Pele is to soccer what Shakespeare is to the English language: he puts it all together.
He does it with physical qualities that he calls “God’s divine gifts.” He does it with charm, sincerity, friendliness and the desire to be a perfectionist. Universally acclaimed as king of the world’s most popular game.
Known in Brazil as Perola Negra, in France as La Tulipe Noire, in Chile as El Peligro, in Italy, as Il Re and in Greece as O Vasilias, Pele is a citizen of the world.
In the early Seventies, the Biafran war (Nigerian Civil War) was stopped for two days because both sides wanted to see Pele play (?). (Biafran forces surrendered Jan.15 1970)
In his career, Pele had 93 three-goal games and 31 four goal games. He scored 5 goals six times and had eight goals in one game. He led Brazil to three World Cups.
To soccer-loving Americans, however, Pele is the Beatles, Babe Ruth and Billy Graham in one package. “Now that he is gone,” said one Italian-American, “part of my blood is gone. He has taken with him part of the heart of all the people in the world who love soccer.”
NYT 10/2/77 A. Yannis