Football King Pele is set to revisit Kolkata, where he turned out as a player for New York Cosmos 38 years back, next month and have a tryst with cricketing great Sourav Ganguly, said a media release issued by the Brazilian’s agent on Monday.
With the Samba magician slated to watch Indian Super League side Atletico de Kolkata’s first home match against Kerala Blasters FC on October 13 at the Salt Lake stadium, a meeting with cricketing Alegend Sachin Tendulkar is also likely. While Ganguly is the co-owner of ATK, Tendulkar co-owns the Kerala franchise.
Pele’s global agent Legends 10 said in the release that he will kickstart a weeklong (October 11-17) trip to India from Kolkata, where he played an exhibition tie at the Eden Gardens on a slushy September 24, 1977 afternoon against Mohun Bagan. The city giants had made the nation proud by holding the star-studded Cosmos to a 2-2 draw.
“Excited to come to India. It is such an honour for me. India is a very special country and I have good memories from my time there many years ago, the fans were fantastic.”
“India is a very passionate football nation, and I look forward to meeting a whole new generation of fans while continuing to spread the overwhelming love that I have for this beautiful game,” said Pele, who would spend three days in Kolkata.
While in Kolkata, he will meet students and educators from NSHM Knowledge Campus, participate in a conversation with Ganguly as well as attend a gala dinner, which will include a charity sports memorabilia auction.
After Pele’s 1977 visit, the city has hosted a clutch of soccer geniuses over the years.
Apart from former Netherlands skipper Ruud Gullit, legendary footballers like Diego Maradona, Lothar Matthaus, Oliver Kahn, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Gerd Muller, Romario and Branco have mesmerised the city with their presence.
Though they mostly came much after their retirement, Uruguayan soccer star Diego Forlan made a trip to participate in a soccer talent hunt show, just weeks after becoming the golden ball winner in the 2010 World Cup.
Brazilian star Zico had come as the coach of Japan’s national side for a pre-World Cup game, while Cameroon’s Roger Milla – adjudged the best African player of the last century – played an exhibition match months after his sparkling performance at the 1990 World Cup.
Earlier, the city hosted the country’s first ever FIFA ‘friendly match’ when football sensation Lionell Messi led Argentina clashed against Venezuela at the Saltlake stadium.
The Argentines won the encounter courtesy a second-half header by Porto centre-half Nicolas Otamendi.