Netflix, which had already made the event with the basketball player Michael Jordan (“The Last Dance”) attacks another legend of the sport: since this Tuesday, February 23, the platform offers a documentary on Pelé (with interviews of the star) retracing his fabulous career, from his first world title in 1958 to the third coronation in 1970. Now 80 years old, King Pelé lives alone at home because of the Covid which hits Brazil hard. The last few years have not been good for Pelé, who suffers from depression, uses a walker and has been spending more time in hospital. “He’s very sick, has hip problems. He only has one kidney, ”his friend Paulo César told us last summer. “He lives withdrawn into himself, recluse”, regretted his son a few months ago.
More than 50 years ago, however, King Pelé wrote a page of his own history and of his discipline… It is raining in Rio de Janeiro on November 19, 1969. However, it would take more than a tropical rain to prevent an entire people to invade the Maracana. More than 80,000 Brazilians have entered this world football temple. The excitement is such in the spans that the concrete of the stands trembles.
Twenty-two players race on the pitch, but the crowd has eyes for only one: Edson Arantes do Nascimento, alias Pelé. Because everyone is waiting for the Santos player to score the 1000th goal of his career that day against Vasco, who plays at home.
At 29, he had already won two World Cups in 1958 and 1962. He won a third a few months later in Mexico, which made him a little more legendary. The poor child born in Três Corações (Three Hearts) in 1940 is already the greatest footballer of all time and an idol in his country: “In Brazil, we don’t call him Pelé but, O Rei (the King) “, confides his friend Paulo César, world champion with him in 1970.” Kid, I hated being called Pelé, a name given by my friends, he said. My real name is Edson Arantes in tribute to the inventor Thomas Edison. I don’t know why Pelé. That means stupid In turkish! “
Goalkeeper to avoid scoring
In his career, which began more than ten years earlier, Pelé has never counted his goals scored. It is the press that reminds him of this and thus keeps a whole nation in suspense: when will the King score this famous 1000th goal?
At the end of October, Santos leaves for the north of Brazil. If Pelé (998 goals) achieves a brace for João Pessoa, the milestone will be crossed. In front of thousands of supporters, he was made an honorary citizen of the city, as if that could motivate him to plant two. But he cannot make history in this anonymous coastal city. He still scores to reach 999 goals. More than one… and as an accident quickly happens, Pelé takes precautions.
At that time, we do not replace injured players. So when Santos’ goalkeeper comes out on a stretcher, it’s Pelé himself who replaces him in the cages. No risk of scoring under these conditions. You can never be too careful! A few days later, Pelé’s club play in Salvador de Bahia. The star player, this time, misses the inevitable, especially for him: a strike in the empty goal! The world champion obviously has an idea behind his head.
“Before shooting, I was shaking”
The following match pits Santos against Vasco de Gama, his father’s club. It is scheduled for the Rio Maracana on November 19. Prestigious setting, perfect poster. Everything is reunited with one detail: the eleven players of Vasco do not play the game: no question of being the victims – on their lawn moreover – of this 1000th goal sewn with white thread. A defender even prefers to score against his camp rather than let Pelé – who rushes towards him – take care of it and round up his fantastic counter. Ubuesque!
Time goes by and still nothing. Comes the 78th minute of the match (which Pelé’s club will win 2-1) and a penalty whistled for Santos. In the team, the specialist in the matter is Carlos Alberto, the captain of the future world champions of 1970. No question of shooting this one under penalty of being lynched by the crowd. For once, he leaves his place to a Pele feverish as ever: “Before shooting, I was trembling. I was afraid of failure. It was too much responsibility. I thought : What if the guard stops him? If I miss? If I shoot the post? For the first time, I was nervous. “In front of him, the Argentine goalkeeper Edgardo Andrada does not lead wide either:” I felt like playing alone against the rest of the world. The noise was deafening. Even Vasco’s supporters were against me, ”he says.
It is 11:23 pm when the Brazilian number 10 takes off and deceives the goalkeeper with a soft shot on the right. And 1,000! The ground is invaded, the indescribable madness. The match must be stopped for 20 minutes. To celebrate this moment, a plaque will be placed at the entrance of the Maracana and Pelé will receive a balloon weighing 2 kg of pure gold. Dedicate to him the feat awaited by a whole people to “poor children of Brazil”. One of those kids he had once been before he was crowned king.
Has Pelé really scored over 1000 goals in his career? The answer is yes. His total stopped in the mid-1970s at 1,281 in 1,363 games. But not all in official matches: his many friendly tours also come into play. According to the site www.rsssf.com, reference in the matter, in 840 official matches with Santos, Brazil or Cosmos New York, Pelé scored “only” 775 goals.
In official matches, the all-time top scorer would be the German Erwin Helmchen (1907-1981) with 981 goals ahead of the Austrian Josef Bican (1913-2001) and his 968 goals. Since World War II, Pelé has been overtaken by Hungarian Ferenc Puskás (808), his compatriot Romario (780) and recently overtaken by Cristiano Ronaldo (778). With 756 achievements, Messi will soon overtake the Brazilian legend.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr