“I am the one and only!” – Pele

Pele and Boria Majumdar
Pele and Boria Majumdar (Source: Boria Majumdar)

They remain fond memories. Multiple conversations with King Pele spread over days during his visit to Kolkata in 2015. While some were formal interviews, others were conversations on the fly as we travelled all over the city. So today, on his first death anniversary, I checked my notes and put together some of the best answers that Pele had given in the course of our numerous conversations.

Boria: Almost everyone considers you to be the greatest. The King. Can there be a second Pele? Who comes closest to Pele?

Pele: Listen, everywhere I go to, people say X or Y is the new Pele. So, when I go to Argentina, people say Maradona is the new Pele. In England, people say George Best is the new Pele and comes closest to Pele. In Germany, people consider Beckenbauer to be the new Pele. In Holland, Cruyff is the new Pele. Every place you go to, there is always a new Pele. That’s why I tell people that listen my mother and father have closed the machine and there can no longer be a Pele! I am the one and only.

Boria: You have won three World Cups. In Sweden, you were just 17. Tell me about it. How was it when you got selected for the national team?

Pele: You are absolutely right. I was just 17 when I went to Sweden. When I was selected for the national team, I was first told about it by a few of my friends. When they said this to me, I did not believe them. I thought they must be joking. That’s why I went home and asked my father if what they were saying was true. Father said to me that Brazil had picked five young players and I was indeed one of them. I immediately told him that I did not speak Swedish, so how would I manage in Sweden! Father said to me I did not need to know Swedish to go to Sweden. That’s how naïve I was. However, if you ask me which was the most difficult World Cup to win, I will say 1970. In the first World Cup in 1958, there was no pressure. No one really thought I was the one to look out for. Whatever I did, I was able to do without pressure. 1970 was different because everyone was looking out for me. It was very difficult. That’s why winning the 1970 World Cup gave me maximum satisfaction.

Boria: You had travelled to Kolkata in 1977 with Cosmos. What are your memories from that visit?

Pele: I have very fond memories from the tour for two reasons. Very few places I have seen this level of passion. I remember when we were landing, we looked from the aircraft window and all we could see was a sea of human beings. I was scared. I thought what was going on here. Little did we know all of them had come to receive us. The craze for football in this city was just mind blowing. Second, when we played, the crowd was fantastic. It was a wet pitch but the euphoria of the people was a sight to see. They wanted to see me play and the love was tremendous. I have to say the kind of affection I received from this city was very special.

For the Latest Sports News: Click Here


Boria: When do you think an African or Asian team can win the World Cup? What does it take to win for any of these teams?

Pele: Look, winning the World Cup is not easy. Take the case of Brazil. We have won 5 World Cups. But when it comes to our home World Cups, we have lost. In 1950, we lost the final to Uruguay. I remember my father crying after we lost. Again in 2014, the World Cup was played in Brazil and we lost 1-7. So it is difficult to say really. Having said that, what you really need to create a World Cup-winning team is a top-quality league, and you must get your players to play against the other best players in the world. They need to experience that so they don’t feel overawed and feel the pressure. For new players to do well, a good domestic league and playing experience in other parts of the world is very important.

Boria: You have already said to me there can’t be a second Pele. But can you tell me who are the other players who you would pay money to go and watch?

Pele: Every generation has some very good players. In my time, there was Garrincha and Didi. Then, there was Beckenbauer. And Johan Cruyff. In Brazil, in the 1980s, Zico and Socrates were very good players, not to forget Maradona. In more recent times, you can add Ronaldo and Romario to the list. And at this point, one has to mention Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Each of them are very good footballers and I have enjoyed watching them.

Boria: Finally, what’s your fondest memory?

Pele: I have to say winning the 1970 World Cup. That was the best footballing memory for me.

Pele and Boria Majumdar
Pele and Boria Majumdar (Source: Boria Majumdar)

Also Read: Shastri-Arun coaching combo was much better than Dravid-Mhambrey for India

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *