Brazil Honors Pele: Christ the Redeemer Statue Illuminated with Football Legend’s Shirt on 1st Anniversary of His Passing

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    On the one-year anniversary of his passing, Brazilians honored the football legend Pele, who died in December 2022 at the age of 82 after battling colon cancer. In a commemorative gesture, a Brazilian shirt adorned with Pele’s name, signature, and the iconic No 10 was projected onto Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue during a ceremony on Friday afternoon.

    Soccer Football – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Group G – Cameroon v Brazil – Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar – December 2, 2022 Brazil fan holds a replica World Cup trophy in front of a banner of former Brazil player Pele inside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Benoit Tessier


    Pope Francis Remembers Pele

    Additionally, the ceremony included a poignant message from Pope Francis, honoring the three-time World Cup winner Pele, known as Mr. Edson Arantes do Nascimento and a devout Catholic. The Pope’s message conveyed, “Pele, undoubtedly recognized globally as Mr. Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was an athlete who exemplified all the positive traits of a sportsman throughout his life.”

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    The memory of ‘the King of Soccer’ is etched indelibly in the minds of many, serving as inspiration for new generations to find in sport a means to strengthen the bonds of unity among us.” This acknowledgment from the Pope added a meaningful and spiritual dimension to the remembrance of the legendary football figure.

    Global Homage to Pele: Religious Ceremonies in Santos and Birthplace

    In addition to the commemorations in Rio de Janeiro, other religious ceremonies unfolded at significant locations tied to Pelé’s life. The Museu Pelé in Santos, the port city where he achieved fame with his remarkable goals and success for Santos FC, hosted one such ceremony. Another took place in Tres Corações, the small city where Pelé was born in 1940.

    FILE PHOTO: Brazilian soccer great Pele attends a news conference to present the FIFA World Cup global “Trophy Tour” in Paris March 10, 2014. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

    Santos FC, the club synonymous with Pelé’s name, organized a tribute at its Vila Belmiro Stadium. During this poignant event, Edson Cholbi do Nascimento, one of Pelé’s sons, released 10 white balloons from the center circle. Notably, Pelé’s funeral was held at this stadium, adding a deeply personal touch to the farewell.

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    Acknowledging Pelé’s global impact, the world football governing body FIFA paid its respects with a video showcasing highlights of the Brazilian legend’s career, accompanied by a heartfelt message: “Pelé’s legacy will always live on.”

    Pele’s Legacy Immortalized

    Earlier this year, the Michaelis dictionary in Brazil made a notable tribute to Pelé by officially adding his name as an adjective. The adjective “Pelé” is now used to describe someone who is “exceptional, incomparable, unique.”

    FILE PHOTO: Legendary Brazilian soccer player Pele poses for a portrait during an interview in New York, U.S., April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

    This decision, announced on a Wednesday, is part of a campaign that garnered significant support, amassing over 125,000 signatures. The move reflects a collective acknowledgment of Pelé’s profound impact extending far beyond the realm of sports, solidifying his legacy as a symbol of exceptionalism and uniqueness in the cultural and linguistic fabric of Brazil.

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    Pele: Revered by Legends and Remembered for Unparalleled Skill and Sportsmanship

    Pele has secured his place in history as one of the most extraordinary footballers to ever grace the planet. Throughout his illustrious playing career, he astonishingly scored 1,282 goals in 1,366 games, including a remarkable tally of 77 goals in 92 appearances for his country.

    The acclaim for Pele transcends time and borders, with football luminaries expressing their admiration. Johan Cruyff remarked that Pele “surpassed the boundaries of logic,” while Franz Beckenbauer, a German legend, hailed him as “the greatest player of all time,” asserting his supremacy over two decades.

    Bobby Moore, an English footballer, considered Pele the most complete player he had ever seen, praising his versatility with two good feet, magic in the air, speed, power, and exceptional skill. Despite standing at only five feet and eight inches, Pele appeared as a giant on the pitch, characterized by perfect balance and unparalleled vision.

    FILE PHOTO: Legendary Brazilian soccer player Pele waves to the spectators before the start of the under-17 boys’ final soccer match of the Subroto Cup tournament at Ambedkar stadium in New Delhi, India, October 16, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

    Even the former Hungarian international Ferenc Puskas, known for his own footballing prowess, refused to classify Pele as a mere player, stating, ‘The greatest player in history was (Alfredo) Di Stefano. I refuse to classify Pele as a player. He was above that.’

    Beyond his extraordinary skills, Pele’s sportsmanship is also legendary. His warm embrace of England captain Bobby Moore after their titanic battle at the 1970 World Cup remains one of the defining images of his illustrious career, highlighting not just his talent but also his grace on and off the pitch.

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