Pelé is a footballer that everybody in the world knows something about.
Three-time World Cup winner, scorer of over a thousand goals for club and country and generally considered to be the greatest player ever to play the game, the only real blot on his copybook is that he never played for Arsenal!
Indeed, Pelé stayed with Brazilian club Santos for the first 18 years of his career — spanning from 1956 to 1974 — before moving to the New York Cosmos in an attempt to raise the profile of the game in the US.
It recently came to my attention that for the seventeen years from 1953 to 1970, a period in which the Pelé story grew as he weaved his spell on the world and won three World Cups and countless Brazilian championships, our beloved Arsenal did not win a single trophy.
On hearing this remarkable statistic I contacted the great Arsenal blogger Goonerholic, a man who was around during that barren spell, and was surprised to hear that despite our woeful record during that period our strikeforce was actually rather good.
Our recent Twitter exchange went something like this:
Me: Could we have done with a world-class, top-of-the-range attacker during that period?
Goonerholic: Probably not. We had good forwards and a Mickey Mouse defence in the late fifties and much of the sixties. For example: in 1963-64 we scored 90 goals but conceded 82 and finished 8th!
Me: I’ll re-phrase: would having Pelé have helped at all?
Goonerholic: Having Pelé would help any team at any time!
When a man as educated and experienced as Goonerholic makes a statement like that, it shows the sort of esteem that the Brazilian is held in.
And while Pelé may have done well to avoid our club in the prime of his career but the truth is if he was playing football now, it is hard to think of a club more suited to the Brazilian legend than Arsenal.
Our dedication to beautiful football — or ‘Futebol Bonito’ it is known in Brazil — has drawn great praise from Pelé in the past, with the legend admitting a couple of seasons ago that he is a huge fan of the way we play the game.
Now, to celebrate the Futebol Bonito that was pioneered by Pelé and is proudly carried on by our boys at Arsenal, the wonderful people at Pelé Sports will be giving AFCB readers an exclusive opportunity to win some of their brilliant clothing.
A brilliant Pelé Sports jacket and Pelada T-shirt is up for grabs and all you have to do is check out the blog tomorrow for info on how you can win.
In the meantime I encourage any of you lucky enough to have been around during Pelé’s career to share your memories of him as a player and ponder how he would have fit into the current Arsenal side.
You might also want to share their memories of the Arsenal team that went 17 years without a trophy in the fifties and sixties, although I’m not sure we want to hear about it!
Have your say on Pelé and Arsenal by leaving a comment.