The case of Pele: Fans’ attitude toward legends

Thank you, Pele.
Thank you, Pele. Photo Credit:

The football world is beyond heartbroken following the death of the great Pele. Players, fans, and coaches have sent their condolences to the King of Football. 

Kylian Mbappe on Pele’s death
Erling Haaland on Pele’s death

The impact of Pele is without question. Before him, the number 10 was merely a number. He made that number special, where only the top players of each organization could be given the number 10. He shifted the football culture from the late 50s till the early 70s and moved it into the next chapter – an evolution. The fans loved him, wanted to see him play, and respected him. Well, at least the football fans of the mid-twentieth century did. The later generations have had some mixed feelings toward Pele.

Before and After

Pele and Maradona
Pele and Maradona. Photo Credit: The Sun

Before the passing of Pele, many football fans spent their time criticizing and downsizing the contribution of the legend. For years, memes and hypocritical comments have called Pele overrated and that he played in a “no-skill generation” against “plumbers and mechanics.” They didn’t even consider how Pele shifted that generation for the better before calling him overrated. And now, these “fans” just started respecting Pele for what he did to football AFTER he died.

A year ago, when Maradona passed away, the same thing happened. The Argentinian received uncountable banters about his drug usage and addiction. The once brilliant and genius Diego Armando Maradona was forgotten. Instead, he was remembered as a drug addict. But then, everything changed after his death. People started honoring him as the Argentinian God and regarded him for his footballing achievement.

This is a typical and hypocritical action by many football fans. They flat-out disrespected legends and disregarded their contributions for the better of the sports they love. 

Not just football…

Bill Russell and Pele shared similarities
Bill Russell and Pele shared similarities. Photo Credit: The Japan Times

This type of disrespectful behavior is not peculiar to just football. Pele had a lot of resemblance to the late Bill Russell of basketball. Both were the pioneers of their respective sports, setting the records for championships won. They were both called overrated or the way their generation is looked down on for the “lack of skills” compared to today’s generation. Their evolutionary playstyles were no longer in the minds of the young fans, instead banters after banters. 

Football, and basketball alike, is an evolutionary sport. With better medications and nutrition, players are getting better and stronger. In the next century, we will witness someone possessing a supernatural skillset far superior to today’s football. Then, would we call Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, or Neymar overrated? Such an unfair judgment.

Cherish it

In the past couple of years, the football world had to say farewell to many legends: Gerd Muller, Diego Maradona, and Pele. The vicious cycle of life waits for no one. We should cherish their achievements and contributions to the beautiful game before it’s too late.

Yes, banters are an undeniable part of sports. Don’t stop the banters. But differentiate them from disrespectful acts.

Thank you, Pele. Thank you, the legends of the game. May you rest in peace!

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