A Story About Pele and A Boy

Charlie Norris
3 min readDec 30, 2022

When I was a young boy my father was a Fulbright Scholar and we lived for almost a year in Montevideo, Uruguay. I fell in love with Futball (soccer) and, pretty soon Pele became an idol to me, and to just about everyone on the planet with the exception of those in America. At one time he and Muhammed Ali were probably the two most famous people in the World. Anyhow, I played futball through high school, college and then in mens leagues until I hurt my left knee in or about 1982. I remain an avid fan of the “Beautiful Game”. During the summer of 1977 Annie and I went to meet some friends at the Cobblestone Bar on Anderson Hill Road in Purchase, NY. As we entered the seating area we saw our friends in a back booth. As we headed to the back we walked by several booths on the right. Two guys were seated in one of those booths. One looked familiar. I thought that maybe I knew him from high school, college or somewhere around Westchester, but I couldn’t place him. When we finished a pitcher of beer, I carried the empty pitcher to the bar to get a re-fill. This meant I passed by that booth for a second time, but I still had nothing. I then carried the full pitcher passed the booth and it hit me. It was Pele seated with the goalie from the Cosmos, Shep Messing. Shep left, and now Pele was seated by himself. Annie told me to go over to him, but I hesitated not wanting to bother him. Finally, I got up and walked over. I told him that I was a huge fan, that he meant everything to me and that I just wanted to say hi. I turned to walk away, but he grabbed by shirt sleeve and gestured for me a sit down. We sat together for a while drinking beer. Between his limited English, and my limited Spanish, we got along fine. He was beautiful, warm and gentle, and had a radiating smile. Finally, I got up and went back to Annie. I never even asked for an autograph. It was a seminal moment in my life. A few years later he retired at a game at Giant Stadium. When his moment came to speak to the crowd, he asked them to repeat back to him, “Love, Love, Love”. That was Pele. A sports icon, but so very much more. Some will now debate whether the greatest player of all time was Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento), Maradona, Messi, Ronaldo, etc. I hate these comparisons. Games change and people play at different times. But for me, it is a sad day. Pele was a hero of mine not just for his sport, but for his humanity. My Mom called me today when she heard the news. She remembered how I drank beer with Pele. Thank you for coming along Pele. You will always be in my heart, and the World was a better place because you were in yet. R.I.P. King. Peace.

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