Thursday 11 May 2017, 09:04

Pele’s golden gaze

  • Pele, then 17, photographed with the Trophy he won for the first time in 1958

  • He would triumph again in 1962 and 1970, setting a tournament record

  • Father’s tears following 1950 Final loss led to an unlikely promise being fulfilled

Pele was just nine years old when Brazil lost the 1950 FIFA World Cup™ Final to Uruguay.

“It was the first time I ever saw my father cry, and all because of that defeat,” he told in 2014. “I remember saying to him: ‘Don’t cry, Papa. I’ll win the World Cup for you.’”

It was, Pele later admitted, a spontaneous and futile attempt at raising his father’s spirits. “I just came out with it because I didn’t know what else to say,” he reflected.

Yet eight years later, there he was - a little boy transformed into a prodigious 17-year-old Seleção star - about to fulfil that promise. He did so in style too, bagging a brilliant brace – his fifth and sixth goals of the tournament – in an emphatic 5-2 win over hosts Sweden.

Even the Swedish players were in awe. “After the fifth goal I didn’t want to mark Pele any more. I wanted to applaud him,” said midfielder Sigge Parling.

The youngster himself, having secured the Trophy that had - largely as a result of that 1950 Maracanazo - become an obsession, was “overcome with emotion”.

“My first thoughts were about my family,” Pele wrote in his autobiography. “Did they know that we were champions? I wanted to speak to my parents but there were no telephones, so I kept on saying, ‘I've got to tell my dad, I've got to tell my dad.’

“I only managed to speak to him in the following days, using an international radio. I can remember saying things like: ‘Did you see me with the Swedish king? Over,’ and "I shook the king's hand. Over.’ ”

His father had seen and marvelled at it all. The impact it had only became apparent when the pair were reunited. As Pele recalled: “I saw my father cry again... this time with happiness."

Did you know?

This famous photograph, which captures Pele’s love affair with a Trophy he won three times, features prominently in one of the FIFA Football Museum’s most prominent exhibits.