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Pele statue unveiled to mark 50th anniversary of World Cup triumph

Pele was not present at the unveiling but sent his approval of the statue.

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) unveiled a statue of Pele at its headquarters on Thursday, the first of a series of events to commemorate the 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 Brazil coach Tite. 

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

The 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.

Many of Pele's recent appearances have been in a wheelchair as his health has slowly deteriorated.

His son Edinho said in an interview in February that the Brazil legend is depressed over his poor health and reluctant to leave the house because he cannot walk unaided. 

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