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Have three words ever encapsulated so perfectly all that is glorious – indeed, beautiful – about football?
It’s a phrase any of us would’ve wished to conceive, given its transcendental power - an unequivocally global message that translates effortlessly into every known language without losing its meaning; therefore, it’s only fitting that its origins are widely disputed.
There’s no doubt that Pelé popularised the term – his own personal nickname for the sport that gave him everything – in 1977, when he christened his autobiography My Life and the Beautiful Game; however, former English football commentator Stuart Hall lays claim to originating it in 1958 after watching Manchester City’s Peter Docherty light up the turf at Maine Road with his unique style of play.
Other pretenders to the crown include the Brazilian midfielder Didi – widely credited as being the first person ever to speak these immortal words – and English author and football fanatic H.E. Bates, who used the phrase in 1952 as part of a newspaper piece extolling the virtues of the game (‘Brains in the Feet’).
Regardless of who said it first, its iconic status in the footballing lexicon is firmly assured – a quote that will outlive us all, with its impact eternally preserved.
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