Disappearance. Why Pelé has never played for a European club

If Edson Narantes di Nascimento alias « Pelé » has walked the lawns of the whole planet in the jersey of Brazil, he has never crossed the Atlantic to put his suitcases in Europe.

This is undoubtedly the main downside of a career spent almost exclusively in Brazil. But also the main argument of those who question his status as « best player of all time », believing that he would therefore have chosen the easy way by staying at Santos rather than exporting his talent to higher leagues.

Santos was playing well, I was playing well, I didn’t want to leave.

Pele in 2015

A choice assumed by the “King”. Indeed, Pelé has received many offers to come and play on the Old Continent, he admitted in 2015 in an interview with the British press, citing advances from AC Milan, Real Madrid, Juventus Turin or Manchester. United.

Prestigious clubs that he chose to reject for « the love of the country ». “In the past, football was a profession filled with love. Now it’s just a job. There is no love of playing for a club or for a country. I had a lot of offers… But Santos was playing well, I was playing well, I didn’t want to leave.

« Non-Exportable National Treasure »

But this is not the only version of the story. At the end of the 1950s, the Santos club surfed on the success of its jewel and traveled the world on marathon tours, giving Pelé international stature. A notoriety that reflects on all of Brazil to such an extent that, in 1961, the government decrees, without really asking his opinion, that the player becomes a “non-exportable national treasure”.

A decision that will seal his future. Finally, Pelé will end up leaving Brazil, at the twilight of his career. But rather than go to the East, he took the direction of the North and the United States, for a last experience at the New York Cosmos, from 1975 to 1977, convinced by the arguments of Clive Toye.

“If you go to a European club, you will win a championship. If you come with us, you will win a country, ”assured him the manager of the American club. A little phrase that hit the mark in the mind of the Brazilian.


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