Before the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, once upon a time, Edson Arantes do Nascimento aka Pele was the most famous player in the world. Alongside Muhammad Ali, he transcended sport to be a world cultural icon.
The Brazilian maestro has had two notable brushes with Aston Villa. He was the guest of honour at Highbury the day Aston Villa won the league title in 1981 and on February 21st 1972, he got to play at Villa Park in front of a crowd of 54,437.
Pele’s only game at Villa Park was a friendly between his Santos team and Villa (then in Division 3), with the home team winning 2-1 in a game that made the headlines even before a ball was kicked.
In a period of electricity rationing, Villa had purchased a £5,000 generator to power the floodlights (although there was only enough power to get three out of four working), and then there was the matter of Santos haggling for an increased match fee with the threat of withdrawing Pele, if Villa didn’t cough up.
About 10-years-go, before MOMS existed, I got to interview Pele at the Cannes Film Festival. Pele was in town promoting ‘Pele Forever’, a documentary film he’d commissioned on his life and it was a nice change to interview him on top of the stable directors and actors I’d interview at the festival.
Pele had been to the film festival in the south of France a couple of times before, most notably for Escape to Victory, starring a young Sylvester Stallone (and the likes of Ipswich’s John Wark and Russell Osman), but as Pele said, at the time, this was the first time he had come to talk about his life.
Having already published the Pele interview in written form on the website, having recently found the actual recording itself, it was a chance to put it out as a bonus podcast show just for curiosity value.
Listen to the MOMS Pele Interview show:
To mark the occasion of meeting the footballing legend, I wore my Zico T-shirt. Zico was nicknamed the ‘White Pele’ and was a prime mover in one of my favourite ever teams, the other great team of 1982 – the Brazil World Cup team.
Pele, the godfather of Brazilian football in the 1960’s and 1970’s, didn’t disappoint when we met poolside in the garden of a small hotel in Cannes.
As well as discussing Pele’s career, which English team he came closest to signing for and what rules he’d want changing in the game, the interview includes the story of the 28-year-old girl that came out of nowhere claiming to be Pele’s daughter. Pele also claims in the interview to have discovered Michael Owen!
Also, in the show is an intro where we mention his time at New York Cosmos and what players used Ketchup bottles for!
PS – If you have any any issues understanding any of the interview due to Pele’s accent, check out the interview transcript.
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The Pele Interview podcast features:
David Michael – @oldmansaid
Dan Rodgers – @avfc_vilr
My Old Man Said – https://myoldmansaid.com
Villa Underground – http://www.villaunderground.com
Producer – David Michael