Brazilian legend and football’s elder statesman Pele will come to India after a gap of 38 years after accepting an invitation to attend the final of the 56th edition of the Subroto Cup as its chief guest, the tournament organisers said here on Monday.
Pele, widely regarded as the finest exponent of the game, will be in the Capital as the chief guest at the tournament’s final to be held on October 16. He will reach the city on October 15, Indian Air Force, the organisers, said in a press conference adding that the financial aspect of bringing global football’s ambassador to the city has been taken care of.
The 74-year-old had earlier visited the country in 1977 featuring in an exhibition match for his American club New York Cosmos against Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan on September 24 at a sold out Eden Gardens. The match ended 2-2.
The three-time FIFA World Cup winner (1958, 62 and 70) recollected his first trip to India in a video message and said he was eager to come back again.
“Excited to come to India. It is a very special country. I remember I played in Kolkata in 1977 with my team New York Cosmos. Thank you for the invitation to be your guest,” the celebrated footballer said.
“I look forward to the meeting with the young generation of India. See you in Delhi.”
The 2015 Subroto Cup will be held from September 11 to October 16 and will see participation of over 100 school teams from India and across the world. The matches will be played in Under-14 (boys) and Under-17 (boys and girls) categories.
The organisers said Pele will be the special ambassador of the tournament and will be a part of various activities surrounding the largest youth football tournament in Asia.
This year Pele’s childhood club Santos FC, where he spent nearly 20 years of his illustrious career, will be participating in the tournament.
“It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Pele will be visiting India after a gap of 38 years for the final of the Subroto Cup. We are delighted to have his presence,” Air Marshall M.K Malik said.
He added Indian Super League (ISL) franchise Delhi Dynamos’ marquee footballers Brazilian Roberto Carlos, who is also the coach, and Frenchman Florent Malouda will also grace the final match with their presence. The Dynamos will also be conducting a football clinic in the city on Air Force’s request.
Pele’s contribution to football and his immense stature in the sporting world made the organisers identify him as a fitting ambassador for the tournament which started in 1960.
“He is appreciative of contribution of Subroto Cup to football and he will be coming to India for encouraging the participants,” Malik said.
Air Commodore G. Amar Babu said they are planning several programmes during the tourney but they are all in the planning stage as yet.