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  • on 12.10.2015
  • at 03:31 PM
  • by evelina

When Pelé played in Nigeria during its civil war (did he really bring a ceasefire?) 0

The story goes that in 1969 the great Brazilian footballer Pelé and his club, Santos, stopped the Nigerian civil war for 48 hours as the warring factions (Nigeria and Biafra) put aside their differences for a couple of days for Santos to play in the country.

But did this really happen? And how come the world’s greatest player came to Nigeria in the first place? In this essay, I look back through the archives in search of the real story of Pelé in Nigeria.

The Lagos Match

The Brazilian club, Santos, embarked on a money-making African football tour in January 1969. The itinerary included exhibition matches in The Congo, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ghana, and Algeria. Pelé, the world’s best football player at the time, was a Santos player and the star attraction on the tour. He was already a two-time world champion, and would lead Brazil to their most celebrated victory the following year in Mexico. He got crowds into the stadium and enabled Santos to charge high appearance fees for their exhibition matches. Fans wanted to see him play against their teams and were willing to pay for that privilege.

Santos arrived at Lagos International Airport on Sunday morning, January 26, 1969. They were scheduled to play their exhibition match against the Green Eagles, Nigeria’s national team, that afternoon at the Lagos City Stadium. 28-year-old Pelé was received by Nigerian football officials and journalists eager to welcome him to the country. Santos arrived in Lagos on the back of a 3-2 defeat in Kinshasa to Congo’s national team – The Leopards.

 

Continue reading on: Africa is a country

by Olaojo Aiyegbayo

Photo credit: Africa is a Country

 

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