New Delhi: Brazilian football legend Pele tonight set foot in the Capital to a warm reception with around 100-odd enthusiastic fans and officials turning up to receive him at the airport in his first visit here.
Thrice World Cup winner Pele, who is considered the greatest ever footballer, landed at the Indira Gandhi International terminal at 8.15 pm in an Air India flight from Kolkata where he had spent three days in his second visit to that city.
The 74-year-old was received at the airport by officers of the Air Force, which is organising the Subroto Cup school tournament, with a few fans also turning up. Pele was greeted by Air Force Sports Control Board secretary Vijay Yadav and director Souvik Bhattacharya.
As soon as Pele stepped out of the terminal, some fans shouted his name and a girl was seen holding a placard that read ‘The Black Pearl Welcome’. One Air Force personnel came with a pencil sketch of his bust. Sporting a black blazer and a grey colour neckless shirt beneath it, Pele smiled as soon as he came out through the VIP gate.
The crowd mostly comprised Air Force personnel and sportspersons representing it.
Pele, who turns 75 on October 23, is here on a two-day visit on the invitation of the Subroto Cup International. He will be the chief guest of the Under-17 boys final match of the Subroto Cup at the Ambedkar Stadium on October 16.
Tomorrow, he will hold a press conference at a Gurgaon Hotel where he will be put up. The Air Force will also host a dinner in his honour tomorrow as part of a charity night at the same hotel. Three Indian sportspersons, who have already qualified for Rio Olympics 2016, will be felicitated in Pele’s presence.
This is Pele’s second visit to the country after he came to then Calcutta (now Kolkata) as part New York Cosmos club side for an exhibition match against Mohun Bagan in 1977.