After 38 years, Brazilian football legend Pele set foot again in the city on Sunday morning amidst cheering from vociferous fans. Such is the craze surrounding the now 74-year-old that it was a struggle for the organisers and the security contingent to escort him to his car. Clad in a black blazer and a grey t-shirt, Pele before entering the vehicle waved to his fans who were waiting eagerly to catch a glimpse of the legend. The crowd chanted “Pele, Pele” and some waved Brazilian flags. Pele has no other engagements for the day and he will be driven to a five-star south Kolkata hotel, where he would rest for the day. His tour will kick-start on Monday with him revisiting the historic Eden Gardens ground, where the city’s football fans had seen their favourite Samba magician 38 years back in a friendly match.
The triple World Cup winner, playing for American side New York Cosmos, featured in the exhibition match against local powerhouse Mohun Bagan in 1977. In a double bonanza for sports buffs, Pele and the city’s very own former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly will come together during a chat show at the Netaji Indoor Stadium on the same day. Among others to be present at the event will be Academy award-winning music composer A.R. Rahman and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Tennis star Rafael Nadal will also join the show through a video conference. Members of the Mohun Bagan team who played in the 1977 match would be present and get a chance to interact with the Brazilian superstar. Prior to the chat show, Pele will hold a press conference at a five-star hotel and then head off to the NSHM Knowledge campus for a tete-a-tete with the students.
On Tuesday, Pele will be the guest of honour at the Indian Super League (ISL) defending champions Atletico de Kolkata’s home game against Kerala Blasters. He would also meet the ATK players the same day. The Brazilian would round off a hectic day by taking part in an auction dinner. The proceeds would go the chief minister’s relief fund. The buzz surrounding his visit is palpable with banners and posters of the legend splashed across the city while some of the leading confectioners and hotels have plans to prepare delicacies in his honour.