The passage of time does wonderful things to the mind, and it’s amazing how much detail is forgotten the older we get.
That has to be the only reason why Pele still hasn’t been handed the title of the best ever player, unequivocally, in some quarters.
The perennial argument which nowadays centres around Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo was once the exclusive preserve of Pele and Diego Maradona.
Many of the points of contention back then are the same as which are being bandied around today.
There are certainly valid enough points for each to join the conversation.
Maradona’s time at Napoli and at World Cup 86, Messi’s multiple collective and individual trophies not to mention his numbers, and Ronaldo’s sheer will to consistently battle against the odds and drag his team-mates along with him deserve more than a cursory mention.
However, none can compare with the trail-blazing, three-time World Cup-winning Brazilian.
One has to remember the era and therefore the context in which Pele was playing.
Pitches weren’t anything like the billiard tables of today, and yet he had the lightest of touches when required.
He could head, dribble, pass and score, all with equal aplomb, and was the original ‘best ever’ player which has to count for something.
On this, his 80th birthday, it’s time Pele was given the respect he deserves.