After the initial plan to bring him to Nigeria in August was shelved due to ill-health, the Brazilian football legend, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pelé, scheduled to visit the country on September 22 – 23.
Pele’s visit is a part of a two-day programme focused on the development of football and the Nigerian youth. It starts with a football clinic with Pelé, a celebrity exhibition match and concludes with an exclusive dinner with selected guests and Pele.
There will also be an auction of Pelé’s memorabilia at the gala night. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Kanu Nwankwo Foundation and the City of David Football Academy.
Pelé is renowned for many achievements; some include scoring 1,281 goals in his professional career and receiving an honourary knighthood from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. He was, among others named ‘Athlete of the Century’ and ‘Player of the Century’ by the International Olympic Committee and Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), respectively.
Pele first visited Nigeria in 1967 during a two-day ceasefire during the Nigeria/Biafra Civil War, which allowed the warring sides to watch the Pele and Santos team play an exhibition match in Lagos. His then club, Santos played against the Nigerian national side then known as Green Eagles. The match ended in a 2-2 with Pelé scoring the two Santos goals.
The football legend has been involved in a number of charity activities with a focus on children, youth empowerment and campaign against societal ills. He has partnered with UNICEF and Great Ormond Street Hospital to raise funds for children’s causes. He was also appointed United Nations ambassador with a focus on environment protection.
Pele’s visit is an anticipated one, as it would spur younger footballers and also serve as a dream come-true to football aficionados who would love to see him in person.
Culled from The Guardian Nigeria