Armeio Neto, the Marketing Director for Santos FC, has pitched the idea of Pelé making an appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup this December in a potential final versus Barcelona. Pelé, who netted over 600 goals for his former club, will be a sprightly 71 years old when the tournament begins.
Although the likelihood of this happening is minimal, Neto does not wish to discredit the idea entirely:
“I don’t doubt anything. It also depends on the coach. If Pelé is a boost to the team then why not?”
If the manager of Santos thinks a 71-year-old relic will add something to a squad which already boasts Neymar and Gonzo, then perhaps Santos need to ask themselves a few questions. As the voice of reason, Santos President Luis Alvaro Ribeiro expressed a slightly more rational opinion:
“Of course, even though Pelé trains, he would not be able to play for a long time, but one can imagine him coming on at the end of the game to take a penalty.”
And hopefully no more than that. Remember, this is a rather important tournament which every confederation champion takes very seriously. You would be hard pressed to find any appropriate instance for Pele to be substituted on the pitch, unless of course Santos is up 3-0 against Barcelona and the club still has two substitutions remaining (in order to remove Pele immediately after he pulls whichever muscle).
In the seven FIFA Club World Cups, Brazilian clubs have won three titles while the remaining four went to the UEFA Champion. The 2011 edition begins on December 8th in Japan. Santos and Barcelona, who enter the competition in the semifinals, will play on December 14th and 15th respectively.