The King of Football finally won his palace, and it will be open for all to revere the majesty of Pelé. This Sunday (15 June), the city of Santos, in São Paulo's coast, will inaugurate a museum dedicated to the history of the most famous number 10 of the Seleção, the three-time world champion footballer who has earned the title of "Athlete of the Century" from the IOC and a plethora of other recognitions that could fill paragraphs and paragraphs.
Housed in a historic mansion in the Valongo neighborhood of Santos, the Museum has in display about 2,400 pieces of the collection that Pelé gathered during his nearly 74 years of life. The collection spans the entire time during which Pelé dazzled the world on the pitch, but goes further. From the shoeshiner box he used to make money in his childhood to the award for Best Player of the 1970 World Cup, the Pelé Museum holds objects of incalculable value to fans.
“The museum will give visitors a comprehensive overview of Pelé as a player, an idol and a myth, as well as of his importance for football and for Brazil," said journalist Odir Cunha, one of the museum's curators.
Complementing the historical pieces that tell the life of the little kid born in Três Corações (state of Minas Gerais) and raised in Baurú (state of São Paulo), technological devices installed in the museum will allow visitors to interact with Pelé himself. A hologram of the King will receive tourists. Visitors will also have the chance to repeat Pelé's thousandth goal or learn how to dribble like the King.
Four Cups and a King
To complement the permanent exhibition, the Museum will open with the special collection "Four Cups and a King," which will tell the story of Pelé's participation in the World Cups of 1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970 - of which Brazil won all but the 1966 one, played in England.
Even though Pelé did not play the 1950 World Cup – he was only a boy about to turn 10 at the time - that Cup will also have a space dedicated to it in this first exhibition. “This World Cup was important to Pelé, who saw his father crying with Brazil's defeat in the Maracanã and promised to give him that Cup. In 1958 he went to Sweden and won it," says the curator.
Cunha says the museum will also show a little-known scene of the first Brazilian World Cup. “A video that will draw attention is one of a match between Uruguay and Spain at the Pacaembu stadium. The first Uruguayan goal, by Gigghia, is identical to the one he would later score on Barbosa (Brazilian goalkeeper) [at the final]. The Seleção was playing in the Maracanã while that match took place. If this videotape existed at that time, would Barbosa have saved that shot?”.
The collection also includes video footage of a play that was only seen (so far) by those who were in the National Stadium of Chile in 1965 during a friendly tournament Santos participated in: a goal by Pelé against the Czechoslovakia National Team, which, according to Cunha, has unseen footage.
Approximately R$ 50 million were invested in the construction of the Pelé Museum, housed in a 19th century mansion that was practically rebuilt - only three walls of the original building withstood the time and the damages caused by two fires. The work included private investment and funds from the state and federal governments.
The museum includes two buildings, one for the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions and another for interactive pieces, and will also feature an auditorium, an administrative wing and an exclusive room for Pelé where he can receive visitors and authorities coming to Santos.
“The creation of this museum is fundamental. It will be a turning point in the history of the city," said Luiz Guimarães, Santos’ Secretary of Tourism. “From now on we will receive a steady flow of foreign tourists to visit the Museum, which is important to us. It will be one of the country's main attractions for football aficionados. Santos projected Pelé to the world, and now Pelé will bring the world back to Santos”.