One week into the World Cup and some days after the official opening it was time to visit the king. And since the intelligent and beautiful wife is Brazilian she is interested in football as well and was also looking forward to visiting the new Museum Pelé. The king himself had opened it five days ago, almost 60 years after he started playing for Santos at the age of 15. The rainy and cold day seemed just the right reason to visit him.
Museum Pelé is located in downtown Santos which is unfortunately a rundown and sometimes a little dangerous part of town. But it is the oldest part of the town and has some amazing buildings and one of these big buildings, close to the old railway station, had been restored and now houses in two separate wings and on more than 6 floors a lot of what there is to see and to know about the king of football. Pelé.
It is hard to not be affected by Edson Arantes do Nascimento – so his real name – simply because in Brazil he is hard to avoid. While in Germany he is maybe best known for starring in a Viagra commercial, in Brazil he endorses a pharmacy which you find in every fifth street and there is a almost life-sized cardboard version of him in front of these stores. He is the Beckenbauer of Brazil, but this comparison also a bit unfair, because Beckenbauer has never been as favourite and maybe as good as the king.
I did not know a lot about Pelé because I was simply born too late for the World Cups he won or took part in (’58, ’62, ’66 ’70). I’ve seen enough videos of him to understand that he was a great football player. But he must’ve not only been a great one, he must’ve been extraordinary in his time – not only as a player but as a person. One part of the fun in visiting this museum is to see the pictures of Pelé with all the people who wanted to shine as well in his fame: popes and politicians, movie stars and singers – everybody. It is funny to see so many US politicians with the world’s best football player of their time, and this is one thing that the museum unfortunately does not transport: the fascination and admiration that the person Pelé received in his time especially off the football field. Where his opponents did not tackle him in a World Cup match, because he was injured and substitutions were not allowed – the respect for Pelé was so big, that the players waited for Pelé to pass the ball before the next player was attacked.
But let’s talk about the rest of the exhibition. There are many objects to see (and many more to come), some are kind of cute like the piggy bank he saved his first money in, others are strangely absurd like the saber he received from the Queen of England, making him the only owner of a football saber made by the gunsmiths of the crown. The main exhibition also has levels dedicated to each of the Wold Cups, showing a few emblematic scenes and stating over and over again by many people, what an amazing player Pelé has been.
The other part of the building, separated by the entrance, the souvenir shop and the not yet working Café Pelé is the interactive part of the museum, with some video projections, a video quiz, three not completely working exercises (sprint, dribble and shoot like the king) as well as having a quick photo montage produced with you in one of the historic photos of Pelé. This part is fun as well but aiming more towards children, which is also a nice thing, that there is something for kids to do while their father is watching old videos.
All in all the intelligent and beautiful wife agreed with me, that our expectations had not been very high and that the 18 Reais per person were well spent. Regardless if you are a football fan or nor, if you are in Santos you have to visit the Museum Pelé, otherwise there will be one thing about Brazil you will never understand.