The daughter of Pele, the late footballing legend, has shared an insight into her father’s love for the game and why he wanted Lionel Messi and Argentina to win the 2022 World Cup.
Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram about how her father, who passed away at the age of 82 in December 2022, wanted Argentina to win the tournament for Messi after Brazil’s elimination in the quarter-final by Croatia.
After bumping into Messi’s wife, Antonella Roccuzzo, Nascimento passed on a message to Messi through her, writing: “By the time Brazil lost against Croatia my dad was getting a lot worse. Everybody wanted Brazil to win this cup for my dad, nobody more than the national team!
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“But my father understood better than most what football is like. And it was really this possibility that any team could win that he always talked about that he loved about this beautiful game.”
Nascimento continued: “After the defeat of Brazil every person who entered that hospital room (all day and every day until the final!!!) said: ‘Hey Pele? Now who do you want? Of course Argentina NO!’ And he would say ‘Argentina yes!
“This cup has to stay in South America and Messi deserves it! Everyone was pretending (and sometimes not pretending) horror!!! HOW?! Argentina!!!? And he would simply say ‘yes, Messi deserves it’.”
Pele, who spent much of the World Cup in palliative care in Qatar surrounded by his family, did not get to watch the final on TV, but understood that Argentina had won and Messi had lifted the cup. “Long live football,” Nascimento wrote.