Football fans will see Pele is now a frail figure in a new documentary as he cannot walk unaided and needs a zimmer frame or wheelchair to move around.
The Brazilian, arguably the greatest footballer to ever live, talks at length in the Netflix film about his life and triumph at the 1970 World Cup.
In the opening scene as he walks into a room to begin one of eight interviews conducted by the filmmakers, he needs a metal frame to help him walk which he throws aside when he gets to his chair.
Later in the film he joins former Santos teammates at a BBQ but needs to be pushed along in a wheelchair when he arrives.
He jokes: “Look how well I am,” and takes control of the wheels to spin around in the chair briefly to cheers from his ex-teammates.
Director David Tryhorn says it was important to show Pele tossing the frame to one side. “We didn’t stage that at all,” says Tryhorn.
“We felt it was important to show one of the greatest athletes experience problems with walking, but still rejects that.
“We always knew we wanted to start the film with that punch to the gut.”
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Speaking last year Pele’s son Edinho told Brazilian TV channel Globo that Pele’s health was not good. He said: “He’s pretty fragile. He had a hip replacement and didn’t have an adequate or ideal rehabilitation.
“So he has this problem with mobility and that has set off a kind of depression. Imagine, he’s the king, he was always such an imposing figure, and today he can’t walk properly.
“He’s embarrassed, he doesn’t want to go out, be seen, or do practically anything that involves leaving the house. He is reclusive.” Pele subsequently released a statement denying any depression.
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In the new film Pele breaks down and admits also crying on his way to the 1970 final because he felt so much pressure from a nation under an evil dictatorship. But thankfully Brazil won.
Tearful Pele says: “The 1970 World Cup was the best time of my life, but it was more important for the country because if Brazil had lost in ’70 everything could have become worse.
“The whole country could take a breath when we became champions. 1970 definitely did more for Brazil than it did for football.”
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