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Pelè in Italy
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Pelé in Italy: A Journey of Soccer Magic

The only man on the planet to win three editions of the FIFA World Cup (1958; 1962; 1970). Pelé, the Brazilian wizard hailing from Três Corações, was the embodiment of the beauty of the game.

In a country where soccer is almost a religion, like Italy, Pelé left an indelible memory in the hearts of Italian fans. Every time the Brazilian genius graced Italian fields, the nation stopped to admire his talent.

Beyond personal fandom, when Pelé arrived in Italy, stadiums became temples of soccer where the mastery and greatness of one of the greatest, if not the greatest player of all time, were celebrated. This is the story of Pelé’s unforgettable steps on Italian pitches and his relationship with the Italian professional soccer environment.

Pelé at San Siro for Brazil-Italy

Pelé at the San Siro Stadium in Milan
Pelé at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, on the occasion of a friendly game on May 12, 1963.

When we think of legendary soccer moments in Italy, Pelé’s name inevitably comes to mind. The Brazilian maestro has stepped onto Italian fields more often than many imagine. One of the most memorable encounters was on May 12, 1963, at San Siro, where Pelé faced off against the Italian national team for the first and only time in his career. In a surprising turn of events, O Rei’s squad suffered a stunning 3-0 defeat against a formidable Italian lineup.

Despite this setback, Pelé would go on to step onto Italian turf many more times, leaving a lasting impression on fans across the country.

Pelé in Alessandria for the City’s 800th Anniversary

Pelè in Alessandria
Front page of a newspaper on the occasion of Pelè’s arrival in Alessandria

One such remarkable event was when Pelé visited Alessandria in celebration of the city’s 800th anniversary. It was an occasion so unique and rare that it’s hard to imagine happening in today’s soccer world.

The Santos team, led by Pelé, took on a local Piedmontese squad (competing in Serie C) in a friendly match at the Montagatta stadium. Pelé, who played 580 matches for Santos and scored an incredible total of 568 goals, was the show’s star. The historical clash in Alessandria was like lightning in a clear sky, capturing the front pages of newspapers and filling the stadium’s 20,000 seats in the blink of an eye.

The atmosphere was electric as fans eagerly watched the great champion perform his magic on the field. He scored a goal and assisted Toninho, leading to a 2-0 victory. This nostalgic moment will remain in the hearts of fans as a dream-like experience, of great value to Italian soccer culture and beyond. And although his first encounter with Italy was anything but victorious, his experience on Italian soil certainly did not end in Alessandria.

The Brazilian Bomber’s Further Experiences in Italy

The line-up of Santos that participated in the Italian tour
The line-up of Santos that participated in the Italian tour

The Luigi Ferraris stadium in Genoa hosted him not once, but twice! In 1959 and 1969. Below, in chronological order, you can find a list of all the other matches Pelé played in Italy:

  • Stadio Olimpico in Rome (’60, ’61, ’63, ’72, ’75)
  • Stadio Comunale in Turin (’61, ’63)
  • Riccione (’67)
  • Stadio Flaminio in Rome (’67)
  • Stadio Via del Mare in Lecce (’67)
  • Stadio Franchi in Florence (’67)
  • Stadio Sant’Elia in Cagliari (’72)
  • San Paolo in Naples 

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