Pelè was a fantastic ambassador for football, not only as a player, winning three World Cup’s in four attempts, but also long after his life on the field, doing so much for the game in his own special way.
Looking at Pelè’s presence with a bit of Leicester light, will give us the belief that he was special also in that perspective. A certain Gordon Banks playing a big part, but also other Leicester men being mentioned.
We all remember Pelè’s fantastic header from the 1970 World Cup, when Gordon Banks, made his special save. At that time Banks did play for Stoke, but as we all know he had his years at Leicester from 1959 to 1967.
Gordon Banks and Pelè had played each other before that special happening in 1970. On the 12th of June 1969, in an international friendly between Brazil and England at Maracana, Rio De Janeiro. Brazil won, 2-1, Pelè did not score on this occassion, with the goals coming from Tostao and Jairzinho. On the 22nd of September 1969 they were also up against each other. Santos and Pelè were on a tour of Europe, as they were frequently during the 60’s and 70’s, attracting massive crowds and publicity, this time visitng Stoke and Victoria Ground. A grand happening, as Pelè scored twice, seeing Santos as 3-2 winners.
Gordon Banks and Pelè had probably never believed they would play each other again, when the two came out of retirement to take on the NASL. Pelè playing for New York Cosmos and Gordon Banks representing Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Seven years after that special save in Mexico, the two were up against each other again. Pelè at 37 years of age, Gordon Banks had turned 39. Both had made sensational returns to the game for their NASL clubs. This time though Pelè got the last say as he scored all three goals in the New York Cosmos 3-0 win.
Frank Sinclair never played against Pelè, but he was thrilled to have met him. Pelè was in the audience when Chelsea in 1997 won the FA Cup. What a special moment for Frank, who later played for Leicester, being signed by Martin O’Neill in 1998.
Pelè did play Chelsea in a friendly back in 1971, David Webb and Keith Weller were both in the blues line-up on that special day. The game ended in a 1-0 win for Santos.
Gordon Milne, manager of Leicester from 1982 to 1986, did coach a team in a game vs. Pelè. He was in charge of Coventry, when they played Santos in Thailand, back in 1972. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Wille Bell of Leeds and later Leicester, made an apperance vs. Pelè. He was in the Scotland line-up for the 1-1 friendly at Hampden Park in June 1966, as the memorable game ended in a 1-1 draw in front of a crowd of 74,933.
Pelè visited Villa Park in 1972, Andy Lochhead was in the Aston Villa line-up, as well as Ray Graydon. Lochead played for Leicester before his days with Villa, Graydon an assistant manager during the days of Rob Kelly. Graydon had a big day alongside Lochhead, scoring the 2-1 winning goal from the penalty spot. A few other fun facts from that game. Jack Taylor, later a World Cup final referee of the 1974 final, was the one in charge, Charlie Aitken who had the assist on the opening goal that evening, played alongside Pelè at New York Cosmos a few years later.
Santos also played Sheffield Wednesday in 1972, Peter Rodrigues was on the field for The Owls, playing in front of a packed Hillsborough. The game ended in a 2-0 win for Santos, but still probably one fantastic and memorable moment for the prominent full back, being at Leicester from 1965 to 1970.
Also to mention, Brian Deane. He had the pleasure of meeting Pelè during his visit in Sheffield a few years back.
This makes up our list of special Leicester relations and the legendary Pelè, RIP!
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