Brazil mourns Pelé, who made all regions of the country proud

Bocaina de Minas, BRAZIL (AP) — On a dirt road in the mountains of Minas Gerais, Pelé’s home state, Jorge Tavares heard the news of the star’s death during a 4-minute newscast morning hours the next day.

As a child, Tavares and his cousins ​​would listen to Pelé’s World Cup matches on the radio. His dazzling performance inspired them to play a game they had never seen, first using a ball made from socks and string.

“We feel that a lot. He leaves a legacy, a person of color who was crowned the king of football, and he also brought a lot of peace outside of Brazil,” Tavares, a 67-year-old school van driver, said in an interview over barbed wire. fence outside his house. « He represented Brazil to everyone abroad. »

With the death of Pelé, Brazilians have lost a part of their hearts.

On Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, the news broke as Paulo Vinicius was playing football with his 9-year-old nephew.

« Pelé represents the best of Brazil: its people, its working class, » said Vinicius, 38, a physical education teacher. « Pelé gives a sense of identity to the Brazilian people. »

Roseli Augusto, 55, was in her small bar on a dirt road in the mountains of Minas Gerais when she heard the news of the star’s death.

“I was very sad, really shocked. Pelé is an idol, the best player in the world. He is definitely that,” Augusto said. She remembers her father taking a bus to the coastal town of Santos to watch Pelé play. « We grew up hearing about Pelé. »

“Many children, many players, have been inspired by him. He is our biggest sporting idol.

At the end of a dirt road in the mountains of Minas Gerais, Lucia Cunha, 68, learned from Facebook that the legend had passed.

As a girl, she had listened to her World Cup exploits while huddled around a radio with her siblings, and had heard about her game at Santos football club from the newspapers used to wrap bread and other household items. To this day, many of his family members are ardent Santos fans solely because of Pelé.

« He was a symbol of football, a great player, a simple and humble person, a person of God, a good person, who did everything he could, » Cunha said.

In Santos, Nicolas Oliveira, 18, was outside the stadium with around 200 other people. Oliveira said even replays of Pele’s sensational play made him swell with emotion.

« Pelé is a black man from the interior of the state of Minas Gerais, » Oliveira said. « I am here because of what he has done, for the football he has played, for the football he has improved and for the future players he has helped train and inspire. »

Everton Luz, a 41-year-old lawyer, was crying outside the hospital with a Santos club flag wrapped around him. He had come straight from work to pay tribute to the player whose performances had electrified his own father and sparked decades of stories.

Luz tells these stories to her two children and shows them videos of the idol. He remembers seeing Pelé in person once, watching a game in a stadium.

« We managed to approach his box and he said goodbye to us, » Luz said. « He was an example of the Brazilian, of what we could become. »


Biller reported from the state of Minas Gerais. AP writer Carla Bridi contributed from Sao Paulo.

David Biller and Diane Jeantet, The Associated Press


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