January 2023 Volume 19

King Pele has passed

Dr. Glen Laman
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As the World Mourns the great Pele, Old Boys recall their encounters with him and his trip to Jamaica

In 1975 Pele visited Jamaica as a player on the New York Cosmos soccer team that played against an invitational team that featured Jamaican and KC great Alan “Skill” Cole as well as KC Old Boys Lloyd McLean, Billy Perkins and Neville Oxford.

In 1977 Howie Bell was a member of the Caribbean All-Star team that played the NY Cosmos team featuring Pele in Trinidad at Queens Park Oval.

In 1979 while on a Caribbean tour Pele visited the headquarters of Jamaica Football Federation in Kingston where he reconnected with Bell who produced a very large poster of himself and Pele from that All-Star game in Trinidad and asked Pele to autograph it for him.

Old Boy Tony Campbell has a cherished Santos FC jersey which was autographed by the great man himself.

Dr. Denis Johnson who was the captain of KC’s 1965 undefeated Triple Champion team was an associate at Pele’s Soccer Camps. He has graciously shared his photos from that era in the gallery published with this article.

When Noel Spencer’s boyhood friend, Michael Foster, became a coach for Pele’s Soccer Camp in Westchester, NY this prompted Noel to visit the camp and he was often put to work as a ball boy.

Jeffrey Hoyes, former president of the Tampa Connection, recalls seeing Pele in action quite often as he was fortunate enough to obtain season tickets to the NY Cosmos games back then. Jeffrey’s College coach Feliks Fuksman was Brazilian, and played Club ball with Carlos Alberto. He actually invited him to Carlos' retirement event at Warner Communications in Manhattan.

The coach who actually drafted Jeffrey to City University, Ray Klivecka (Lithuanian), Left to coach the Cosmos in 1978 enabling Feliks to take over as head coach.

Hailed worldwide as the greatest exponent and craftsman of “the beautiful game,” Pele has left an unmatched legacy in the annals of football.

He died on Thursday December 29, 2022, from complications due to colon cancer. He was 82.

Pele had been declared a National Treasure in his native Brazil. Among his amazing accomplishments, he led Brazil to three World Cup Championship wins. He is the only player to achieve such a feat.

Of course, there have been several great players over the years but almost all the great football moves can be traced back to Pele. And no one has been a greater ambassador of the sport.

He inspired prince and pauper alike.

May he Rest in Peace.

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