Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book Review - Pelé - The Autobiography

Last book review for 2011. I promise.

Can't say that I saw Pelé in action but I know of him as the most famous soccer (football) player in history. And he's remained in the spotlight long after his career on the pitch came to a close. Just had to grab his autobiography for the $4 it was listed for at the Save The Children Fund Book Fair.

What a fabulous read. Pelé certainly led a charmed life. He could have fallen out of a train window when a youngster but his dad pulled him back in. He almost drowned and had to be saved from a river by a stranger. It's heartening to hear of all the struggles that he endured as a child playing soccer in the street with the local boys with newspaper wrapped in a sock for a ball, trouble to organise a team with kit enough for all players and the financial difficulties for the family.

I guess the story was always going to be heartwarming as we well know that he turned out to be a superstar and would always have a great story to tell. But the way his life story is told is compelling. I read this book in a period of two days whilst on holiday and even didn't turn the computer on when I returned so that I could finish it.

For a man that achieved so much he doesn't come across as conceited but I did get the impression that it was perhaps a little sugarcoated. He mentions almost nothing of his two legitimate daughters and finally makes mention of one daughter born to a woman who was not his girlfriend (later his first wife) and then another daughter that was born whilst he was married. His first son, from his first marriage, finally became a professional footballer, as goalkeeper, but got involved with the wrong crowd and spent time in jail. At the time of writing he was still incarcerated. You can feel a father's pain but it also seems to be written as though Pelé is trying to maintain his image.

But, what a life he has led. Even if you've never seen footage of him playing the beautiful game, joga bonito, a phrase which Pelé coined apparently [not, according to Wikipedia], but you are a fan of the game you should read this book. It is a marvellous story of one human being who is truly hard to define.


- Fear of life is fear of the worst kind (a reference to not being able to provide food for the family).
- Happy is the child who can play out in the street.
- Some people have suggested that I was able to see more than other players because my eyes are further apart than normal. That's not true but I did end up doing tests and I do have very good peripheral vision.
- Determination brings success.
- There are few true friends in the world without any self-interest.
- People who are idolised mustn't disappoint their public - we wouldn't be half of what we are without them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Mitch