Brazilian soccer great Pelé turns 80, isolated at home

SAO PAULO (AP) : Brazilian soccer great Pelé turns 80 on Friday, but the celebration will have to wait.

The three-time World Cup winner will spend the day isolated with a few family members outside Sao Paulo, where he is expected to receive a flood of tributes from players, fans, celebrities and politicians.

His long-time spokesman, Pepito Fornos, said Pelé will likely spend his birthday at his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, on the coast of Sao Paulo state, where he has been since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also has residences in Santos and Sao Paulo.

“He will only stay with his family. No party at all,” Fornos told The Associated Press. “That has been the case all his life.”

Fornos said Pelé isn’t speaking publicly because he is still mourning his brother Jair, who died of cancer in March.

FILE – In this Sept. 1968 file photo, Brazil’s Pele kicks the ball during a friendly soccer game against Belgium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo, File)
FILE – In this June 29, 1958 file photo, Brazil’s 17-year-old Pele, left, weeps on the shoulder of goalkeeper Gylmar Dos Santos Neves, as Didi stands right, after Brazil’s 5-2 victory over Sweden in the final of the soccer World Cup in Stockholm, Sweden. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo, File)
FILE – In this May 25, 1962 file photo, Brazil’s Pele wears his national team’s jersey in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pele turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo, File)
FILE – In this March 5, 1966 file photo, Brazilian soccer star Pele and his wife Rosemarie drink wine as Heuriger singers perform at a tavern in Vienna, Austria, one day after the couple arrived for thier honeymoon. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo, File)
FILE – In this Aug. 1969 file photo, Brazil’s Pele scores past Venezuela’s goal keeper Fabrizio Fasano in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo, File)
FILE – In this June 21, 1970 file photo, Brazil’s Pele jumps for joy after scoring his team’s first goal against Italy in the first half of a World Cup final at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, before winning 4 – 1. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Kurt Strumpf, File)

Pelé is Brazil’s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals, although Neymar is closing in on that record with 64. But the Paris Saint-Germain striker trails far behind when it comes to World Cup titles, which Pelé won in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

No other player has accomplished that feat.

Pelé also collected a slew of trophies for Brazilian club Santos from 1956-74, including 10 Sao Paulo state league titles, which was a top tournament at the time, six Brazilian championships, two Copa Libertadores titles and the Intercontinental Cup in 1962 and 1963.

FILE – In this June 21, 1970 file photo, Brazil’s Pele holds up his team’s Jules Rimet Trophy, or the FIFA World Cup Trophy, following Brazil’s 4-1 victory over Italy at the World Cup at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo, File)
FILE – In this March 30, 1971 file photo, Brazil’s soccer player Pele flashes victory signs as he rides down the Champs Elysees on his way to a reception at the Town Hall in Paris, France. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Levy, File)
FILE – In this May 8, 1973 file photo, Brazil’s soccer player Pele holds a ball he autographed for U.S. President Richard Nixon, who holds a 1957 newspaper clipping shown them together in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Pele’s wife Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi looks on, at the chief executive’s office in Washington, D.C. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Henry Burroughs, File)
FILE – In this June 12, 1975 file photo, Brazil’s soccer player Pele pretends to ballet dance during a calisthenics routine as he works out with his new teammates, the New York Cosmos, in Uniondale New York. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/ Richard Drew, File)
FILE – In this Aug. 25, 1977 file photo, New York Cosmos player Pele runs onto the field after his introduction before a crowd prior to a game against Rochester Lancers in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine, File)
FILE – In this July 26, 1977 file photo, surrealist artist Andy Warhol speaks with Brazil’s soccer player Pele about a portrait after Warhol was commissioned to make a series of portraits of athletic stars in New York. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Claudia Larson, File)

The Brazilian ended his career with the New York Cosmos, where he played from 1975-77, winning one national title and attracting sports greats like boxer Muhammad Ali to watch him play as soccer took root in the United States.

Pelé was also Brazil’s sports minister from 1995-98. Two years later, he shared the FIFA award for player of the century with Argentina great Diego Maradona. The Brazilian received the most votes from members of the soccer body, while the Argentine prevailed in an online vote.

Since 1992, Pelé has done charity work as a U.N goodwill ambassador. He stopped his career as a businessman in 2004 after failed attempts in the sports marketing field.

The soccer great has had mobility problems since a failed hip replacement surgery in 2012. He has been forced to use walkers and wheelchairs in public. He has also been admitted to hospitals in recent years for kidney and prostate procedures.

FILE – In this Aug. 29, 1977 file photo, New York Cosmos’ soccer player Pele, center left, kisses his team’s trophy, held up by team captain Werner Roth, at New York’s Kennedy Airport as the team returns after winning the North American Soccer League Championship against the Seattle Sounders. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo, File)
FILE – In this Oct. 1, 1977 file photo, Pele embraces U.S. boxer Muhammad Ali during a ceremony honoring the Brazilian soccer star who plays for the New York Cosmos at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., before Cosmos’ 2-1 victory over Brazil’s Santos, the final game of Pele’s career, in which he played on both sides, one each half. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo, File)
FILE – In this Feb. 4, 1979 file photo, Brazil’s soccer player Pele waves to fans after being crowned “King of Soccerdom,” a gift from America Club of Mexico, made of gold and silver and worth $13,000 dollars. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo, File)
FILE – In this March 18, 1987 file photo, Pope John Paul II shakes hands with Brazil’s former soccer player Pele during a private audience at the Vatican. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Arturo Mari, File)
FILE – In this June 25, 2008 file photo, Brazil’s former soccer player Pele attends the inauguration of an exhibit about his life, coined King’s Marks, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brazil’s World Cup win in 1958, in Brasilia, Brazil. On Oct. 23, 2020, the three-time World Cup winner Pelé turns 80 without a proper celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as he quarantines in his mansion in the beachfront city of Guarujá, where he has lived since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)

The celebrations in Brazil for Pelé began on Feb. 20, but he didn’t attend the unveiling of a lifesize statue of him at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro that day.

That was also part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Brazil’s 1970 World Cup triumph, which was for many the greatest moment of Pelé’s decorated career.

By : MAURICIO SAVARESE – AP News

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