Brazilian Legend Pele Celebrates 80th Birthday In Isolation


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Regarded by fans around the world to be the greatest footballer to ever grace the sport, Pele will commemorate his 80th birthday on Friday, confined to his home in Brazil because of Covid-19 but meeting the milestone with his trademark laugh.

“The King” has suffered from a series of health problems in recent years, but has not lost his charisma or sense of humor.

“I’m fine, it’s just I won’t be able to play” on his birthday, he joked this week in a video conversation with the head of the Brazilian Football Confederation.


The only player in history to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), Pele plans to celebrate his birthday quietly — as he does almost every year, he says, coronavirus pandemic or not.


But several tributes are planned in Brazil, from an exhibit in his honor at the Sao Paulo Football Museum to a mural designed by renowned street artist Kobra in Santos, the city where Pele started his professional career as a 15-year-old prodigy in 1955.



Pele also recorded a song with Grammy-winning Mexican duo Rodrigo and Gabriela, billed as “a little birthday present for his fans and himself.”

“Thank you to Brazil and all Brazilians. I was always very happy wearing this jersey. Thank you for all your warm wishes for my birthday,” he wrote Wednesday on Instagram, posted with a photo of himself celebrating one of his 1,281 goals.

Whether captured in grainy black and white early in his career, or with his yellow and green number 10 Brazil jersey flitting across the screen in the era of color TV, many of those goals were spectacular displays of athletic prowess, setting the standard for the “jogo bonito,” or “beautiful game,” that would come to define Brazilian football.


His legacy looms so large that FIFA named him the greatest footballer of the 20th century in 2000, alongside Argentina’s Diego Maradona — who celebrates his 60th birthday on October 30.



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