planet from the 1960s in the struggle for Civil Rights in the U.S.,” said Sérgio Rodrigues, author of the book “O Drible,” a novel that has Pelé as a character.

Pelé was a composer of the ball. He created and resignified subtle and acrobatic movements, played again years later by stars such as Maradona, Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Zidane, and Mbappé. The perfection and speed in the execution of each movement seemed to show that Pelé played at a different frequency than other players. He created a brand, a way to play beautifully. Others followed him.

Pelé became synonymous with excellence when referring to extraordinary people in their areas of activity. Who was Oscar Niemeyer if not the “Pelé” of architecture? Or Aretha Franklin if not the “Pelé” of soul music? Usain Bolt was the “Pelé” of track & field, and Michael Phelps the “Pelé” of the swimming pools. Every boy playing with an old ball on a dirt field has dreamt at least once of being Pelé.

Even so, we mistreated Edson. It took us decades to recognize and value his speech in favor of the underprivileged when he celebrated his 1000th goal in Maracana. We relentlessly judged his human mistakes. We lost the chance to brighten up the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics when we did not place the most-known Brazilian of all time as the protagonist. Finally, the overwhelming majority of his fellow football compatriots did not attend his funeral – especially the most famous and well-paid players from this and past generations. They did post a photo on Instagram, though. Death is just another liquid memory that runs out in the brevity of a social media Story. Our idols are still the same, but we are no longer.

Edson and Pelé walked close but separated. The first was human, subject to mistakes and successes like any of us, subjected to fierce scrutiny that haunts public figures. But he had Pelé to protect him. It was well defined by the musician, composer, and writer José Miguel Wisnik in an article for the “NYT:” “Pelé, however, had Edson. Among the geniuses of our time, he is safeguarded by his double, who takes on life’s contingencies and personal dramas on a lessened scale. Even if younger generations never got the chance to go head-to-head with his magnificent, indescribable appearance on the field, thanks to his guardian angel, Pelé is spared from ruin, remaining immortal in life.”

To the King The Eternity. Thank you, Pelé.



The articles presented herein do not necessarily reflect Aberje’s opinion, and their content is the author’s sole responsibility.



Marcos Santos is Marketing and Demand-Generation Director of Unisys for Latin America, responsible for planning and executing the region’s brand awareness and demand generation initiatives. Before joining Unisys in 2012, Santos held senior roles in Public Relations agencies such as Sing Comunicacao, Fundamento Grupo de Comunicacao, and Andreoli MSL. Graduated in Journalism from the Universidade Metodista de Sao Paulo, Santos holds an MBA in Corporate Communication Management from Aberje, a graduate degree in ROI Analysis in Marketing and Communication Programs from USP, and was part of the MicroMaster Program in Digital Leadership from the University of Boston.

Os artigos aqui apresentados não necessariamente refletem a opinião da Aberje e seu conteúdo é de exclusiva responsabilidade do autor.


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