Pele, the Brazilian football legend, concluded the first day of his trip to the city reliving the time with veterans of Mohun Bagan, the team that hosted him on his first visit to the city 38 years ago.
Pele feted all the 13 players and coach P.K. Banerjee of the 1977 Mohun Bagan, who were present in person to receive the honour from the greatest footballer on earth, at the Netaji Indoor Stadium on Monday evening.
Subrata Bhattacharya, the captain of the then Mohun Bagan team, called in all the players to be felicitated by Pele and shared the stage with the owner of three World Cup crowns. The others present included the likes of Shibaji Banerjee, Prasoon Banerjee, Gautam Sarkar, Bidesh Bose, Shyam Thapa and Pradip Choudhury.
Prasoon Banerjee, the younger brother of P.K. Banerjee and now a Trinamool Congress MP, asked Pele who he thinks was the better among the two celebrated Argentines – Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi. “Both have the same style and are great players but Maradona was a more complete player than Messi. So for the last 10 years Messi is the best player the world has seen,” Pele insisted.
To another question on the possibility of the world seeing another Pele, the legend quipped, “My mother and father have closed the machine.”
Pele also had a special moment with the internationally acclaimed music composer A.R. Rahaman, who has scored the music in a Biopic on the Brazilian great which is yet to be released.
“I am zero on sport and know the names like Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar. I have composed music for Pele’s biopic without even knowing him. But when I saw the ‘rush’ of the movie I cried three times,” Rahman said after meeting the legend in person.
“I wanted to see the real Pele. He is such an amazing personality, a great inspiration. All my musician friends were jealous when they came to know that I am doing the music for Pele’s biopic,” Rahman, who is an international celebrity himself having won the Academy and the Grammy Awards, said about his experience.
Rahman sang a line from the regular birthday song for Pele, for whom the birthday celebrations were brought 11 days in advance. Pele, who turns 75 on October 23, also cut a cake that was made to look like the Jules Rimet Trophy, that he had helped Brazil retain forever after becoming the World champion for the third time in 1970. Also present alongside were the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly.