NEW DELHI: He might be travelling halfway across the globe to promote youth football through Subroto Cup but Brazilian legend Pele on Thursday declared that there won’t be another like him and the man who draws constant comparisons with him, the inimitable Diego Maradona.
Widely regarded as the greatest footballer to have played the game, the 74-year-old Edson Arantes do Nascimento will be in the capital next week as a special ambassador at the 56th edition of Subroto Cup 2015 final match.
“There will be only one Pele because my mother and father have closed the machine! But seriously, every player is unique and different. Just like there will be only one Maradona, one Zidane or one Beckenbauer,” Pele said.
Nicknamed the Black Pearl, Pele has won one Ballon d’Or, three World Cups and scored a staggering 1,283 career goals.
Pele first wowed the world as a 17-year-old by helping Brazil win their first World Cup in 1958. He went on to help them defend their trophy in 1962 and then, in 1970, led the greatest team of all time to victory in Mexico to win the tournament for an unequalled third time.
“I spent my childhood playing local tournaments where Waldemar de Brito, who was scouting for Santos FC at the time, saw my potential. The opportunity which he gave me at Santos FC changed my life forever, and I remained with the club for nearly 20 years.”
He said it was important for a country like India, which will be hosting the U-17 World Cup in 2017, to encourage youth tournaments such as Subroto Cup, which is organised by the Indian Air Force in New Delhi.
“Sports is the best way to encourage young kids to be active and healthy, and to stay out of trouble. Most importantly, it teaches work ethic. And youth tournaments are the best way for them to improve their football skills, learn from their coaches and teammates and also make new friends.”Voted the World Player of the Century by International Federation of Football History & Statistics and Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1999, Pele plans to share with the kids playing in the Subroto Cup a few tips.
“I am excited to meet the kids and share with them the importance of team work, good sportsmanship, respect, and hard work. Also, I want to remind them that football is not about one or two star players. The only way to win is as a team.
“This tournament is already a great opportunity to showcase youth football, and to show that India can stage an important international sporting event.”