Pele Exclusive: On Messi, Ronaldo, Playing for Barca and Brazil World Cup Glory

Will TideySenior Manager, GlobalApril 4, 2014


It's not every day you get exclusive access to a living football legend. That man is three-time World Cup winner Pele, and here's how he answered our questions on everything from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the current Barcelona team and—of course—Brazil's chances at this summer's World Cup


BLEACHER REPORT: Which current player most reminds you of Pele at his peak? Who do you see parts of yourself in?

PELE: Messi is the most similar football player to me as he's playing the same position and role I used to do at Santos.

B/R: Expectancy is huge for Brazil at the World Cup. Who will step forward as the team's leader this summer?

PELE: We need all our Brazil national team players and the entire organisation to be at their best this summer during the tournament. One star player does not make you win the World Cup. Most of all, we need the support of our whole country to make this a successful tournament and to help Brazil win its sixth trophy.

B/R: Which modern club team would you love to play for and why?

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 09:  (L to R) Danny Alves and Lionel Messi of Barcelona with Pele and Neymar of Santos during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2011 on January 9, 2012 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

PELE: I really like the way Barcelona is playing today. I would have definitely fit in this team with such nice players as Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and Neymar.

B/R: Do you think it's right that players like Messi and Ronaldo are already considered in the conversation for top five players of all time?

PELE: Messi and Ronaldo are definitely in the top five players right now. They are still young and eager to win their first World Cup trophy in their respective national team.


B/R: How do you think your career would have differed had you been born into the current generation, with lighter balls and more protection for attacking players?

PELE: Forwards are more protected now than they used to be when I played. During my time as a player, we did not have red or yellow cards. Nowadays, it is also much easier to know your opponents because of the media and the technology. I played in very different conditions back then and would have been an even better player if I had all the advanced improvements of today's game.

B/R: Finally, the obvious one. Will Brazil win the World Cup?

PELE: The World Cup is always full of surprises. As the biggest fan of the Selecao, I want Brazil to win, especially with the long history from 1950 when Brazil lost to Uruguay in the final at Maracana. I saw my father cry for the first time that day, and I don't want my son to see me cry!


Living sports legend Pelé is launching his very own mobile gaming app, Pelé: King of Football. The first-of-its-kind biographical game is free to download and features virtual players in 3D, in-game rewards, which can be used to gain power-ups, and access to "The Vault,” where they can view exclusive video highlights and original, never before seen interviews from Pele himself—