‘Born To Play Football’: Top Quotes About Brazil Legend Pele

Brazilian football legend Pele, who died on Thursday at the age of 82, is widely considered the greatest footballer of all time.

AFP Sport picks out his best quotes and quotes about him:

“People argue between Pele or Maradona. Di Stefano is the best, much more complete.”

-― Pele shuts down the eternal debate on who is the greatest by anointing Maradona’s fellow Argentinian and Real Madrid legend Alfredo di Stefano in 2009.

“I was born to play football, just like Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint.”

— Pele to

“Every kid around the world who plays soccer wants to be Pele. I have a great responsibility to show them not just how to be like a soccer player, but how to be like a man.”

— Pele to Sports Illustrated in 1999 on the extra burden of fame.

“I think it was very similar. The emotion was almost the same. When Brazil lost, it looked like something died, the country died–the same as what happened with Kennedy. I was 9 years old. It was the first time I saw my father crying.”

— Pele in 2014 on Brazil’s defeat in the 1950 World Cup final

“A penalty is a cowardly way to score.”

-― Pele in ‘Pele: The Autobiography’.

“Everything on earth is a game. A passing thing. We all end up dead. We all end up the same, don’t we?”

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— Pele in 1977.

“When he did this, blood came from the dead man’s mouth. The doctor dropped the arm and I turned around to be sick. For a long time I would wake up at night, screaming.”

— Pele to GQ in 2012 on the turning point when he came across a dead glider pilot which ended his dreams of being a pilot himself.

“I have scored more than a thousand goals in my life and the thing people always talk to me about is the one I didn’t score.”

— Pele on the extraordinary save by England goalkeeper Gordon Banks in their 1970 World Cup match.

“Everything good, it is Pele who does it. The bad is (my given name) Edson.”

— Pele to Time Magazine in 2014 on why he referred to himself as 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.”

— Pele on football immortality and human mortality to The Guardian 2003

What they said about Pele

“The best ever is Pele. He is just ahead of Messi. I’ve never seen a player like Pele. I played with him at the New York Cosmos and you would give him the ball and just not see him again because he was too fast. Pele was all instinct.”

Franz Beckenbauer.

“Pele represented everything in soccer because of what he did on the pitch.”

— Mario Zagallo, a team-mate of Pele’s in the 1958 and 1962 World Cup winning sides and who coached the magical team including Pele that won the 1970 World Cup.

“Pele has said he’s the Beethoven of football. I’ve never heard any Beethoven music in a match so, as I’ve told you before, anytime he takes the wrong pill he comes up with a crazy statement.”

— Diego Maradona in 2012, adding he was the “rock star” of football.

“An artist in my eyes is someone who can lighten up a dark room. I have never and will never find difference between the pass from Pele to Carlos Alberto in the final of the World Cup in 1970 and the poetry of the young Rimbaud. There is in each of these human manifestations an expression of beauty which touches us and gives us a feeling of eternity.”

— French star Eric Cantona.

“Pele was the only footballer who surpassed the boundaries of logic.”

— Dutch master Johan Cruyff

“I told myself before the game, he’s made of skin and bones just like everyone else -— but I was wrong.”

— Italy defender Tarcisio Burgnich who was assigned the task of marking Pele in the 1970 World Cup final. He was booked in the 27th minute as Brazil went on to win 4-1 with Pele scoring one of the goals.

“I can still picture him in Studio 54, a blonde on each arm, looking like a Roman emperor reclining on a gilded divan with toga-clad damsels feeding him grapes. We were working on the memoir at the time. Our eyes met and he said: ‘Not for the book, my friend, not for the book’.”

— Journalist David Hirshey who broke the story of Pele joining the New York Cosmos and along with Pele wrote the memoir ‘Pele’s New World’.

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