Pelé in New York, and America loved soccer – Liberation

“Football” in gold

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Against all expectations, it was on the other side of the Atlantic, in the New York club Cosmos, that Pelé, who died on Thursday, ended his career in 1977. This passage of the king in a country where football then only rhymed with oval ball, will be opened. Americans’ eyes for the game of soccer, even though they keep talking about “soccer.”

Among the 75,000 or so enthusiasts gathered in the gallery are Mick Jagger, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, Elton John or even Diane Keaton, who hangs out with Henry Kissinger and Mohammed Ali. But the most absolute icon, the man of power and the rock star on October 1, 1977, are all united in one and the same person who steps onto the pitch at Giants Stadium for the last time: Pelé, almost 37 years old, for whom this prestigious match between the two clubs of his life, Santos FC and New York Cosmos, take the place of the divine twilight. He died on Thursday at the age of 82.

Roberta Flack then Sergio Mendes interpreted the American and Brazilian anthems. President Carter’s son – who, like his predecessors Nixon and Ford, had already received “King” in the White House – opened the ceremony with a statement signed by the head of state, as an expression of America’s gratitude. Muhammad Ali shed a tear. The stands continued to chant “Love! Love! Love!”, echo of the evening’s hero’s ecumenical speech at the microphone, also in tears, before he registered the 1,281 with a beautiful free kick. and last career goal credited to his unmatched legend. After the break, when he changed shirts to finish the match in the colors of Santos, his hometown and his first club, there was a downpour.

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