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Brazil to celebrate national ‘King Pelé Day’ on November 19 to pay tribute to soccer great

Brazil will celebrate a national “King Pelé Day” on Nov. 19 every year, marking the date the soccer great scored what he considered to be the 1,000th goal of his career in 1969.

The Brazilian government’s official publication said Tuesday that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had passed a law sanctioning the national tribute to the three-time World Cup winner. The Brazilian soccer great died on Dec. 29, 2022, at the age of 82.

The date picked for the festivities is a reference to the day Pelé scored Santos’ winner from the penalty spot in a 2-1 win against Vasco da Gama at the Maracana Stadium in 1969 — although some soccer historians question whether that actually was the 1,000th goal of his career.

Pelé used the celebrations for that goal to make a rare somewhat political speech, in which he told reporters on the pitch that Brazil should take better care of its children. The South American nation was then under a military dictatorship that started in 1964 and only ended in 1985.

“This is an acknowledgment that is more than deserved for one of the most important and influential people not only in Brazilian soccer, but in world sports,” said Sen. Jorge Kajuru, a former sports reporter and one of the sponsors of the bill in Congress.

Last week, Pelé’s mother Celeste Arantes died at the age of 101.

Credit: AP

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