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Chronicle Live
Chronicle Live
David Morton & Aaron Morris

We recall Pele's Newcastle United links after footballing icon dies aged 82

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, more commonly known by his nickname; Pele, is certainly up there in debate with being the greatest footballer to ever walk the face of the Earth.

With 1281 career goals to his name, and an incredible three World Cup victories the Brazilian native has unfortunately passed away today (December 29) aged 82 - following a lengthy battle with colon cancer.

Pele, who is considered to be the world's first global superstar, initially undergone surgery to remove a tumour in his colon in September 2021. However, he was admitted back into hospital in November this year in a re-evaluation of his cancer treatment.

Read more: Football legend Pele dies aged 82 after lengthy battle with cancer

He was soon after diagnosed with a respiratory infection before being moved to palliative care after his body stopped responding to chemotherapy. Doctors and nurses at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo made him as comfortable as possible, while his wife, Marcia Aoki, remained by his bedside. He passed away on Thursday.

And while the world pays their respects and remembers one of the greatest sportspeople in history, here at Chronicle Live, we thought we would also reflect on all of the fond memories of Pele on Tyneside.

Pele actually played against the Magpies once upon a time

It's a little-known claim to fame that Newcastle United once faced off against the Brazilian legend. The match came at the end of the 1971-72 season, with the Toon Army embarking on a four-match tour of the Far East.

On June 4, 1972, NUFC took on Santos at the Happy Valley Stadium in Hong Kong after the Magpies finished eleventh in the old First Division. Household names such as Bobby Moncur, Jimmy Smith, Frank Clark and John Tudor all took part in the fixture, while 'King of Tyneside' Malcom Macdonald was away on international duty.

Pele was 31 at the time, but the number 10 was still in fantastic form - managing to slot three against the Toon to see out a comfortable 4-2 win for the Vila Belmiro side.

Former Toon full-back Frank Clark recalled the game: “We were 2-1 up at half-time. We were the better team before the break, but it was a different matter after half-time. Pele suddenly decided to turn it on. He scored three fantastic goals in about 15 minutes.

“After 65 minutes, he went off – and that was it. We lost 4-2 but it was a great experience being on the same pitch as the world’s best player.”

Brazilian footballing legend Pele visiting St James' Park in October 2003 (Newcastle Chronicle)

Pele actually visited Newcastle upon Tyne

Fast forward to October 7, 2003, and the Brazilian jetted into Newcastle to launch a photographic exhibition, charting his own life and times, at Northumbria University. It was a visit which would see him come face-to-face with our very own North East football legend, Sir Bobby Robson.

The Chronicle, then reported: “Soccer giant Pele was mobbed by fans today as he arrived on Tyneside. The world’s greatest player touched down at Newcastle Airport to be greeted by autograph hunters and journalists.

“The triple World Cup winner was in the region to open a new exhibition of photographs chronicling his life on and off the pitch. He was greeted by a group of Newcastle youngsters showing off their ball skills as he emerged from the arrivals hall.

“A crowd quickly gathered around Pele and followed him outside to his car, which whisked him to St James’ Park. During the course of the day Pele will meet Geordie heroes Sir Bobby Robson, Alan Shearer and Peter Beardsley."

Rest in peace, Pele.

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