I am from a generation that never saw Pelé play during his prime. For me, O Rei was simply a magical tale. My father and grandfather, who did see him on the field, shared stories with me about the moments of rare beauty that Pelé displayed on the field. They told me about his visits to Mexico playing for Santos. They even told me about the time when he stopped a war: Nigeria and Biafra came to a cease-fire just to watch him play.
But for them, like for the rest of the world, the most mythic game of all was at the 1970 World Cup. To this day, the final in Mexico remains one of soccer’s highest points–a moment when sport became art. In books and anecdotes, it is generally accepted that Brazil’s road to claiming the Jules Rimet trophy that year was a tremendous feat, something that has never been repeated.
At Remezcla, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Pelé himself, who took us on a trip down memory lane remembering that game at the imposing Azteca Stadium. It was his final World Cup milestone, as he would go on to retire afterwards, a three-time champion of soccer’s highest tournament.
Though it’s been forty seven years since that glorious moment, O Rei animatedly waves his arms with excitement while explaining each exquisite movement performed by the legendary Seleçao on that June day in Mexico’s capital. He walks us through the nervousness from the night before, and what it was like to feel the greatest victory over Italy. The defeated team exemplified pragmatic soccer, everything that was the exact opposite of the triumphant Brazilian style, the “joga bonito.”
As part of their preparation for the games, the Brazilian team participated in a training program with NASA. For many in Brazil, their win was comparable to a South American moon landing, a global accomplishment that brought pride to the region.
Just like when Neil Armstrong took his first weightless step on the moon, Brazil’s domination of the field that day was an otherworldly experience broadcast live on color TV across the globe. We retell it for you here, in Pelé’s own words, in an animated video made by Remezcla for our series El partido de mi vida. Even if we’ll never get to watch O Rei play in person again, we can all experience that glorious day, half a century ago, where Brazil’s legends achieved soccer nirvana.
Interview / Story: Raúl Vilchis
Art Direction: Alicia Martin Lopez
Rotoscope Animation: Stefan Prodanovic
Sound Design: Santiago Solórzano
Director / Editor / Compositor: Rodrigo Olivar
Creative Producer: Francisco Outon
Producer: Lia Camille Crockett
Production Assistant: Itzel Alejandra Martinez