Thursday, March 12, 2015

12 March 1973 - Pelé Comes To London

On 12 March 1973, Pelé and Santos FC visited London for a friendly against Second Division Fulham. And lost 2-1.

Although Pelé had been in England with Brazil for the 1966 World Cup, all of Brazil's matches had been played at Goodison Park, making the Fulham match his first in the English capital. His Santos teammates that day included fellow 1970 World Cup winners Carlos Alberto and Edú.

A season-high crowd of 21,464 turned out at Craven Cottage for the game. Pelé, who was already an established international star, was the center of attention, receiving rounds of applause every time he touched of the ball. But Edú turned in the most impressive performance for the visitors with a combination of speed and style.

Santos went ahead with a penalty kick from Pelé, who slipped the ball past Fulham keeper Peter Mellor, but the Cottagers fought back. Midfielder Alan Pinkney, not generally known as a scorer, provided the equalizer, while striker Steve Earle scored the winning goal. It was a hard-fought victory for the hosts; post-match reports described the Fulham players as looking exhausted, while the Brazilians appeared to have barely broken a sweat.

Afterward, a dispute arose between the two clubs, as Santos believed that Fulham had short-changed them on their percentage of the gate. Any animosity between Fulham and Pelé did not last, though, as he later went on to scout for the club in 2002.

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