Pele first landed in India at Calcutta (Kolkata) on September 24, 1977.
Kolkata: One of the greatest sportspersons on this planet, Pele, passed away, but his memory is eternal. People across the world will always remember him for his astonishing play. Every verb in his praise looks small in front of Pele’s greatness.
India is not a powerhouse in football, but people keep an eye on every footballing activity. Pele first landed in India at Calcutta (Kolkata) on September 24, 1977. It was a festive moment for football fans in Kolkata, as Pele was in the city with a star-studded New York Cosmos team.
To see the magic of Pele 80,000 fans thronged to Eden Gardens to see one of the greatest of all sports Pele in action on September 25, 1977.
Pele’s team took on Mohun Bagan in a friendly encounter. Before arriving at the stadium, thousands had gathered outside his hotel to glimpse Pele. He garnered love wherever he went to play.
Pele failed to score in the first half against Mohun Bagan. In the meantime, Mohun Bagan surprised a huge crowd by taking a 2-0 lead. But the New York Cosmos, which had other greats like Italian Giorgio Chinaglia and Brazil World Cup winner Carlos Alberto, came back strongly in the match and scored two goals. The match ended in a 2-2 draw.
Mohun Bagan organised a party
Mohun Bagan organised a lavish party to facilitate Pele’s visit and presented him with a diamond ring, but the celebrated footballer wished to meet Mohun Bagan’s players, including that time coach PK Banerjee.
Midfielder Gautam Sarkar had the duty to guard Pele in that match recalled the compliment he got from Pele, the 3-time World Cup winner.
Pele last returned to India in 2015 for the Subroto Cup and left the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Mamata Banerjee, and AR Rahman mesmerised. Pele had a unique attachment to India. The great Brazilian will always be remembered in a cricket-crazy country like India.