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Every now and then a human being comes along with special gifts; gifts which enable him to achieve physical or mental feats which defy human logic. Be it the creativity of an Einstein, the moves of a Michael Jordan, the art of Michelangelo, or the voice of a Poparati, human genius expresses itself in various forms. In sport, specifically the game of Futebol, one man stands alone, above all others on the grass. That man, Edson Arantes do Nacimiento known to the world as Pele was born in Tres Coracoes, Brazil on October 23, 1940. He began his professional career with Santos Football Club at the tender age of 15. Two years later he led the Brazilian National Team to victory in the World Cup held in Sweden. He was a member of the Brazilian National Team which won two additional World Cups in 1962 and 1970. Pele's genius lies not only in his natural physical attributes, but his uncanny ability to see several movements ahead of his opponents while at the same time being aware of the positioning of every player on the grass.
Pele became a catalyst of soccer in the United States when he joined the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. He filled the stadiums to capacity where ever he played. In1976 he was the NASL Most Valuable Player and retired the following year at the age of 37. During his career he scored an incredible 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.
Today, Pele serves as Minister of Sports in his native Brasil. He leads the fight against corruption in sports while supporting "The Beautiful Sport" as he calls it. He is loved throughout the world not only for the superhuman ability displayed on the grass, but also the generosity and kindness with he continues to extend to everyone he meets. Never too tired to sign an autograph for a fan, or too weary to continue the battle for player's rights Pele, "The King" is a shining shining example of what a sportsman and human being should be.
La Cancha was honored to have met "The King" Pele in Paris France when he
was recently inducted into FIFA'S HALL OF CHAMPIONS.
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Below Pele talks about his past, and candidly provides his personal assessment of the current Brazilian National Team. He also describes what he believes should be the true goal of futebol .
Q: What do you believe is the primary philosophy of the way that teams play today. A: Well, in my time, we played to win but today everybody plays not to lose. This is what surprises me and players like Beckenbauer.
Q: How successful would the players of your era be if put against the players of today?. A: If everything was equal meaning the physical conditioning we could play very easily with the players of today. However, with the sophisticated equipment that the players have today they would have some advantage. We could have played even better in my era if we had the same type of equipment.
Q: What was your best goal with the Brazilian team? And It is
true that you have said that the tenth Brazilian team can win the World
A: It's very hard for me to say which was my best goal because for me, each of my 1,283 goals were very important in my life. Some people say that a certain goal is the best one because of the level of competition or the importance of the game. However I selected the 1,000th goal because it was the world record. Maracana stadium was filled with 200,000 people shouting for me to score the goal. This was the first time I can remember that my legs were shaking. Although I went to kick a penalty kick which looks easy at this moment it was the most difficult moment of my life. Then, there was the goal I scored in the finals of my last World Cup in Mexico playing against Italy. There were very special moments attached to every goal which was scored. Regarding your other question about the 10th Brazilian team winning the World Cup I think there is some confusion. What I said was that if Brasil makes ten selections such as a team from the State of San Paola, State of Rio De Janeiro, and Bahia we could make a good national team because we have a lot of players. Sometimes I've discussed what is happening with the Brazilian team now. We have the best players in the world no doubt, but as a team working together we don't have a organised team now. That's what we've talked about, the players who have been mentioned. We have beautiful players, nice players but no teamwork. And I think Brasil now Zagallo from now on must think very seriously and organise the brazilian team as a team.. because players no doubt we have the best players in the world but World Cup is a small tournament and you must be well prepared as a team. That's what I said. I think we have a lot of national teams there (in Brasil) but we must prepare!
Q: We are aware that futebol is a sport played on grass
with eleven players on each side. But is it
just another sport where the goal is to win a trophy? Is there, or rather
how do you think futebol should impact in general on society?
A: I think futebol is a sport which bring people together as well as instill discipline. Futebol has a big responsibility to society. It can be used to take kids from the streets and away from drugs. You can look to Japan, Africa, China and other parts of the world and see great players but what is more important is how futebol has developed these men in their personal life. As such it is the type of sport which should be passed down to each generation of children.
Q: What is it like to be Sports Minister, and in that regard can you tell
us anything about the new law that you just passed in realtion to financial
regulations of the clubs.
A: Well, I accepted the position of Sports Minister of Brasil because the President called me and said that he needed my help. I want to organise and moralise futebol and other sports in Brasil. Everybody knows, and I have said a lot of times that we have best teams and players but outside of that we don't have good laws. We don't have good administration. It's unfortunate that I have to say this but it's not lie. Everybody knows that Brasil has a lot of problems. Almost every club is near bankruptcy. So, he (the President) asked me to help. I had to try to help because futebol and sport gave me everything that I have in my life. I don't want to see anyone kill this game. I am not a politician and I don't have a political party. I just do my best to support the sport and that is the reason we are fighting now for the new laws. We approved the first part of the law in congress and I am hoping that next week we will approve the second part of the law.
Q: If you could do you life all over again would you do it the same way,
and is there anything in your life that you have done that you regret?
A: No, no, no I would do everything again ten (10) times
At top (right) FIFA World Best Player for 1997,
Ronaldo proudly displays the now sought
after acrylic block containing preserved grass from the surface of World Cup 1994. Other
players to have received the gift include Romario, Bebeto, Zinho, Mauro Silva, Taffarel,
Branco, Flavio Conceicao, Cafu (current Capt.)and national team coaches Carlos Alberto Parreira and Mario Lobo Zagallo.
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