emotional | 

Eamon Gibson: ‘When Pele and I spoke about our sons, he broke down in tears’

Then, as he handed me the gift and wishing my son well, he started crying

Pele and Eamon Gibson

Eamon GibsonSunday World

As a child Pele was my hero, and I loved him.

He was absolutely brilliant at the 1970 World Cup finals, a tournament that goes down as one of the best ever.

Years later, I had the pleasure of meeting him, one of the greatest sports stars of all time.

It turned to be very emotional.

After having a chat I asked him would he do me a favour and sign a shirt for my son which I would give him for his birthday.

He said no problem and was really brilliant at doing it, insisting on spreading the jersey so he could fit in the words ‘To Craig, best wishes from Pele’.

As he was finishing he asked me, when is his birthday?

I said 23rd of October. He stared at me with a look of shock in his eyes and said, ‘but that’s my birthday!’

Neither of us could believe it and we broke our hearts laughing.

Then, as he handed me the gift and wishing my son well, he started crying.

I was devastated.

Pele

I asked him what was wrong and he asked me to come aside and have a private conversation.

We sat down and he told me a story about his son, who was involved in a hit and run with his friend after knocking down a man who died from the accident.

They were caught and were facing a jail sentence. He sobbed and sobbed and I hugged him but what could I say?

He went on to explain that the son was a goalkeeper for Santos, where Pele was a hero. The son had said he would never play outfield because he would be compared to his dad, and that’s why he wanted to be a goalkeeper.

He said to me: “You look after your son because maybe I am not there enough to look after my children.”

It was very emotional and a memory that will last with me forever.


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