Brazil's failure to claim an Olympic soccer gold medal, the one major tournament they have never won, is all because Pele never played in the competition, the soccer great joked on Thursday.
Pele made his comments after receiving an Olympic award in his home town of Santos, pointing out that although Brazil had won the World Cup five times and the Copa America on eight occasions, they never won Olympic gold because he was absent.
"I was joking with my friends saying that Brazil never won an award, because I never played," the 75-year-old three-time World Cup winner told reporters.
"I joke with my friends, because we really never had a title and this was a chance God gave to me in receiving this honour. Let's hope and think positively, that maybe we can take an Olympic title, and once again, for all those who have been part of my story."
Pele also hailed new national coach Tite as a "reliable" pair of hands for the demoralized national team.
Tite, 55, was named coach on Wednesday after ex-coach Dunga was fired for Brazil's humiliating group-stage exit from the Copa America Centenario tournament.
Pele was succinct in his assessment of the new coach on Thursday.
"Tite is reliable," Pele, 75, told reporters.
He defended the outgoing coach.
"Dunga is not at all to blame because he did not have time to put together a team," he said.
"The team lost. That happens in football."
Pele was given the Olympic order, the highest award offered by the International Olympics Committee (IOC), by its president Thomas Bach.
Bach is in Brazil to monitor preparations for South America's first Olympic Games that begin in Rio de Janeiro on August 5.
Image: Brazil's new coach Adenor Leonardo Bachi or Tite
Photograph: Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images