Reclusive Pele cuts a frail figure as he relies on a walking frame to turn up at a rare interview, with the 80-year-old finally agreeing to be the focus of a new Netflix show after suffering from depression and problems from a hip replacement
- Brazilian icon Pele is widely considered to be the greatest footballer of all time
- He lifted the World Cup twice with Brazil, once in 1958 and again 12 years later
- Now 80, the former Santos striker has opened up on his career in a documentary
Released on Tuesday, the film Pele, codirected by David Tryhorn and Ben Nicholas, involves a series of interviews with the former forward and those close to him.
While the film goes into detail never previously discussed by the 80-year-old in front of camera before, it is his physical condition that is perhaps the most telling story of all.
Footballing icon Pele appears frail as he appears in a new Netflix documentary on his career
The 80-year-old makes his way in front of the camera with the help of a walking frame
Pele and Bobby Moore swaps shirts after their group stage clash at the 1970 World Cup
Entering the screen for the first time, Pele is only able to make his way to the chair in the centre of a room with the aid of a walking frame.
Once he gets to the seat, he chucks the frame to one side before starting the interview.
His mobility issues are accentuated later on, when he turns up to a BBQ in a wheelchair.
Pele has undergone hip surgery previously, but as his son Edinho since admitted, his recovery has not gone to plan.
‘He’s pretty fragile. He had a hip replacement and didn’t have an adequate or ideal rehabilitation,’ Edinho told Brazilian TV channel Globo last year.
‘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 came out to deny those claims, and the new documentary certainly seems to go against those claims.
Pele is hoisted on the shoulders of supporters after Brazil win the 1970 World Cup in Mexico
Speaking about the process of getting him in front of the camera, codirector Nicholas said it took them eight months of negotiations with his representatives to finally secure the time to talk with him.
‘Every time he’s left the house for the last 65 years, [he] has had a microphone pushed in his face,’ he told GQ.
‘So he has maybe created these stock answers to get himself through interviews. It was about working through those and then saying to him, “We want to do something deeper”.’
One of the most profound images from the documentary is the sight of Pele crying as he recalls the 1970 World Cup success, as he talks on the relief felt from lifting the trophy during a difficult era for Brazil.
Under a military dictatorship at the time, the victory helped to lift the mood in a country
‘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, he says.
‘The whole country could take a breath when we became champions. 1970 definitely did more for Brazil than it did for football.’
Pele could be seen attending a BBQ in the documentary, arriving with the help of a wheelchair