When ‘O Rei Pelé’ Came to Play in Costa Rica

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    Edson Arantes Do Nascimento better known as “Pelé” visited Costa Rica 4 times; he came with Santos de Sao Paulo on 2 tours in 1959, when he was barely 18 years old, and in 1961. He returned in February 1972 and the last one was in February 1997, as Extraordinary Minister of Sports of Brazil. According to the newspaper La Nación, in each of those visits, the “King of Soccer” dazzled by his gift of people, warmth, and friendliness.

    One of the most remembered presences of the Brazilian star was in 1972 when he came with Santos from Brazil and faced Saprissa in the old National Stadium; the match ended tied with a score of 1-1. “He arrived in the country in February 1972, when Edson Arantes do Nascimento –“Pelé” to the world– was at the height of fame, as 3-time world champion, after triumphing with the Scracht du Oro in Mexico in 1970. Pelé was brought here –5 decades ago– by the Argentine businessman and former diplomat Casildo Osés”, recalled Rodrigo Calvo, journalist and historian on his page Buzón de Rodrigo.

    “Saprissa responded 5 decades ago, on the night of Tuesday, February 1st, 1972. Santos had to equalize 1 to 1, with Jader’s goal and Pelé’s service, after he suffered with an initial goal from Édgar Marin,” he added. “That time, when Pelé arrived in Costa Rica in 1972, it did not happen like recently with Messi, in 2011. Pelé signed the contract and guaranteed that he would play at least 45 minutes. Santos was worth US$15,000 at that time and if Pelé did not play they would lower US$5,000. Here they charged cheaper because Costa Rica is a small country, with less population, but it charged more expensive in Mexico, less than US$50,000, and in Colombia, about US$30,000”, reported Enrique Weisleder, who at that time was the treasurer of the purple directive; the now deceased leader of Saprissa said it a decade ago, in an interview with the newspaper La Nación, in February 2012.

    Calvo recalled that the visits from “Pelé” were total madness. “In short, a football ambassador across the planet who stopped wars, riots and revolutions. Because when Pelé’s Santos arrived to play in those countries, there was a truce to admire him and watch him play. Do not forget that, at the end of 1999, he was awarded by the French newspaper L’Equipe with the title of “Sportsman of the 20th Century”, wrote the journalist.

    And what was the value of the ticket to see “Pelé” in action?

    This advertisement for the friendly match between Deportivo Saprissa and Santos de “Pelé” was published 5 decades ago in the newspaper “La Nación”, on February 1st, 1972. Tickets ranged from ₡ 12 in the sunny area, up to ₡ 50 in a numbered box seat.

    “O Rei” passed away this past Thursday, December 29, 2022, at the age of 82. May rest in peace, “Pele”…

    Resonance Costa Rica
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