Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola likened the legacy left behind by Pele to the script of a movie on Friday, saying football would not be what it was without the Brazilian soccer legend.
Pele, a prolific goalscorer who won the World Cup an unprecedented three times as a player in 1958, 1962 and 1970, died on Thursday aged 82 after a long battle with cancer.
“On behalf of Manchester City, biggest condolences to his family. Football is football thanks to these types of people, players and human beings,” Guardiola told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against Everton.
“I think Neymar said it. Before the number 10 was just a number and after it became something special, every top player wants to wear it for their team. What he has done for football is there and always will remain.
“He didn’t just win three World Cups, it was a new thing when he came up. I was not born when he was playing but it’s like a good movie, no? The legacy after many years is still there.”
Guardiola added that Pele had the potential to be successful in any era of the sport.
“When I was in the academy at Barcelona, I had a physiotherapist who was in love with Brazil and Pele. And after when I was nine or ten, I started to watch some clips,” Guardiola said.
“Now I realise he was so strong and could do everything. People say that rhythm was completely different. These type of players, if he was playing now, he would adapt to the rhythm and the pace.
“He was so intuitive and in skills and mentality, he could play in every generation. Everyone has their own greatest.”
Turning his attention to City’s clash against Everton, Guardiola called on his players to stay sharp and maintain the same level of intensity they displayed in wins over Leeds United and Liverpool in recent weeks.
City returned to action following the World Cup break with a 3-2 win over rivals Liverpool in the League Cup, before a 3-1 defeat of Leeds on Wednesday.
“The last two games against Liverpool and Leeds were so demanding, high intensity, we handled it really well,” Guardiola said.
“I don’t know what Everton will do, sometimes they press high but not last season. We have to know the transitions, starting from Jordan Pickford. The quality is there, they have exceptional players.”
“In this period, everyone’s thinking of New Year’s Eve, the distraction can be a problem. Two days after Leeds, we have to be ready.”
Guardiola added that Argentina forward Julian Alvarez, who played in the World Cup final win over France, would return to training after New Year’s Eve.
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