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Pele: Brazil coach Tite doing well with modern challenges of global squad

Pele has backed Brazil coach Tite while agreeing that the Selecao manager's job is much more difficult today then it was in his day, in an interview with ESPN Brasil.

Tite this week announced a 25-man squad for this month's friendlies against Russia and Germany that features players from 18 different clubs in eight countries.

And Pele, the 77-year-old Brazil great and three-time World Cup winner, said Tite made him understand the challenges that come with leading Brazil with a squad spread out across the world.

"I don't want to say that I was the one that supported him the most, and it's not because I wasn't sure of what he could accomplish," Pele told ESPN. "No one can say for a fact what is going to happen but God, only God knows what is going to happen in the future.

"But Tite, whenever I've been with him or talked to him, I could feel he is a serious person, with a lot of character. He always talked with confidence -- he could even make mistakes, as no one is perfect -- but he said something that really made sense to me about our national team in the '70s and the '80s.

"Tite said: 'Pele, if I have the opportunity to become coach of the Brazilian national team, and stay there for a while, I want to build a team that will be able to compete for two or three years, so everyone can understand each other.'

"Furthermore, in a fun tone, he said: 'Unfortunately I can't build a team like the ones you were part of. Back in your day, the best players of Brazil didn't leave the country to play overseas. Only a few players went on to play abroad. Even you, during your 25-year career, played all those years in Brazil. You only left at the very end of your career, when you played for Cosmos.

"'To manage the national team at that time was easy. The players were excellent, so it was easier. To build the national team in our modern age, I need scouts everywhere. Three, four Brazilian players are playing in each part of the world. It is harder now, but I want to build a team that can be steady.'

"And I liked a lot what he had to say. I pray to God that he can accomplish his goals."

Pele appeared at a World Economic Forum event in Sao Paulo this week using a walker, but later said his mobility is slowly returning following a second hip surgery.

"I am well, but I cannot assure that I will play in the World Cup in Russia," Pele joked at the event. "My movements are starting to come back, it is great."

Pele was handed an award for his career at the event but had to remain seated throughout the presentation. Upon his arrival with the walker, Pele said it was his "new car."

Spokesman Pepito Fornos told The Associated Press that Pele is still planning to attend this year's World Cup, though he has reduced his schedule to do more physiotherapy.


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