Edson Arantes do Nascimento anointed as simply, Pele, the legendary Brazilian football (soccer) player who rose from poverty to become the King of Football, died December 29, 2022, at 82.

We are inundated 24/7 with instant blurts of information – news, current affairs, entertainment, and sport – it is easy to glance over stories – skim story to story – yet time suddenly froze.

We woke up only a day ago, to hear of Pele’s death. The world seemed to take a breath, a sigh, every continent, Latin America, North America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

It is hard to fathom the gravity of Pele’s life. It is hard to measure the impact he had on his sport and mass popular culture.

When he visited Washington to promote the game in North America it was the U.S. President who stuck out his hand first:

“My name is Ronald Reagan, I’m the President of the United States of America but you don’t need to introduce yourself because everyone knows who Pele is.”

Muhammad Ali, voted by many as the greatest athlete of the 20th Century became a star-struck child when he first met Pele. The bravado, the theatre, the grace, and power – fell away in Ali.

“Absolutely everybody wanted to shake his hand, to get a photo with him. Saying you had partied with Pele was the biggest badge of honour going,” the Stone’s front man, Mick Jagger once said.

Last week, on 5th Avenue, Manhattan, I stumbled onto a sports shop called Pele, a talisman.

More than 40 years after his last kick of the ball his name is still up in lights.

He desired for a better world, a world free of the poverty, racism and hunger he experienced growing up as a poor black boy in Bauru, in Sao Paolo state.

To understand Pele’s football greatness, we need to look at his goal statistics and achievements.

The only player in history to achieve three World Cup victories, he won his first world cup at the ripe age of 17 years old. Wikipedia puts him down for 700 appearances with 655 goals, 1200 goals if you include friendlies and exhibitions. Two Copa Libertadores; FIFA Player of the Century, shared with Diego Maradona and various Brazilian State and National Titles with Santos. Pele was the perfect footballer, no weakness. A freak who possessed every armament a footballer can possess. He was fast, crafty, tactically cunning, technically perfect, excelled on both feet, was gifted in the air, he was durable and had a champion’s psyche.

In his first World Cup triumph, in 1958 Pele was a 17-year-old boy selected initially as a reserve player. He scored two goals and took Sweden apart in the final.

Reflect where you were at 17 and what you were trying to achieve, in a sporting, or any pursuit.

Football teams rarely trust a 17-year-old to perform a role in a team, yet Pele heads the forward line in a World Cup Final and wins the game.

Fifty-four years later we still haven’t seen anything like him, and I doubt we will in the next 54 years.

In 1962 and 1966 he was targeted and forced out of the tournament by ruthless, and illegal tackles. It brought him to the point of despair. He announced his retirement from international football. Thankfully he changed his mind to perform a master class performance in 1970. In a deeper-lying 10 role, his team swept to victory over Italy in Mexico capturing the hearts of the world in the game’s first globalised televised on colour TV.

Social and legacy media have been flooded by commentary, reports, and condolences from every nation and from most leaders, on the passing of the King.

One opponent’s words were: “For me Pele’ was the greatest. I would describe him as a great man, on top of being an extraordinary athlete and footballer. I also want to point out: despite being known everywhere, he has never been pilloried, because of gossip, or things of that nature. A true example. Pele didn’t have something more than others…. Pele had everything. The ability of a champion, perfect body, professionalism. On top of the extraordinary class that he had in great quantity, enough he could have sold it.”

As a man Pele was kind, soft spoken, approachable, and humble.

He desired for a better world, a world free of the poverty, racism and hunger he experienced growing up as a poor black boy in Bauru, in Sao Paolo state.

At the peak of his fame, he stopped a civil war in Nigeria for a short time to allow him to play, he performed social work all around the world and spread love.

A remarkable life from a remarkable man.

His legacy will live forever; the name Pele is engrained in culture. RIP King.

Peter Kokotis is a former football agent and is now a youth director in South Melbourne SC.