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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Pele ‘would have been sad’ at state of Brazil team, says son

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Sao Paolo, Brazil—Pele “would have been sad” at the state of the current Brazilian national team, his son Edinho has told AFP in an interview days before the first anniversary of his death on Friday.

Brazil have struggled in qualifying for the 2026 World Cup and presently occupy sixth place in the South American table, the last spot that affords direct qualification.

The Selecao have struggled without their biggest current star, Neymar, who is a long-term injury absentee after tearing knee ligaments.

“This crisis didn’t appear overnight, there are big and complex problems,” said Edinho, 53, who is one of Pele’s seven children.

“We are experiencing a decline… we still have great players but in previous times we had more high-level players than we do today.”

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Edinho, who was raised by his mother as Pele and her separated shortly after they moved to New York when he signed for New York Cosmos in 1975 but grew closer to him in later life, added: “There is no doubt, if (Pele) had been there this year, he would have been very sad.”

Santos, the Brazilian club where Pele spent most of his career, are also going through a tough period after they were relegated to the second division for the first time in its 111-year history.

The club is wracked by financial problems and boardroom rifts.

“Unfortunately this is no surprise. Anyone who has followed the daily life of the club could have anticipated such a scenario, and it has ended up happening,” said Edinho, who was Santos’ goalkeeper for several seasons.

The ceremonies to mark Friday’s first anniversary of Pele’s death from cancer at the age of 82 are expected to be low-key.

The six surviving children of the man widely considered the greatest footballer in history will hold a virtual meeting to mark the moment as several live in the United States, while a ceremony is scheduled to be held at the mausoleum in Santos that was opened to the public in May. 

Edinho, whose life has been far from smooth serving time for money laundering and drug trafficking, said the loss of the charismatic man who scored 77 goals in 92 appearances for Brazil had left a huge hole in the family’s life.

“He was exceptional, we miss him a lot,” Edinho said. “He carried our country’s name through football, which we are very proud of.”

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