Why Pele rejected Real Madrid, other European clubs during his peak
Why did Pele never play for a European club? Well, speaking after his illustrious career, he explained why he turned down a move to the likes of Real Madrid and Napoli.
On Thursday, Pele passed away at 82 following a long battle with colon cancer.
The Brazil icon will go down as one of the greatest footballers to ever grace the sport, having starred for club and country.
He scored a bucket full of goals for Santos and won an incredible three World Cups with Brazil.
Naturally, his heroics for Brazil attracted plenty of interest from Europe’s elite, with Real and Napoli keen on snapping up the luxurious forward.
But Pele failed to secure a move to a top European club during his storied career. However, that was out of choice.
He claims he was ‘very close’ to signing for the Spanish giants and then ‘once more’ with Napoli, who, of course, boasted fellow icon Diego Maradona from 1984 to 1991.
Though Pele has ‘no regrets’ about not playing in Europe because Santos was the powerhouse at the time and he was enjoying his time in Brazil.
“There were many times when I was very close to signing with Real Madrid, and then once more with Napoli in Italy,” he revealed.
“It’s not a regret. I was at Santos, and at the time they were a powerhouse.”
Pele added: “I didn’t play outside of Brazil because I was very, very happy at Santos, I had the best 15-20 years of my life there. I had plenty of other proposals and not just from Real Madrid either, but I was ok where I was.”
Pele eventually left Santos after a good 19 seasons to join New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League (NASL) for the 1975 campaign.
He played two seasons in the States, scoring a reported 37 goals before walking away from football.
Had Pele signed for a European club, then no doubt he would have scored a staggering number of goals. It’s a shame he never plied his trade in Europe, but his legacy is set in stone following his extreme success at Santos and Brazil.
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