A day after the death of Brazilian football legend Pelé, former Congolese defender, Maurice Filankembo, recalls a friendly match between his national team and Pelé’s club side, Santos FC, played at Brazzaville’s Stade Massemba-Débat in 1967.
At his home in Libreville, Gabon, he remembers how he felt when ‘King’ Pelé swapped shirts with him. “He came towards us, and he comes, he pats me, he takes off his shirt, he gives it to me. He asks me for mine” he recalls, “we hug, but I wasn’t in myself anymore! The king, the king of football, comes to my home after a match to congratulate me.”
“Pelé was a phenomenon and everyone wanted to see him, and that day there were people who had never been to the stadium, who went there to see the phenomenon,” Filankembo recalls.
‘Inspiration for the continent’
Brazilian football superstar Pele, who has died at the age of 82, was “a unique inspiration to the African continent” who will “forever live in the hearts and minds of football lovers”, the continent’s football chief said on Friday.
“His death is a huge loss for supporters and football fans,” said Patrice Motsepe, the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Motsepe also hailed Pele’s “commitment to improve the living conditions of the poor and marginalized”.
The three-time World Cup winner, widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, died Thursday after a long battle with cancer.
His passing sparked a wave of emotion and tributes across the world as Brazil began a three-day national mourning.
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