Home » Netflix’s ‘Pelé’ Reveals the Football God’s True Colors

Netflix’s ‘Pelé’ Reveals the Football God’s True Colors


“Football is for people who have guts,” opines Pelé at the start of directors David Tryhorn and Ben Nicholas’ non-fiction biopic Pelé, and no one had more guts than the iconic Brazilian athlete. No one had more talent either, which is what made him the most famous, and greatest, footballer in history.

Completing an unofficial sports-doc trilogy from the past year—following ESPN’s The Last Dance and HBO’s Tiger—Netflix’s Pelé (out Feb. 23) revisits its subject’s unparalleled playing career through a deft assembly of archival clips, commentary from relatives, teammates, journalists and politicians, and interviews with Pelé himself. Now 80 years old, Pelé may arrive on camera with the aid of a walker or in a wheelchair, but his effervescent charisma remains intact as he revisits his glory days, which by their conclusion had resulted in an unthinkable 1,283 goals in 1,367 games and three World Cup titles (both records), which rightfully earned him the nickname “The King.”

Pelé was, and is, the Babe Ruth of football, a truly transformative presence who altered the sports landscape through unparalleled skill, grace, and magnetism. As Tryhorn and Nicholas recount, he rose from humble origins, helping financially support his family by utilizing a shoeshine box that, in present-day footage, he cradles like an old friend, even tapping out a lively beat on its wooden surface. His own abilities on the pitch netted him a 1956 tryout with the Santos football club, and he immediately made a gargantuan impression on everyone. Turning pro at 16, Pelé was an obvious prodigy, and by the time the 1958 World Cup rolled around (in Sweden), he had already begun rewriting Brazil’s reputation from a South American outpost that no one thought about on the global stage to a legitimate powerhouse.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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