Pelé’s iconic Cosmos tenure sparked long sportswriting career

By the time you read this, we don’t know if 82-year-old Pele will be alive. was doing.

I was still wet behind my ears when I told a terrible lie.

It was March 1977. I was just a kid — I was 24, he was 12 in newspaper years — and said something outrageous.

In 1975, when Pele announced his retirement from Brazil, The Post’s first few years of The Cosmos were gritty, grainy, glass-encrusted, blood-soaked, from Randall’s Island to Yankee Stadium. Joe Marcus, who barely covered football, has died.

I was a sports clerk and a $90 a week takeaway gopher. This often included six days a week.

Our tough, grumpy Edward G. Robinson look-alike, acting-alike sports editor Ike Gellis asked the question out loud one morning: Does anyone know anything about football? ?

Cosmos moved to Giants Stadium and needed a replacement for Marcus.

I wasn’t the heir to the next beat, but I took a quick blind shot. All I knew about football was working over the summer as a lifeguard for Wagner University football and wrestling coach and swim club manager Bill Reid.

I have committed fraud.

Pele came out of a short retirement to play for Cosmos.
George Tiedman/Courtesy of Miramax Films

And it solved. When the Cosmos moved to Giants Stadium to more instant sell-out success than the North American Soccer League could sustain, I was the new football beatman in the post, without qualifications and clues.

And in a matter of days, I will meet the most famous and admired athlete in the world, whom everyone on every continent knows about football, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé from Timbuktu to Totowa, and shoulders. I lined up and wrote on paper.

Oddly enough, Pele didn’t like his nickname. Brazilian Vasco da Gama was given to him at school because he ruined the name of his favorite player Vile, the team’s goalkeeper. He said he was named after Thomas Edison, and preferred the serious and dignified “Edson”.

Well, Pele’s favorites as a kid were prevention Goal.

It was impossible to dislike Pele. Our local press didn’t bother him except for football. He appreciated it and got to know us by our first names. The world’s media caught up with him, using cameras and sound crews to capture the married man’s latest love interest, both real and imagined.

Even Pedro Garay, the Cuban who invaded his homeland to deport Fidel Castro in the Bay of Pigs, Pele’s pint-sized, anvil-hard bodyguard, knew we could trust him.

Garay was another spectacular character in the Cosmos squire. One night in Vancouver, Columbia, just before a game against the Whitecaps, he demonstrated to Captain Warner his Ross how the handcuffs worked. After that the key was not found. He left it in his hotel room.

Here’s what I learned about Pele as soon as I entered the country.

1. Both he and the star’s self-inflicted striker, Giorgio Chinaglia, wanted — needed — the closer to the opponent’s goal, the better. and football freaks Warner co-chairs Ahmet and Nesuhi unconditionally join forces with Steve Ross, Cosmos’ main Warner Communications boss and father figure garnering attention. revealed to Ertegun wanted to object.

Giorgio Chinaglia and Pele, right, playing for Cosmos.
Giorgio Chinaglia and Pele, right, playing for Cosmos.

This divided international home produced some of the world’s most famous teams from approximately 1976 to 1983. I didn’t know much about soccer at the time, so it was fun. When Educational! And poor coach Gordon Bradley was the good guy squeezed in a vise every day.

wrote it myself. So i wrote it. I didn’t know better.

2. I also knew early on that I wouldn’t be able to write unless I wanted to discredit Steve Marshall, the good-natured travel secretary of the Cosmos and a behemoth like 6-foot-5, 290 pounds. Nose tackle and point man, as he noted waiting a lot “over there”.

In 1976, the Cosmos were bused back to BC (before cell phones) from a game against New England at Boston University’s Nickerson Field. The bus did not have a toilet. So at night, as the team yelled for help, the marshals pulled the driver near a deserted field next to Route 84.

Fluid mission completed. The team re-boarded the bus and set off. Until Marshall discovers that Pele is missing.

When the bus returned to look for Pele, Marshall left the world’s most famous athlete to die or hitchhike alone in an abandoned field near Route 84 outside Boston. was attacked by

If we hadn’t fully grasped Pele’s universal fame and appeal, it would have all but vanished ahead of his match against LA Aztecs at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Pele chasing a ball during a Cosmos game at Giants Stadium.
Pele chasing a ball during a Cosmos game at Giants Stadium.
Getty Images

Rumors circulated that Azteca’s partial owner, Elton John, was in the parking lot to pick up Pelé. I was on his team bus, and as we got closer to the Coliseum, the mob started to turn.

So this was my plan: stick close to Pele and Garai. What harm could it do to them?

As we stepped off the bus with our briefcases and portable Olivetti typewriters, the crowd poured in. Suddenly I had no control over my body or my balance. My arm was pinned at my side. If the crowd pushed to the left, I went left, but once almost level.

Pele helped take football to new heights in America.
Pele helped take football to new heights in America.
Getty Images

When I saw the headline “Pele, 20 others die in stampede,” I was really helpless. My name is printed agate at the bottom of the story, then dropped out in the second edition.

(No wonder I get nauseous when the geniuses of ESPN endorse field and court storming as a fun and ritual for good, clean students.)

I told Pele about it after the game and asked him if he had ever been forced to flee such a mob. Then he made a circle with his arms:

“Yes,” he said in English, “all over the world.”

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