February 20, 2020 / 7:28 PM / 5 months ago

Brazil unveils Pele statue to mark 50th anniversary of 1970 triumph

Pele's statue unveiled on the 50th anniversary of the 1970 World Cup victory - CBF Headquarters, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - February 20, 2020 A fan takes a selfie with Pele's statue. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) unveiled a statue of Pele at its headquarters on Thursday, the first of a series of events to commemorate June’s 50th anniversary of the team’s third World Cup triumph.

Pele, who will be 80 in October and finds it difficult to walk, was not present at the ceremony in the CBF’s museum but had been given a preview of the statue which he declared “perfect”.

Jairzinho, Clodoaldo and Brito were among members of the 1970 team present at the ceremony, along with current Brazil coach Tite.

The 1970 Brazil side, led by Pele and featuring names such as Gerson, Tostao, Rivelino and Carlos Alberto, is frequently rated the greatest team of all time. They won all seven of their matches in Mexico, culminating with a 4-1 over Italy in the final at the Aztec stadium.

The life-size statue of Pele, dressed in the strip worn by the 1970 team, bore a close resemblance to the former Santos and New York Cosmos striker, unlike many of the statues of famous footballers unveiled recently around the globe.

Statues of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Northern Ireland’s George Best have been ridiculed by fans while one of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Malmo was vandalised by Malmo fans after the Swede acquired a stake in rival club Hammarby.

Writing by Andrew Downie in London, editing by Ed Osmond

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