Edson Arantes do Nascimento died at the age of 82, but his legacy will remain in force for eternity

“I love Boca, its colors and its people.” This is how Pelé surrendered to the Argentine club in an interview with El Gráfico in 1981, the year in which Diego Armando Maradona was champion in La Ribera. With a number 10 shirt on and his thumb up, O Rei brought out his love for the blue and gold, which had germinated in those Copa Libertadores finals with his historic Santos, in the 1963 edition. Almost 60 years after that paulista feat, a relic of the brazilian star who has just passed away continues to be treasured by an old xeneize glory.

The Xeneize led by Aristóbulo Deambrossi suffered the first half at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, where in the presence of 55,000 spectators the first leg of the Libertadores final was played. The Brazilians took the lead with a brace from Coutinho plus a goal from Lima before the clock struck 30 minutes. José Sanfilippo discounted twice to leave the series open (3-2) that would be defined on September 11, 1963 at La Bombonera, in front of almost 70,000 fans.

The one who had shown some brushstrokes of the enormous football that he would deploy throughout his career was Ángel Clemente Rojas, a kid who had just emerged from the blue and gold youth academy and played 15 official matches before the finals of that unforgettable Libertadores. Rojitas was carried away by the hostile climate that had been set up against Pelé and made what he himself considered one of the worst mistakes of his life: he spat at O Rei after coming across a play. “He was crazy and my colleagues wanted to kill me. ‘Animal, you spit on the best player in the world,’ they told me, “he revealed years ago in an interview, without forgetting to emphasize the chivalry with which the mineiro accepted his immediate apology.

“They treated me badly and fouled me a lot… If I let myself be carried away by that, I wouldn’t admire the way I admire their fans,” the three-time world champion with the Brazilian team clarified in one of the notes he gave after his retirement as a soccer player. professional. And in another reference to that final, he expressed: “Some of my greatest emotions, as a player and as a man, I lived in Argentina, at La Bombonera and at La Boca.”

Despite the short circuit and that it was precisely O Rei who defined the title at La Boca through an assist to Coutinho and his goal in the final minutes that gave Santos a 2-1 lead, there was camaraderie at the end, he exchanged a few words with the xeneize promise and even gave him the shirt that, to this day, he keeps as a relic in his home.

Legend has it that in the middle of the game, located in the central circle, Pelé fell to the ground and asked for a change of shorts because he was broken. According to xeneizes footballers who witnessed the event, it was to cool down Boca’s push. “I played in all the stadiums in the world, but I never felt an earthquake when a team takes the field like in La Bombonera,” he said years later, almost assuming that his mischief helped his team slow down before winning the Cup So good was that cast led by Luís Alonso Pérez (alias Lula) that he would later win the Intercontinental against Milan by Argentine Luis Carniglia.

In an exclusive interview with Infobae, the historic Boquense glory said that until today he has an image immortalized in his dining room with Pelé, who signed the photo. “It was extraordinary. I spoke with him, although the truth was that I understood him a little and I was ashamed. He even gave me his shirt, ”he reveals. The Brazilian star was impressed by Rojitas’ ability, to the point that he even signed him up to be a teammate on São Paulo soil, something that did not prosper.

“I had the paddock on me. He did the same as when he was a boy but with another responsibility. I never left the pasture, neither the neighborhood nor my childhood friends”, was another of Rojas’ sentences. Those characteristics with which Edson Arantes do Nascimento has probably identified, were not unnoticed by the Santos star. According to his close friends, he also admired Boca figures such as Rattín, Marzolini, Grillo and Menéndez, while acknowledging that it was his favorite team in Argentina, although he also knew how to praise River and Racing in other interviews.

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