Given a choice, on his 75th birthday Brazilian football legend Pele will prefer a peck from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth-II rather than the best cake from London!
“As a sportsman, I cannot eat one cake too much because I grow (put on weight). I prefer the kiss of Queen Elizabeth,” Pele said <g data-gr-id="21">tongue-and cheek</g> responding to a question during a lively 45-minute session at the NSHM Knowledge Campus here.
Pele is in the city after 38 years.
The septuagenarian global football icon, who would be celebrating his birthday at the Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth on October 23, was asked whether he will accept a 75-pound cake from the best cakemaker in London or a peck on the cheek from the monarch.
Pele cheerfully said he will opt for the latter. There <g data-gr-id="24">was</g> immediate laughter, cheers and thunderous applause, that had been reverberating through the auditorium time and again during the interaction as Pele charmed the students and other guests with his witty answers.
Not only did he patiently respond to the dozen or so questions, the “Black Pearl” dazzled his fans with anecdotes. One fan admitted that Kolkata was missing him all these years. It was a huge surprise for all when the “King of Football” showed his prowess with the samba dance as well.
Pele was seen tapping his feet and keeping rhythm with his fingers to an Indian fusion music performance by Sourendro and Soumyojit.
Kolkata celebrates Pele’s birthday in advance
His birthday <g data-gr-id="46">is still be</g> some days away but football legend Pele had the celebrations here on Monday, as Academy Award winning music composer A R Rahaman sang the ‘Happy birthday’ jingle, and former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly clapped in reverence. Felicitated by CM Mamata <g data-gr-id="39">banerjee</g>, Pele cut the birthday cake — in the shape of the Jules Rimet trophy that Brazil permanently won by triumphing in the 1970 World Cup — during a glittering ceremony at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, with thousands of fans of all ages chanting the legend's name. Flanked by the chief minister and Ganguly, Pele expressed his gratefulness.