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Soccer-Pele approaches 80 amid GOAT debate

The man known in Brazil as the King traded barbs with Maradona for years and has more recently sought to play down Messi’s designs on his crown, saying the Argentine has only one foot and can’t head the ball as well as he did. Brazilians, however, see Pele as a national treasure and are celebrating his birthday on Friday with special newspaper sections, TV specials and an exhibition at the Football Museum.

Reuters | Updated: 22-10-2020 00:20 IST | Created: 22-10-2020 00:20 IST
Soccer-Pele approaches 80 amid GOAT debate

Brazilian soccer great Pele celebrates his 80th birthday this week and he is still revered in his home country even if his once unassailable position as the greatest player of all time is under increasing scrutiny. The Santos, New York Cosmos and Brazil striker is the only man to win the World Cup three times and was for decades widely held to be the greatest of all time (GOAT).

However, the arrival of Diego Maradona in the 1990s challenged Pele’s hegemony and the phenomenal exploits of Lionel Messi at Barcelona has intensified further the eternal debate over who is the GOAT. The man known in Brazil as the King traded barbs with Maradona for years and has more recently sought to play down Messi’s designs on his crown, saying the Argentine has only one foot and can’t head the ball as well as he did.

Brazilians, however, see Pele as a national treasure and are celebrating his birthday on Friday with special newspaper sections, TV specials and an exhibition at the Football Museum. “He’s a living legend, we have to revere our idols while they’re still alive and still with us,” said Gabriel Oliveira, a visitor to the exhibition in Sao Paulo. “He’s done so much. Thanks to him Brazil is known the world over.”


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