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Football | Brazil

Pele © Reuters Images

Pele statue to be unveiled at Maracana



A life-size, bronze statue honoring Brazilian football legend Pele is to be unveiled in June for the reopening of Rio's renovated, iconic Maracana stadium.

Renowned Brazilian sculptor Ique is currently putting the finishing touches to the 300-kilogram (660 pound) statue, based on photographs of a goal Pele scored in Brazil's 4-1 win against Czechoslovakia during the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

"It is a difficult work as it is the moment when Pele jumps and pumps his fist into the air to celebrate his goal," the sculptor, who worked for 30 years as caricaturist for the Rio-based Jornal do Brasil, told AFP.

The statue was modeled in several parts in plastiline "which does not dry like clay and can be handled more easily although it costs 10 times more in Brazil," Ique, whose real name is Victor Henrique Woitschach, explained.

It will be erected inside the renovated, 79 000-seat Maracana arena and will be inaugurated on June 2 during a Brazil-England friendly game a few days before the opening of the Confederations Cup, a dress reheasal for the 2014 World Cup.

The 72-ear-old Pele has not yet seen the statue.

"It is not quite Pele. It is my interpretation of Pele when he scored the goal. I do what I call 'carisculpture" because I specialize in caricatures, anatomy, the movement...The expression which accentates his smile come from caricature," Ique said.

"My dream was to make a sculpture of a celebrity. To make Pele at the Maracana, a year before the World Cup in Brazil is a dream come true," he added.

The modeling took two days and the the process of making the statue 45 days.

Ique also designed the statue of the late Michael Jackson which stands in a favela of Rio's Botafogo district and was inaugurated in June 2010.

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