Prefer peck from Queen Elizabeth than cake on 75th birthday: Pele

Kolkata, Oct 12 (IANS) Given a choice, On his 75th birthday Brazilian <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>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 tongue-and cheek responding to a question <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>during a lively 45-minute session at the NSHM Knowledge Campus here.

Pele is in the city after 38 years.

The septuagenarian global <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>football icon, who would be celebrating his birthday at the Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth on <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>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 was immediate laughter, cheers and thunderous applause, that had been reverberating through the auditorium time and again <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>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.

“This is a little bit like the samba,” he said and went on to hum and mimic the beat that was played. Samba is a lively and rhythmical dance of Brazilian origin with an equally engaging music.

As female members of the audience threw questions at him, Pele graciously replied and admitted that it was a pleasure for him to answer queries posed by the women. Spectators stood up and clapped at the <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>football giant’s acknowledgement of women empowerment.

Lauding women players, Pele said women footballers are becoming very strong.

“Girls have become very strong in <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>football now. I had the opportunity to train the American women footballers. They became very strong,” he said, adding it was a pleasure to answer queries by women in the audience.

He told the audience of his love for street <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>football and revisited the days when his mother used to get angry as he frequently got his clothes dirty.

“Of course, I have played street <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>football and I loved it. I used to play it in Sao Paulo with the kids in school and in the rain. We were not rich then and my mother used to scold me for getting my clothes dirty, sometimes she said, ‘I won’t give you the football.’ But now I call her up and say ‘look what I am now’,” he said.

When asked to offer suggestions and tips on playing well, Pele stressed on fitness.

“You can’t separate modern <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>football or old <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>football (genres). The player has to be prepeared for the future <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>football. Sometimes you see a lot of good players but not in a condition to play because of <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>health. The most important thing in life is health,” he said.

His mantra for success, said Pele, was to respect people and be prepared always “and never, never think you are the best”.

During the programme, Pele was felicitated and his statue unveiled – that showed him attempting the bicycle-kick, on which he signed. A student also presented Pele a sketch of him.

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