The daughter of the late Pele has revealed that the footballing legend wanted bitter rivals Argentina to win the 2022 World Cup for Lionel Messi after Brazil’s elimination.
After a battle with cancer, Pele passed away at the age of 82 on December 29 2022, 11 days after the World Cup final.
He spent much of the tournament in Qatar in palliative care and surrounded by family.
Pele’s beloved Brazil were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by Croatia on penalties, missing out on a South American showdown with Argentina.
His daughter, Kely Nascimento, shared a story about her father on Instagram after bumping into Messi’s wife, Antonela Roccuzzo.
Nascimento wrote: “Story time: This is the very beautiful and graceful Antonela Roccuzzo, Messi’s wife.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Messi so when I met her in that magical place of every party (the ladies’ room) I passed him a message through her.
“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!
“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.
“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’.
“He wasn’t getting to watch TV in the final anymore, but he understood that Argentina won and Messi got to lift the cup, and he was happy.
“Long live football.”