Santos museum to honor Pele

The port city of Santos will build a museum to honor its best-known treasure: Pele.

updated: August 26, 2007 06:32 IST
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

The port city of Santos will build a museum to honor its best-known treasure: Pele.

Santos Mayor Joao Paulo Tavares Papa said the $8 million museum would spearhead the renovation of the city's historic district, presently in ruins.

Papa announced the project on Thursday with Pele and Sao Paulo state Governor Jose Serra.

"We are joining the desire of Pele with the disposition of the governor and the recovery of our heritage. These are long-standing dreams," Papa said on the city's Web site.

Pele, 66, leaped when Papa made the announcement and punched the air, his trademark commemoration after scoring a goal.

"This project will attract tourism and promote the country, that deserves this gift," he said. "I feel proud."

The museum will occupy a refurbished 1865 structure and will show films and documentaries about Pele. It also will contain his personal belongings, photos and trophies, today scattered across the globe.

Pele's only objection was with the title "museum."

"Now I'm going to fight with the mayor, because I don't want it to be called museum," he joked with the daily Estado de S Paulo. "Museum is for old things. This will be eternal, it will be eternally new, so let's see if we call it 'Pele's House' or 'The Pele Collection.'"

Born on October 23, 1940 in the poor interior town of Tres Coracoes, Pele won international fame as a player for Santos, a city of 500,000 people about 72 kilometers south of Sao Paulo.

His phenomenal talent earned him a starting berth on the team as a teenager, and he was only 17 when he won his first World Cup title for Brazil in Sweden in 1958.

He also was a member of Brazil's World Cup champions in 1962 and 1970, becoming the only player to win the title three times. He also scored a record 1,281 goals in his 22-year career, and was named the Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee in 1999.

For years he starred for Santos - his only Brazilian club - before transferring to the New York Cosmos at the end of his career and retiring in 1977. He was a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations and is widely sought for commercial endorsements.