Inside Life: Pele, Brazilian Icon, is a king in Times Square

Pele kicks a soccer ball.
File photo

Of all the year-end stories to transcend any particular genre, the standout 2022 wrap-up headlines the deaths of two monarchs – Britain’s crowned Queen Elizabeth II and Brazil’s acclaimed King of soccer, Edson Arantes do Nascimento who the world affectionately embraced, Pele. 

The former, manifested in an almost fairy-tale coronation at the age of 25, survived 70 years as the longest British monarch to rule her kingdom. Throughout her reign her majesty exhibited the luxurious lifestyle afforded the lofty position she inherited when her father King George VI died. Contrast with that, the emergence of a global iconic athlete who rose from humble beginnings to represent a nation not usually identified by people of color. Pele played 12 World Cup competitions, 1,363 games, won 37 titles, scored 1,281 goals, and became the first player of the sport to score 1,0000 goals.

His number 10 jersey has become associated with the world’s best Diego Maradona, Roberto Baggio, Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi.

Needless to say, he gained the attention of the European royal. In 1997, she knighted the Portuguese superstar dubbing him Sir. Edson Arantes do Nascimento. 

One did not have to understand the intricacies of his beloved “beautiful game” to comprehend Pele’s reputation as a global and iconic hero.

His nickname alone defined the global impact he made on a world community.     

Pele died on Dec. 29, 2022 marking a red letter day in history for the world’s greatest soccer player. 

He died at age 82.

Reportedly, the revered athlete succumbed from complications from colon cancer and Covid-19.

According to press reports, the official medical reason given for his death was organ failure.

Needless to say, his association with Santos Football Club, gifted two decades of dominance of the sport that made him a global ambassador of the game. Some described his bossanova movements, his samba like maneuvers which began at age 17 and first displayed at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. 

He was the youngest player ever to play in the tournament and on that occasion scored two goals resulting with his teams’ 5-2 victory.

The teenager was carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates.

From then, Pele reliably repeated his mettle. 

He championed Brazil to three World Cup competitions.

Pele to Brazil, is Bob Marley to Jamaica’s reggae music, Muhammad Ali to America’s Civil Rights Movement and Nelson Mandela to apartheid in South Africa.

He was the eponymous number 10.

However, in the hearts and minds of admirers he was the unrivaled number one of soccer/football. 

Since his departure, nostalgic references of Jamaican football/soccer stars Allan “Skill” Cole and Winston Earle have been making the rounds on social media platforms. 

Earle’s classic contest 53 years ago in Baltimore, Baltimore when his team played against the touring Santos Club is now a viral keepsake. Reportedly, Earle recently retired from a 30-year stint as assistant coach at John Hopkins University.

Pele was named an ambassador for United Nations and UNESCO. He earned notoriety as a role model who approached a game with a purpose that conquered all boundaries. 

Despite obstacles of class and race he emerged a global hero.

On hearing news of his transition fans flocked to the 1560 Broadway location of his Pele Soccer Store New York Times Square Store. Many stocked up on merchandize particularly shirts bearing the number 10. 


On New Year’s Eve, some churches invited their congregations to burn away the spoils of 2022 by writing the issues they confronted and placing the notations in cauldrons provided for a bonfire.

In addition, many expressed disdain for the year in Times Square by etching disfavor with the outgoing year on notes they placed in ovens that flamed at the crossroads of the world at 42nd Street.

Both symbolic activities expressed the grief and disappointment many felt in the year 2022.

Though there were losses of great magnitude that affected millions, it seems the monarchs will remain immortal for leading their countries to the peak of greatness. 

On Pele’s passing, the headlines to a front page obituary in the Jamaica Observer read “the King Is Dead.”

Regarded there by sports aficionados throughout the island, the passing of the 82-year-old resonated with sadness they emoted for their own legend and revered reggae king, Bob Marley.

Pele’s passing was no less a gut-punch at the end of the year as when the world stopped to pay respects to Muhammad Ali who championed boxing and Civil Rights for America or when the world paused to regale the lifelong contribution Nelson Mandela made to a movement for equity and justice in his homeland South Africa. 

Although dying is inevitable, regardless of age, all deaths seem to consume the living who grieve the loss of an individual.

Perhaps the deaths of celebrated individual unite masses in sorrow—among those who departed in 2022 the most celebrated include Sir Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson the acclaimed Queen of Stage, journalism queen, Barbara Walters, Bob and Rtia Marley’s 31-year-old grandson Joseph “Jo Mersa” Marley and Pope Benedict XVI, the first in 600 years to abdicate the highest position of head of the Roman Catholic Church.

While we lament the transitions of iconic figures, we must also acknowledge the multitudes of average citizens who are no longer among the living. They too are deserving of an epitaph. 

Those who succumbed from wars, crime, natural disasters, domestic violence, health impediments and unknown circumstances are especially recalled with memories of favor. Covid-19 continues to claim more than a few. 

Its variants, influenza and viruses continues to wreak havoc on the infirmed. 

To those we lost, their absence leaves a void that can never be replaced. Accepting that their brief presence enhanced the lives they encountered somehow enables an opportunity to look forward with optimism and hope that better will come.

Good riddance to 2022, a year fraught with sadness, disfavor, corruption, strife and grief. Good news is already here with improved health updates for Merritones’ music. mogul Monte Blake, Third World founder Stephen “Cat” Coore, Big Ship Captain Freddie McGregor and many other recovering individuals. 

That they survived a thieving year of tragedies must rest with prayers and good wishes that you showered. 

We pray continued healing of the nations, survival of the fittest and improved conditions for all. A happy and healthy New Year.


Catch You On The Inside!