Pelé's relations with Argentina: from his flirtations with Racing, Boca and River to the day he was a dentist
Journalist Luis Vinker brought together in the book “Pelé in light blue and white” these stories that deepen the bond of the Brazilian star with Argentine soccer< /h2>
Pelé and Coutinho at Santos, a duo that suffered from Boca
Pelé was one of the best footballers in history. Edson Arantes do Nascimento won three World Cups, marked an era with Santos and, beyond the dichotomy with Maradona or Messi, he also left his mark in Argentina, due to the mirror effect at the climax of his career, and because throughout his career he played 39 games in the country. All of them are discussed 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 told 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 they met in a friendly that was then described as “the best game ever played here”. “Football for Gods”, headlined El Gráfico. 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, they are capable of ”.
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 their 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 left 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 them to give it 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 elbowed it off me. I don't know if with bad intention or what. Of course, without the tooth, the pain went away and I felt great relief.”
The cover of Luis Vinker's book, edited by editorial Al Arco
• The final in which he tamed the Bombonera with tricks and soccer< /p>
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. The first dream of Boca's international projection was postponed: the Santos hierarchy gave it its 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 about attacking, scoring more goals than your 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 have a hard time recovering.”
The first leg was played on Wednesday, September 4, 1963 at the Maracanã. 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, Menéndez, 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. At the ends, Dorval was uncontrollable for Marzolini, as was Pepe for Simeone.
Marzolini, injured, had to come out and Orlando covered his place, Silveira entering the middle, to stop Zito's arming. Sanfilippo's discount at 42 prevented the win and towards the end of the game, Nene once again, after a pass from Menéndez, closed the game with a tight 2-3 score.
O'Globo 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 at the treatment of the Brazilians, and not so much because of the match: “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 pitch. 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 currency”.
The rematch was announced for 4:00 p.m. the following Wednesday at La Bombonera. The La Prensa chronicleindicated: “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 formation from Boca (two years later he would join Santos).
That afternoon He is remembered for the 2-1 win, 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 PressThey 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 after the match was tied and according to Sanfilippo, it was a fanfare by 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 slow down, ”he told him to 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 going on and spoke Spanish well, told me: 'Sanfilippo, vocé e bom jogador, pero malo'”.
Deambrosi arranged this time for Silveira to enter from the beginning. Pagani noted: “Silveira came in 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 didn't come”.
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”, summarized Juvenal.
In El Gráfico, 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 El Gráfico in which he revealed his feelings for Boca, Pelé referred to that afternoon at La Bombonera: “Although with Boca I had an almost loving relationship, 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 played 39 games on Argentine soil and the work has the breakdown of each participation (Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
• His flirtations with Racing, Mouth 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, the kind that was fashionable in the 60s.
“If I ever leave Santos, I would like to play in 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 mentioned, Pelé manifested –among the Argentine teams– a certain devotion to Boca. “I love Boca, its colors and its people”, headlined El Gráfico the report made by Tarlis Batista in 1981 in New York and where for the first and only time O Rei agreed to pose with the jersey of a team from our country. There she also told that her first inclination in Argentina was towards Racing, since her colors coincided with her mother's name (Celeste). But then he opted for Boca: his teammates, Orlando and Valentim, who played for Boca, told him about the “unmatched fervor” of their 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 and Spain also launched their offers.
After a long time At some 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 received always by the owners of the canteens in La Boca 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”.
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