Pele, or to give him his full name, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is one of the best strikers to have walked this earth and played the beautiful game. Or so he would have you believe.
From the São Paulo slums to the bright lights of New York City, Pele became one of the most recognisable faces on the planet, rivalling Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the greatest footballer of all time, and certainly one of the richest.
Besides scoring some ridiculous goals, he has also been known to come out with some truly bizarre comments from time to time, some of which are bang on the money and others which border on the fantasy.
Now that it’s his 81st birthday and he’s still making some outrageous statements in his old age, we’ve compiled 10 of his best quotes to remind everyone just how funny he is.
Check them out below:
1. “Once, in a match in Senegal, the goalkeeper cried so much after I scored that he had to be substituted! He had lost a big bet!” This report suggests otherwise.
2. “I was born to play football, just like Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint.” On himself.
3. “Nick Barmby is up there with Zinedine Zidane, Paolo Maldini and Ronaldo.” Liverpool fans will remember this one.
4. “How can you make a comparison between a guy [Cristiano Ronaldo] who heads the ball well, shoots with the left, shoots with the right and another [Lionel Messi] who only shoots with one leg, only has one skill and doesn’t head the ball well?’’ When asked to settle the GOAT debate between Messi and Ronaldo.
5. “People always ask me: ‘When is the new Pele going to be born?’ Never. My father and mother have closed the factory.” Pele on whether there will be another player like him. The answer: an emphatic no.
6. “I once got sent off in a game against Colombia. The decision was so unpopular with the crowd that the referee then sent himself off!” On the time he was sent off against Colombia in 1968.
7. “For the national team, he’s [Neymar] just an ordinary player. He’s got a huge responsibility and his greatest concern is to change his style, change his haircut. Every match we have outside the country, he doesn’t perform well. Everyone thinks he’s supposed to be the answer to every problem we have in the national team [but] Neymar is not ready for that much weight, he can’t do it.” This one has aged rather well, hasn’t it?
8. “Happy birthday to Sir Elton John. I went to watch him live once. He pointed me out and I had to leave before the crowds got too big!” The best of the lot.
9. “Wherever you go, there are three icons that everyone knows: Jesus Christ, Pele and Coca-Cola.” You have to admire the confidence.
10. “For 20 years they have asked me the same question, who is the greatest? Pele or [Diego] Maradona? I replay that all you have to do is look at the facts – how many goals did he score with his right foot or with his head?” When asked to compare himself to Diego Maradona.
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