Photo: Nelson ALMEIDA / AFP
Pel hated the idea of seeing dead people because it was the opposite of the image he wanted to project: that of invincibility.
Pel hated wakes. Whenever asked by his faithful squire and friend Pepito Fornos if he would say goodbye to a friend or a dead figure, Pel replied, No, he wouldn’t. “I’m only going to my funeral because there’s no other way,” he used to say.
There is no exact estimate but thousands of people are expected to parade through Vila Belmiro between this Monday (2nd) and Tuesday (3rd) to bid farewell to the king of football. He died last Thursday (29) of kidney failure, heart failure, bronchopneumonia and colon adenocarcinoma.
Pel hated the idea of seeing dead people, according to people Folha had heard, because it was the opposite of the image he wanted to project: that of invincibility.
One of the stories that most irritated Coutinho in the lovehate relationship with the number 10 was when the two shared attack and the centreforward wore a white armband. Sometimes he justified the story by saying that he did it to differentiate himself from Pel. At other times he denied it.
Likewise, he might use the phrase “king” to refer to his former colleague as ironic. He also came out as a bow from time to time.
Coutinho was even irritated when he met Pel with a gray head and heard him say that he didn’t have a single gray hair.
“Only humans grow old and he doesn’t?” he murmured. Coutinho was three years younger than his attacking partner.
It wasn’t the image of age, of frailty, that Pel wanted to show. The King of Football didn’t like to tell stories, but loved it when someone else did in his presence, about the afternoon he walked the streets of New York to walk alongside American actor Robert Redford. By the time they reached the designated restaurant, Redford had signed five autographs. skin, seven.
This was the star who landed sponsorship deals that led him to travel the world. That wouldn’t happen to a whitehaired idol.
According to friends, the sequences of hip surgeries he started in 2012 to put in a prosthesis and the problem in his right knee and physical therapy sessions (which he felt weren’t working) made him aware of his own physical decline. . But nothing shocked him as much as the death of his brother Zoca in 2020 from prostate cancer.
“I’m just afraid of not being able to fulfill my obligations. I don’t want that. I hope to stay active,” he said after missing the trip to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, following medical recommendations.
It was around the time rumors began circulating that he was “not well”. Everything always denied. From his aides, irritated. From Pel himself, in a good mood.
He did everything he could to keep his schedule active despite the restrictions. Hired for the 2018 Campeonato Carioca launch event, he traveled from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro by car because the car seat left him in a more comfortable position than the one on the Airlift plane. He confessed that he was irritated by the impossibility of fulfilling the commercial commitments that had already been agreed. It was a realization of one’s own mortality.
More than once his children Kely and Edinho had to speak to him about their commitment to the reconstruction work. That trips to the hospital were essential, and so were the hated physical therapy sessions.
“The situation has reversed a bit and I have to play his father’s role a bit,” Edinho said in a funny tone in 2020.
The deaths of Santos’ former teammates like Zito, Dorval and Coutinho brought Pel back to the perception he didn’t want, that things weren’t the same as before. He avoided saying “death”. He commented that it was just him.
Not really. For example, Pepe, 87, and Menglvio, 83, live from the legendary Alvinegro attack.
When asked by Folha in 2018 if he was afraid of death, Pel preferred to use a different term.
“I’m afraid, right? Sometimes you worry a little. If not, nobody would take medicine.”