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“The greatest goal I ever scored was a one-two with Celeste – we named him Edson Arantes do Nascimento.”
Dondinho, Pele’s father

“I told myself before the game, ‘he’s made of skin and bones just like everyone else’. But I was wrong.”
Tarcisio Burgnich, the Italy defender who marked Pele in the Mexico 1970 Final

My name is Ronald Reagan, I’m the President of the United States of America. But you don’t need to introduce yourself, because everyone knows who Pele is.”
Ronald Reagan

“The difficulty, the extraordinary, is not to score 1,000 goals like Pele – it’s to score one goal like Pele.”
Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Brazilian poet

“The greatest player in history was Di Stefano. I refuse to classify Pele as a player. He was above that.”
Ferenc Puskas

“In some countries they wanted to touch him, in some they wanted to kiss him. In others they even kissed the ground he walked on. I thought it was beautiful, just beautiful.”

“After the fifth goal, even I wanted to cheer for him.”
Sigge Parling of Sweden on a 5-2 defeat by Brazil in the 1958 FIFA World Cup Final

“I arrived hoping to stop a great man, but I went away convinced I had been undone by someone who was not born on the same planet as the rest of us.”
Costa Pereira on Benfica’s 5-2 loss to Santos in the 1962 Intercontinental Cup in Lisbon

“Pele was the greatest – he was simply flawless. And off the pitch he is always smiling and upbeat. You never see him bad-tempered. He loves being Pele.”

“When I saw Pele play, it made me feel I should hang up my boots.”
Just Fontaine

“Pele was so focused on winning the Trophy. It was like he knew it was his destiny. He was like a child waiting for Santa Claus.”
Mario Americo, Brazil’s masseur, on Mexico 1970

“Pele was one of the few who contradicted my theory: instead of 15 minutes of fame, he will have 15 centuries.”
Andy Warhol

“You may be right. But you know nothing about football and I’ve seen Pele play.”
Brazil coach Vicente Feola to the psychologist who said Pele was too immature to play at Sweden 1958

“Pele was the only footballer who surpassed the boundaries of logic.”
Johan Cruyff

“His great secret was improvisation. Those things he did were in one moment. He had an extraordinary perception of the game.”
Carlos Alberto Torres

“I sometimes feel as though football was invented for this magical player.”
Sir Bobby Charlton

“Pele played football for 22 years, and in that time he did more to promote world friendship and fraternity than any other ambassador anywhere.”
J.B. Pinheiro, the Brazilian ambassador to the United Nations

Malcolm Allison: “How do you spell Pele?”
Pat Crerand: “Easy: G-O-D.”
British television commentators during Mexico 1970