Pelé’s relations with Argentina: from his flirtations with Racing, Boca and River to the day he was a dentist

Pelé and Coutinho at Santos, a duo that suffered from Boca

Pele He was one of the best soccer players in history. Edson Arantes do Nascimento he won three World Cups, marked an era with Santos and, beyond the dichotomy with Maradona or Messi, he also left a mark in Argentina, due to the mirror effect at the climax of his career, and because throughout his career he played 39 parties in the country. All of them are matter of approach in the book “Pelé in light blue and white”written by the journalist Luis Vinker.

The work is made up of 15 chapters and 160 pages. “Pelé marked an era in sport and reviewing his decade of glory we see how closely he was linked to Argentina. He played almost 40 games in our country, always leaving his mark both in official matches and in friendlies and even in tours of the Interior, which today would be unthinkable for a star of his size ”, anticipates the author in the introduction.

Here, we delve into three stories narrated in the post.

• The “best game ever played in Argentina” and the day Pelé became a dentist

On September 28, in a packed Huracán stadium, Racing and Santos faced each other in a friendly that was then designated as “best game ever played here”. “Football for Gods”Title The graphic. Panzeri himself admitted it: “Racing played a great game, the best we’ve ever seen. Santos was superior, but without crushing. The two had the same participation in the party. Nobody defended. They all attacked. That is why the football played became agile, surprising, forceful, even in the result. Neither of them speculated on the result. Both wanted to win and in the same game, in favor of that intention, a fresh, spontaneous, offensive game was improvised. With a Pelé who never, like in that friendly against Racing, filled our eyes so much. As only phenomena, in any activity, are capable of doing”.

He also expressed: “Those who did not go to the Huracán field on Thursday the 28th to see Racing-Santos may have reasons to regret it for a long time. brilliant football. It is the same football that became almost Sunday in Buenos Aires with the San Lorenzo of ’46 or the River de La Máquina and its substitutes. Soccer of men grouped in permanent and fast circulation”.

Racing lost 4-2. But no one cared too much about the result: it was a party from start to finish. After 4 minutes, they gave Racing an indirect free kick just outside the area, a pass from Sosa to Pizzuti and definition with a left foot, which rendered Laércio’s flight useless.

But the Brazilians did not sleep. And in two minutes they were up with goals from Bé and Pelé. However, Pizzuti was inspired and on 32 minutes nailed the 2-2 lead that Dorval broke five minutes later. Mauro came out from his area for Pelé, still in his field: he threw the ball for Dorval who surprised, from behind, the Messiah brand to define: in three passes they covered 90 meters and reached the goal.

Racing managed the game in the second part, although it was difficult for him to give him the final blow. And the last work of Pelé arrived, typical throughout his entire career: Getulio takes the free kick, Pelé receives in the center of the area, ball to the chest. Before he goes down, almost halfway around, he nails the right hand for 4-2. He asked for it, received it and defined it. He placed it in the left corner of Negri to close the 4-2.

(Federico) Sacchi told the journalist Eduardo Verona: “At that time Buenos Aires was a party and the game with Santos, too. The result was the least. I played with a tremendous toothache and in a struggle. Pelé ripped it off me with an elbow. I don’t know if with bad intention or what. Of course, without the tooth, the pain went away and I felt great relief”.

Pelé in light blue and white
The cover of the book by Luis Vinker, edited by editorial Al Arco

• The final in which he tamed the Bombonera with tricks and football

The afternoon of Wednesday, September 11, 1963 turned into a rainy night over the city and a crowd began the silent deconcentration of La Bombonera. The euphoria of the previous one had been extinguished, when an epic day was throbbing. Boca’s first dream of international projection was postponed: the Santos hierarchy gave him his second consecutive Copa Libertadores – still known as the “Champions Cup” – and the move to a new Intercontinental, which was secured weeks later.

The difference in that final series for the Libertadores 63 was not only Pelé, but something else: Santos in its splendor had accumulated significant international experience and Boca rarely left local competitions.

On the eve of the first meeting, Lula –the Brazilian coach– in dialogue with Juvenal was very confident in his team (“We have a pattern of play, a discipline and, most importantly, men with the ability to improvise”) and critical of the Boca that had eliminated Peñarol: “I saw him in Montevideo, always eight men behind, defending. But football is attack, score more goals than the opponent. You have to take precautions, but you can’t be behind the whole game, defending. If Argentine soccer continues to play like this, it will be very difficult for it to recover ”.

The first leg was played on Wednesday, September 4, 1963 at the Maracana. Santos, with its stellar formation and an offensive quintet that was scary: Dorval, Lima, Coutinho, Pelé and Pepe. The coach Deambrosi opted for Rojitas as the starter and with Errea in goal, instead of Roma, who was hurt. He placed this formation: Errea, Magdalena and Marzolini; Simeone, Rattin and Orlando; Grillo, Rojitas, Menendez, Sanfilippo and Gonzalito.

Santos resolved the game in just ten minutes, between 18 and 28 minutes when the combinations of his stars ended up in the net: Coutinho the first and the second, Lima the third after a play in which Zito, Pelé and Coutinho played. For the tips, Dorval was uncontrollable for Marzolini, as well as Pepe for Simeone.

Marzolini, injured, had to leave and Orlando covered his place, Silveira entering the middle, to stop Zito’s assembly. Sanfilippo’s discount at 42 prevented the win and towards the end of the game, Nene again, after a pass from Menéndez, closed the game with a tight 2-3.

O’Globe commented: “The gala show that Pelé gave at the Maracana between minutes 15 and 30 was an anthology piece that will not be forgotten. One of the main mistakes in Boca is to play defense, without any counterattack system. Cracks like Sanfilippo, Grillo, Orlando or Rattin, with enough international class, were limited to a series of combinations without any effectiveness”.

Armando was angry about the treatment of the Brazilians, and not so much about the game: “they treated us very badly. When they come to Buenos Aires we go out of our way to serve them. We give them paintings by Quinquela Martín, we put everything we own at the feet of those who visit us. Here, first, no leader approached us since his arrival, for four days. They denied us the stadium to train at night. They didn’t let us practice with soccer cleats. The Boca players only had authorization to step on the Maracaná in the afternoon and in slippers. They said it was to take care of the field. But it turns out that in those days they had been practicing marches of a band of a thousand men on the field. And on top of that, they watered the field before the game. In the end, why go on? But in Buenos Aires we are going to take it into account and we will pay with the same coin”.

The rematch was announced for 4:00 p.m. on the following Wednesday at La Bombonera. the chronicle of The Press indicated: “To break the impatience of the spectators, at 15:30 the members of the wrestling team of the local entity paraded around the entire perimeter of the field, exhibiting the trophies won in different tournaments. They were headed by the entity’s professor, Mr. Danese. The appearance offered by the stands at 4:00 p.m. was impressive. They seemed to move like a true human wave”. At 4:13 p.m., Zito led the appearance of Santos. Then the French referee Marcel Bois and the lines, the German Werner Treichel and Eunaipio Gouvea de Queirós, from Brazil. And at 4:15 p.m., before an impressive ovation, captain Orlando Pecanha de Carvalho led the Boquense formation (two years later he would join Santos).

That afternoon is remembered for the 2-1 draw, for one of the greatest and masterful displays of the Pelé-Coutinho duo, and for some attitude from 10, when he stopped the game to change his shorts. In The Press They questioned him for that: “He is a comedian, but he did what Santos needed to win. He first looked for a foul to stay on the floor and change his pants, which had lost his bra. Then, in an exchange of caresses with Silveira, he pretended to have received a blow and spectacularly sought the penalty ”. That play happened with the game tied and according to Sanfilippo, it was a fan of Pelé. “I don’t know if he broke the strap or if he did it on purpose, but because his pants fell down, the game was stopped. That’s where we stopped, ”he told Page 12 half a century later. “Rattin would pick him up and help him. I yelled at him ‘Leave it, step on his ankles, so he doesn’t play anymore. He kicked me there and you lift him up…’; Pelé, who listened to what was happening and spoke Spanish well, told me: ‘Sanfilippo, vocé e bom jogador, but bad’”.

Deambrosi arranged this time for Silveira to enter from the beginning. Pagani pointed out: “Silveira entered to support Rattin. Corbatta and Valentim stayed outside. Boca had plenty of stars. And it was a machine in the first half, Grillo overwhelmed the right, Rojitas broke the waist and continued, Menéndez looked for Sanfilippo. Gonzalito ventilated from the left. But the goal did not arrive ”.

Boca dominated, although without depth, just converted when the second half began with a right hand from Sanfilippo. The joy lasted just two minutes, a classic combination of Pelé and Coutinho was sentenced by him on the departure of Errea. Santos took control and the goalkeeper from Boca saved two goals, first from a shot from Pepe and then from a header from Pelé. When 37 minutes went by, the one who set up was Coutinho for Pelé on the right, he left Orlando behind with his ability – he made the ball bounce off his legs and, before the goalkeeper left, he touched softly for the definition: 2- 1. “He defined that final by making the wall with an opponent”synthesized Juvenal.

In The graphic, Juvenal wrote: “Boca had the ball, the field and the opportunities. Santos had Pelé and Coutinho (…) They have Pelé. And Pelé has Coutinho. Very easy. Adding up all the starting forwards of the main teams in our midst, we have not been able to put together an offensive formula that can even come close to the one made up of the two of them. The problem transcends Boca and covers all of Argentine football. We lack clarity to arrive, we lack persistence in the exploitation of that clarity, when it comes to be produced. We are missing Pelé and we are also missing Coutinho”.

Much later, in an interview for The graphic In which he revealed his feelings for Boca, Pelé referred to that afternoon at La Bombonera: “Although I had an almost loving relationship with Boca, there were also unpleasant moments. There was an occasion when the fans made me feel hate. Before the final at La Bombonera… I remember that at the moment we went out onto the field, the Santos formation came over the loudspeakers. When they named me, the fans began to insult my mother. Not only me, all my classmates were enraged. So, on the same court, we decided to change the game plan. Initially, as the draw favored us, we were willing to play cautiously and try counter-attacks. But outrage led us to decide that we should go on top of them, put pressure on them, and be done with it right away. When Rattin said that he would kill us if we dared to cross half court, we laughed in the face. Grillo was playing well and forced us to take care of him…”. He also accurately remembered the play for his goal (“It is the only one that I clearly remember from all the games I played with Boca”).

Pelé in light blue and white
Pelé played 39 games on Argentine soil and the work has the breakdown of each participation (Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images) (Pictorial Parade/)

• His flirtations with Racing, Boca and River

After expressing some feeling for Racing or, finally, posing with the Boca shirt, Pelé did not lack some flirtation with River either. It could be one of the many public relations gestures of his, in which he proved to be an expert. And considering that it was for the party magazine, there are not too many doubts in that regard, although many fans of the Band have mentioned it over time. It happened before a summer game in Mar del Plata, those of those who were fashionable in the 60s.

“If I ever leave Santos, I would like to play for River. When I entered their stadium, I was amazed. Until then, I believed that the biggest, the most spectacular, was the Maracana. But when I started touring the Monumental, I told myself: if I ever leave Brazil, I’ll come to this club,” he told River magazine.

In one of the notes that we already mentioned, Pelé expressed –among the Argentine teams– a certain devotion to Boca. “I love Boca, its colors and its people”Title The graphic the report made by Tarlis Batista in 1981 in New York and where for the first and only time oh king He agreed to pose with the shirt of a team from our country. There he also told that his first inclination in Argentina was towards Racing, since her colors matched her mother’s name (Celeste). But then he opted for Boca: his teammates, Orlando and Valentim, who played for Boca, told him about the “incomparable fervor” of his fans.

All this is relative since throughout his life Pelé cultivated a passion/hate relationship with Boca, he also spoke several times about that feeling for Racing or, at some point, cited River’s interest in taking him among its ranks. “There is no money capable of buying Pelé,” replied the leaders of Santos, after winning the second Intercontinental, when the powerful of Italy or Spain also launched their offers.

After a long time, when the echo of those battles against Rattin and company had died down, Pelé recounted in that interview other aspects of his relationship with the xeneizes: “I will never be able to forget how I was always received by the owners of the La Boca canteens when I went to eat, after the games, with my teammates.. Many times I left their halls singing and dancing as in my own country. I felt at home and was received as if I were part of the neighborhood. Also, after the games, I remember that the Boca fans were always the most affectionate, the most effusive in their displays of affection and esteem”.

Keep reading:

Pelé, the king of football, died: the complete story of the myth that transformed a sport

Farewell to a football legend: Pelé’s life in 25 photos

Pelé’s ten chosen goals: the best plays and magnificent finishes of his career