This day in history of Ronaldo
RIO DE JANEIRO, March 4 (Reuters) - Pele woke up to a barrage of criticism in his native Brazil on Thursday after a leaked version of his list of the 100 greatest living players said he had chosen more Italians and Frenchmen than Brazilians.
The unofficial version, published by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper on Wednesday and widely reproduced by other Brazilian media, said Pele had picked only 12 Brazilians compared to 14 each from Italy and France.
It also said he omitted Rivelino, his team mate in the 1970 World Cup team, and Nilton Santos, a left-back from the 1950s and 1960s whose outstanding technique earned him the nickname the Encyclopaedia of Football.
In the event, both were among 15 Brazilians, including Pele himself, in the official list of 125 players, announced by FIFA on Thursday. But the news, which dominated Brazilian sports pages for 24 hours, was too late to save Pele from the wrath of his former team mates.
Midfielder Gerson symbolically tore up a piece of paper purporting to be the list during a live television programme.
"Pele has the right to choose whoever he wants. But it's absurd to leave out team mates who carried him on their backs," said Gerson, who scored the second goal in Brazil's 4-1 win over Italy in the 1970 World Cup final.
Mario Zagallo, coach to the 1970 team, added: "I respect Pele, he was the world's greatest player, but this list leaves a lot to be desired."
"A lot of players who were champions alongside him have been relegated to the background."
Before discovering that he was included, Rivelino said: "I'm not upset. I know what I'm worth."
Pele was quick to distance himself from the unofficial version of the list.
Speaking at FIFA's centenary gala in London on Thursday he said: "I do not know where they got that list from, it was not yet complete.
"It was a mistake for them to reveal that list, we were still working on it."
Gerson, however, was unrepentant even after hearing the official version. "If he changed his mind again and included me, I wouldn't accept," he said.
By Brian Homewood