Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Daily Record
Daily Record
Stephen Norris

Gatehouse of Fleet man reminisces about the time he played against Brazilian football legend Pele

Brazil legend Pele was laid to rest last week with hundreds of thousands paying their respects in his home city of Santos.

And among those watching the funeral cortege slowly passing the crowds was Ian McHattie – 6,000 miles away in Gatehouse of Fleet.

Former professional player Ian, 70, had the privilege of playing against the great man, regarded by many to be the finest footballer the world has ever seen.

Pele’s death was followed by three days of national mourning – but for Ian memories of the maestro are immortal.

He told the News: “I had been with Crystal Palace for two years and went out to Canada to play for Toronto Metro in 1972.

“We would have our North American Soccer League games, but played a lot of touring sides as well.

“Mainly, the games were against Italian teams because Toronto had one of the biggest Italian populations outside Rome.

“But in my second season I looked at the list of clubs we were going to play – and there was Santos and there was Pele.

“He had won the World Cup with Brazil in Mexico two years previously, so he was still in his pomp.

“I will never forget that game – Pele had this aura about him. I thought I was clever enough to mark him, which was a mistake.

“I tried to get close to him a couple of times, but couldn’t get near the ball.

“He was not a big man, but very strong and built like a middleweight boxer.”

Ian added: “After 70 minutes, unfortunately, Pele stood on my foot.

“He pulled me up after it – but I’d had a previous injury in the same place and had to come off.

“At the end, he put his hand on my shoulder and asked if I was okay.

“I shook his hand – he was a humble man and as nice as ninepence.”

Ian has one abiding memory of Pele’s skill during the match, which Santos won 4-2.

He said: “We had a Scottish full back, Frank Donlavey, who told me ‘I’m going to get him’.

“A Santos player fired a 40-yard pass to him and Frank hurled himself at Pele.

“But he saw him coming – and at the last second stepped forward and killed the ball on his thigh.

“Dunlavey went flying past and could have been given a bus ticket out of the ground. It was like watching a matador.”

Ian added: “I was very sad to hear Pele had died.

“But when you saw the turnout at his funeral, it just shows what an iconic figure he was for Brazil.”

Ian is featured in The History of Creetown FC, where he began his career.

The book, written by Douglas McDavid and Rob Mason, is available from priced £5.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.