190404 Pele
Brazilian soccer legend Pele Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: It is sad news indeed that Brazil footballing legend Pele is embarrassed to leave his home due to his declining health.

The man many regard as the greatest player of all time is experiencing “a kind of depression” and barely leaves home anymore because health problems have left him unable to walk normally, according to his son Edinho.

The 79-year-old’s recent public appearances have been in a wheelchair and Edinho has revealed that his father is ashamed to go out due to his declining condition.

“Just imagine, he’s the ‘King,’ he was always such an imposing figure, and now he can’t walk normally,” said Edinho. “He gets very shy, very embarrassed about that,”

But age comes to us all Pele, and if any one of us had achieved even a sliver of what you have managed to do over the past seven decades, we should be filled with pride.

Pele celebrates after winning his third World Cup with Brazil in 1970
Pele celebrates after winning his third World Cup with Brazil in 1970 Image Credit: AP

Pele was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento and he single-handedly turned football into a global phenomenon and created ‘The Beautiful Game’ when he appeared as a fresh-faced 17-year-old at the 1958 World Cup. He is the only player to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970) and scored a world record tally of 1,281 goals in a 1,363-match professional career that spanned 21 years. He was capped 91 times for Brazil and scored 77 international goals.

Off the field, he is known for his charity work, sport and health development in underprivileged parts of the world — he was appointed a Unesco Goodwill Ambassador in 1994 — and has made a strong public stance against corruption in sport and politics for decades.

Ronaldo with his hero Pele Image Credit: AFP

Pele’s legacy is not as a frail man nearing his eighties, it is the sometimes superhuman athlete who has adorned countless bedroom walls in posters and inspired many of today’s top stars — Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both cite him as their hero — to lace up their boots for the first time.

Stay proud, Pele, you will always be the iconic figure for football fans across the globe and will continue to be a hero for many more generations to come.