Amar Shah: 2012, the day I met Pele


Thursday, 9th August, 2012. This day in the future, will come to be known as ‘the day I met Pele’. When I’m an old man (maybe) and I sit my grandchildren down for story time, I’ll tell them the story of the day I met Pele. They’ll probably ask me ‘who’s Pele?’ and then that will be my cue to bombard them with hundreds of facts and figures and of course how I met Pele! Seems pretty straight forward to me!

In early 2012, I started a challenge to get World Cup winners from 1970-2010 to sign my World Cup matchball collection and so one of the first legends I thought of was Pele. I contacted his agents about it seeing as the first ball (Adidas Telstar) was produced for the 1970 FIFA World Cup which was held in Mexico. Pele was part of the winning team from Brazil that had other legends such as Tostao, Carlos Alberto and Jairzinho in its ranks. As this was the first email I sent, I wasn’t really expecting a response but I got one and then the journey to meet Pele began! 4 months later and I was in 'Casa Brasil' at Somerset House waiting for my time to meet the legend. After waiting around for a bit while he was doing some promotional work, the moment finally came and I got to sit and chat with Pele.

Pele was brilliant! I told him about my project and he said it was a very good idea for a project. He was genuinely interested in what I was doing. He was happy to sign up, his eyes seem to light up when I told him about my challenge. He was meticulous with his signature too, going over bits that were slightly smudged or a bit light and it was great to witness and see in real life that he’s a bit of a perfectionist. I told him about my exhibition plans and that I had a 1970 replica shirt too. He said ‘does it have number 10 on it?’, ‘let me see’ and was happy to sign the shirt for me too. As we got ready to have our picture taken, I held the ball and Pele says 'wait don't forget the shirt!'. So we posed for the camera (with shirt and ball in hand) and smiled. I was probably only with him for 5 minutes but it felt so much longer, I would've happily stayed there all day.

He wished me good luck with the rest of my project and I thanked him. An amazing experience and one that I’ll always remember. I can’t wait to get old and tell the grand kids about ‘the day I met Pele’.

Amar Shah

Follow Amar @worldcuplegends

Memory added on September 25, 2013

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