Sporting Life

Pele, the man who made us love football

Brazil's Pele celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the 1970 Fifa World Cup match between Brazil and Italy. PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES/SPORTING PICTURE
Pele during the launch of the re-turfed football pitch at the Singapore Sports School on March 4, 2011. PHOTO: ST FILE
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Football today is a lesser nation and yellow seems like a dimmer colour. The man who brought so many of us to this game has been felled by cancer. Yet while Pele, 82, has gone, he can never leave the game. Football will never stop saying his name.

All week we’re going to be sitting in mournful huddles and swopping stories because everyone has one. We’ll speak about his terrific leap for a man of middling height (1.73m), the deep voice, the unchanging hairstyle, the dummy of Uruguayan goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz and the casually gorgeous pass to Carlos Alberto – here, friend, shoot – in the 1970 World Cup final. Years later Eric Cantona would describe it as “an expression of beauty”.

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