PELE WAS A RELIGIOUS MAN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. GOD BLESSED HIM WITH A GREAT LIFE. PELE SAID: “ALL MY LIFE I THANK GOD.” PELE WAS ALSO WISE TO GIVE GOD THANKS FOR HIS AMAZING TALENT; HOWEVER, JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE RELIGIOUS AND MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, IT DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE TRUE BELIEVERS IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Daniel Whyte III President of Gospel Light Society International says all that matters now for Pele and for you is whether or not he was “born-again” saved through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ . . .
PELE WAS A RELIGIOUS MAN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. GOD BLESSED HIM WITH A GREAT LIFE. PELE SAID: “ALL MY LIFE I THANK GOD.” PELE WAS ALSO WISE TO GIVE GOD THANKS FOR HIS AMAZING TALENT; HOWEVER, JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE RELIGIOUS AND MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, IT DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE TRUE BELIEVERS IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Daniel Whyte III President of Gospel Light Society International says all that matters now for Pele and for you is whether or not he was “born-again” saved through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. For Jesus Christ said the most loving, the most magnificent, and the most important words in the history of the world to Pele and to all mankind: “FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.” All that matters now, is not his three World Cups, not his endorsements and money, and not his fame — all that matters now is whether or not he truly believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior before he died. And all that is going to matter when you die is whether or not you are “born-again” saved. So get your eternal life insurance policy squared away right now, which is free and already paid for and signed in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is how you can get saved from the power of your sins in this life and from the punishment of your sins in hell:
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Mark 9:43-48: “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
The crowd is gathering outside Eyestorm, a tiny gallery off Regent Street. Camera crews, snappers, local workers and passersby. “Who are they waiting for?” people ask as they stroll past. “Pele!” whispers the crowd. “Pele? Really? Pele?” So the crowd thickens. It’s 32 years since Pele retired from international football, but everybody still wants to shake hands with the world’s greatest.
Eventually the car draws up to a muffled roar. Pele steps out. It’s the first time I’ve had a lump in my throat before an interview. He is 62, and has barely changed over the decades. As a kid he looked eerily mature. Now he looks eerily young. The hair is still a natural dense black, he is tidy and trim and surprisingly small. His feet, clad in smart leather shoes, look tiny. Eamonn, the photographer, says how come big Bobby Moore couldn’t get to grips with Pele.
But he couldn’t. Nobody could. The records are repeated again and again – more than 1,200 goals scored in professional football, 90-odd hat-tricks, three World-Cup winner medals. Perhaps he’s even better remembered for the goals he almost scored in the 1970 World Cup finals: the audacious shot from within his own half; the dummy he played against the goalkeeper, sending the ball one way and running the other; the header into the bottom corner that resulted in Gordon Banks pulling off what is often regarded as the greatest save ever. He had everything as a player – pace, poise, strength, balance, and the most incredible vision. But he was more than a player. Somehow, he seemed to embody innocence, goodness and, for so many years, incorruptibility.
He is being herded into the gallery to open an exhibition of Pele photographs. Ralph Gibson shows Pele with his head pressed against a ball which in turn is pressed against a wall; William Klein has montaged seven Peles into one group shot; British artist Marc Quinn has him with a silver ball balanced on his head. In the most interesting picture, by Tierney Gearon, Pele is casually eating breakfast and stroking a dog while a semi-naked pregnant woman (Gearon herself) talks into the phone. But, on the whole, this is business masquerading as art. The photographs are commercial images that will doubtless appear in myriad marketing campaigns. Prints are priced from £500 to £10,000 a pop.
Here at Eyestorm the old football world and the new one merge uneasily. Pele is all warmth and charm, while his business partners, who own the image rights, are cold and calculated.
Pele is shepherded from one camera crew to another. He looks lost but gives as much time as he is allowed. We are kept waiting till the end, having been promised the only “proper” interview. Anisa, who is doing work experience at the Guardian, is with us. She has cerebral palsy and gets around, at a crazy pace, using a frame with wheels. Pele notices her taking a photo as he is marched to yet another interview. He stops, asks for Anisa’s camera, calls someone over and asks if she could take a photo of the two of them together.
He rejoins the press corps who want to talk about his golden moments. Does he wish that he had scored the goal when he dummied the keeper? “Listen,” he says, “I scored a lot of goals in this World Cup that people don’t remember. This play, every place I go people talk about it. If it was a goal people might not have remembered it.” And his smile lights the room up. He is asked about his mastery of the bicycle kick. “The bicycle kick is not easy to do,” he says. “I scored 1,283 goals and only two or three were bicycle kicks.”
Anisa and I finally get our turn. She is 16, has no right to remember him, but like so many teenagers she’s a massive Pele fan. She sits next to him on the sofa. He takes her hand as he talks to her. There are few people who have such an effect on others – Princess Di, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela. To be touched by Pele is to be blessed.
He was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, and often talks of Pele in the third person. It’s as if they are two different people, and Edson is Pele’s representative on earth, I say. “Yes, I feel like that. I used to go out and people said Pele! Pele! Pele! Pele! all over the world, but no one remembers Edson. Edson is the person who has the feelings, who has the family, who works hard, and Pele is the idol. Pele doesn’t die. Pele will never die. Pele is going to go on for ever. But Edson is a normal person who is going to die one day, and the people forget that.
When he was eight years old he was playing football, and one boy started to call him Pele. He didn’t have a clue why. The word had no meaning, so he presumed it was an insult. “I said, ‘Why are you making a joke about me, why d’you call me Pele? And every kid started to tease me. Then I fight with him. I say my name is Edson. Then all the kids from the school start to call me Pele in the classroom. So I fight in the classroom. I get two days’ suspension. Then my father, who was also a footballer, had to go to school because the director called him.” Soon enough, his parents were calling him Pele.
The separation of Pele and Edson seems to have kept him grounded. It allows him to celebrate his genius without sounding horribly arrogant. “I think of Pele as a gift of God,” he says. “We have billions of billions of people in the world, and we have one Beethoven, one Bach, one Michelangelo, one Pele. That is the gift of God.” All he can do, he says, is to try to be a good person, to repay God, and repay the people for their love, and honour Pele.
Has God always been important to him? “All my life I thank God. My family was very religious.” It’s incredible, I say, how many Brazilian people manage to marry such faith with such corruption. “Yes, there is a story,” he says. “Jesus says to St Peter, ‘Come with me because I want to set up the world.’ So St Peter starts to talk with Jesus and says, ‘Let’s put the minerals in this country – you know, the gold and diamonds, we’ll put it here.’ Then Jesus says, ‘Let’s also put a beautiful beach here.’ Then he says, ‘Oh, let’s put a big beautiful forest here.’ Then St Peter says, ‘Jesus Christ! Everything good you put in Brazil. What about the other countries?’ Jesus says, ‘Wait, you’re going to see the people I put there!'” He belly laughs. “See! That is the joke!”
Between 1995 and 1998, Pele was Brazil’s Extraordinary Minister for Sport and, amazingly, the country’s first black minister. He tried to clean up football, but soon found himself under attack. Was he surprised? He shakes his head and says that there is a thin line between love and hate and when you confront corruption, you discover this. “I wanted to make a law to punish the presidents of clubs who don’t use the money properly and then I became the big enemy. Everybody said, ‘Oh Pele doesn’t know anything about football.'” Did the criticism hurt? “No, because the majority of the people know who I am, and the people who said that it was better if the game stayed the same, if they start to say good things about me, then I would worry. I prefer to stay away from these people.”
What was undeniably harmful was when his own company, Pele Sport and Marketing, was accused of stealing $700,000 (£425,000) belonging to Unicef. Pele sued his partner, Helio Viana, told the world that he believed Viana had stolen up to $10m from his company, including the Unicef cash, and closed the company. He admitted that he had been naive, but his critics said that he was too old for such a plea and suggested that his entrance into political life had been motivated by greed, not altruism (enabling him to win more contracts for his company); that a man estimated to be earning £18m a year – his face sells Mastercard, Coca-Cola, Nokia and, indirectly, Viagra (though he is quick to point out he is not impotent) – cannot be that naive.
But there does seem something wide-eyed and innocent about the man. I ask him why corruption is so much part of Brazilian life. “I think it’s because they don’t give space to the educated people, the people who have been to college. If you don’t give education to people, it is easy to manipulate them.”
Pele seems happy to talk about corruption. But his men in the background are becoming irritable. The man who owns image rights to the exhibition complains that we’ve not talked about the pictures. He says we have 10 more minutes, and suggests we spend them looking at the photographs.
I ask Pele about a lovely, enigmatic picture taken when he was 17 – he is on the pitch holding his head in his hands. He looks at the photo. “I didn’t have a clue what happened. It all looked like a dream. I had no responsibility. I was just a normal player.” When did he realise that he had a special responsibility? He reassesses. “No, at 17 I already had responsibility because I took care of my family, but in the football I was young, I wasn’t experienced or the captain, I was just in the team.”
He talks about the importance of family. He has been married twice, and has six children, two from his first wife, two from his current wife, and two out of marriage. Have any gone into football? “My son Edinho is a goalkeeper for Santos. I told him he was crazy – I used to kill the goalkeeper.”
He seems much more interested in the photos of him in action than the new ones, and even more interested in the video showing classic action. He stops in front of it, and jabbers faster and faster in Portuguese to a friend, till he sounds like a combustible Brazilian football commentator. He really does look like a child now, standing there, fascinated and awed by his younger self. I ask him a question, but he’s too engrossed to hear. “No, wait. I want to see Pele,” he says. “It looks like yesterday.”
The image rights people tell me Pele has to leave now. I beg another few minutes, and they allow me to travel the five minutes’ drive to the hotel with him. Outside, he struggles through the crowd. All I can hear is “Pele! Pele! Pele! Pele!” and his response, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” He bangs on the roof of the car and we’re off.
I ask him if there’s anything he dislikes about himself, anything he regards as a weakness? “What I feel very weak about is what we started talking about downstairs. After I scored my 1,000th goal in the Maracana I started a movement for schools in Brazil.” He made a speech saying that the only hope for the children lay in education. “That was my goal, but I’ve not seen this goal. I’ve not seen this prosperity. And this makes me feel very sad.” He feels he could have done more? “Exactly. I don’t know how, but I must continue to fight to do more, to do my best. I represent Brazil all over the world. Wherever I go I have to do my best, to not disappoint the Brazilian people. And that I’ve done. But the fight against corruption, no.”