Despite his precocious talents and the fact that he led his country to a World Cup triumph on no fewer than three occasions, Pele is not as popular as he probably should be in his home nation.
And his decision to snub an offer from president Dilma Rousseff to take part in Friday’s World Cup draw is unlikely to increase that popularity.
However, Pele’s motives for turning down the invitation are fully altruistic, as he does not want to be the man that draws his beloved country in a difficult group.
"President Dilma suggested that I represent Brazil when it came to pulling the balls out of the pots, which I've done several times before," Brazilian media quoted the former great Brazil striker as saying at an event in Sao Paulo.
"I preferred to turn down the offer because I wouldn't feel comfortable in picking out balls which are not favourable to Brazil."
Pele has earned a reputation in Brazil as a "pe-frio", literally "cold foot", with the suggestion that he brings bad luck to the Selecio.
Bizarrely, despite admitting that he would not be drawing the balls for fear of cursing the host nation, he reacted with hostile sarcasm when the notion that he was a "pe-frio” was put to him.
"I won five world titles, two with Santos and three with the national team and I scored more than one thousand goals, so you're right, I'm a cold foot," he said.
"I will be there, God willing," Pele added. "I will give interviews, accompany the delegations from abroad and do what is necessary, representing President Dilma."
Draw organisers said on Monday that Pele would make an appearance in some shape or form, adding that he would provide the "wow factor."