And God created Pele:
June 30, 2003 7:18 AM   Subscribe

And God created Pele: Pele doesn't die. Pele will never die. Pele is going to go on for ever. But Edson is a normal person who is going to die one day, and the people forget that. Also of note: expensive photographs from eyestorm.
posted by aladfar (16 comments total)
posted by jeblis at 7:21 AM on June 30, 2003

I realize this is a merely a Guardian link, but I found the article fascinating. Pele considers himself a divided being - the Pele persona on one side, and the simple man known as Edson on the other. Though perhaps nothing more than affectation, this belief seems utterly sincere. And when you consider how he conducts himself publicly, it fits together logically.

I can't think of another public figure/celebrity who considers themselves in the same fashion. It's really quite extraordinary.
posted by aladfar at 7:23 AM on June 30, 2003

Wow, he retired 32 years ago, yet when I was a kid he was still the epitome of what a soccer player could be. I'm 34 so his reputation lasted at least a decade.
posted by substrate at 7:30 AM on June 30, 2003

Reminds me of Jorge Luis Borges' famous vignette "Borges and I," which explores the problem of a persona taking over its creator's identity.
posted by junkbox at 7:33 AM on June 30, 2003

his reputation lasted at least a decade

His reputation has morphed into something not unlike mythology or legend for those of us that never saw him play. I don't think anybody playing right now has that kind of power over the minds of soccer fans both past and present. Therefore, nobody can be as good as he was.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:34 AM on June 30, 2003

It's interesting how you pretty much get him right: he really thinks of him as two different entities. Here are some stories about him:

There's a TV ad with him (well, there are several TV ads, some of them about sexual impotency, but let's not digress, shall we) were he talks about a Health Care company and how they had invited Pele to talk about it, but really they didn't need Pele, they could do it with a simple man like Edson.

Also, fame is something that he handles well. Usually he doesn't get upset with people disturbing him during meals or anything, quite the contrary. If people are not disturbing him, then he gets worried.

Last but not least, we Brazilians tend to use his name as a good will passport. There's a Brazilian journalist that was covering the civil war in Uganda some time ago and was captured by one of the armies and when he explained he was Brazilian and mentioned soccer and Pele and that didn't ring any bells, that was the moment where he thought that he was in deep trouble.
posted by rexgregbr at 8:05 AM on June 30, 2003

I knew that Pele was a great soccer player, but then I looked at the pictures and realized that he was a great playa, too.
posted by ringmaster at 8:07 AM on June 30, 2003

jeblis: I think you're looking for Fark. It's over there. --->

For some reason Pele's fame has transcended his actual ability on a football pitch. Sure, he was the greatest player of his generation, but was he any better than Maradonna, for instance? What about Zidane? We speak respectfully of Maradonna, Van Basten, Cruyff, Puskas etc, but Pele seems to occupy an almost mythological level. The only other player I can think of who has that sort of reputation, and only in England, is Stanley Matthews.
posted by salmacis at 9:55 AM on June 30, 2003

Interesting read (for football fans). I'd always assumed that Pele's (Edson's, really) way of speaking about Pele in third person was simply a function of his skill at English... interesting to learn his real feelings on the subject.

I was curious about the translation of 'Pele' that Edson mentioned in the article -- a quick google for hebrew->english dictionaries turned up a very close match.

I wonder how a Brazillian child came up with that particular name for him. Marvellous.
posted by stigg at 11:07 AM on June 30, 2003

jeblis: I think you're looking for Fark. It's over there. --->

Fark seems to be down so I thought I'd use a flippant dismissal here. I do realize that most of the world likes football.

Is he any better than current players? Not sure, but
I'd say this is true of any outstanding player in the early years of a sport. They become a legend greater than their abilities were. Would Babe Ruth really be that great against modern equipment,rules, training...or is it just because he was one of the first?
posted by jeblis at 11:53 AM on June 30, 2003

salmacis: it's easy to be amazed by Pele's plays, but we have to remember that football was a lot easier back then. I'm not trying to get into any battle between artistic football versus modern football, but many people wonder if Pele would be a 'god-level' player nowadays.

But one of the reasons why his fame seems to be so different from other sport star's is that he managed it very carefully. He is from a time where the money was not that great (there are many great players like Garrincha that died in poverty), but once the world was amazed by his skills and someone elected him 'Athlete of the Century' (I think it was a French Sports Magazine), he capitalized on that and build himself a reputation.

Personally, I've only seen him playing some 10 years ago, when he turned 50 years old and there was a celebration with a match between Brazil and the rest of the World or something. Didn't impressed me much, but there is footage of many, many great plays from his career that are astonishing.
posted by rexgregbr at 12:26 PM on June 30, 2003

Also, it helps that he has the numbers to support that title. I mean, how many players do we know could brag about scoring more than 1000 goals? He has 3 World Cup titles (tough he barely played in 1962) and 2 World titles with Santos (and therefore 2 South American titles, because it's the tournament that qualifies for what we know as Toyota Cup).

And when you talk about his character, well, he's no angel, but also he's far from all the troubles that plagued Maradona, just to bring an easy example to comparison.
posted by rexgregbr at 12:30 PM on June 30, 2003

rexgregbr, you make some good points. I would add that the absolute (that is, era-independent) quality of his play is perhaps not really relavent; instead he (and Ruth, IMO) are true Elevators, players who rise above just their excellent play and bring large quantities of new fans into their sport. Recent examples would be, clearly, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Wayne Gretzky; Maradonna could have been one had he not fallen prey to the evil powder and David Beckham has the publicity but not the desire.
posted by billsaysthis at 12:41 PM on June 30, 2003

David Beckham has the publicity but not the desire.

He has the desire but not the innate ability - he's worked for his skills they're not pure. Pele however, hovers above Maradona, Cruyff, Best...etc... because he was pure football - 'The Beautiful Game' Pele represents 'hot' football: positivity, warmth and flow. He 'looked' and 'moved' like a thoroughbred, he was born to play.
posted by niceness at 3:29 PM on June 30, 2003

jeblis , no one wants you in this thread , leave .
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:39 PM on June 30, 2003

Pelé is quite a common name in France, but then the Hebrew connection is alot more interesting.
This interview skims over the fact that Pelé's tenure as the Brazilian minister for sport was very successful, given the woeful mess Brazilian football is/was in up to a year or two ago. He gave brazilian footballers alot of rights they didn't have previously - regardless of his motivations.
posted by Celery at 3:44 PM on June 30, 2003

« Older Group of Seven   |   Is Google God? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments