PSG, Brigitte Bardot, Kylian Mbappé… The King and France, it was quite a story

PSG, Brigitte Bardot, Kylian Mbappé… The King and France, it was quite a story

Pelé, Raymond Kopa, Guy Drut, Michel Drucker, Sim… The most improbable football team of the 20th century associated the best player of all time with some of the greatest French celebrities of the time, during a charity match in 1973. “Unfortunately”, this meeting of the Polymusclé, a team of stars built on the model of the current Variétés Club de France, took place in Liège, Belgium.

But the “King”, who died Thursday at the age of 82, has walked our territory on other occasions, during one of his countless tours with Santos (Paris 1960 and 1961, Martinique 1971, Bordeaux 1973 …), with the New York Cosmos (Paris 1976), with Brazil or as a VIP after his career. 20 minutes made his selection.

1963: A hat-trick for his only match with the Seleçao in France

In 1960 and 1961, the young but already famous Edson Arantes do Nascimento had strolled with Santos during the Paris tournament, played by invitation at the Parc des Princes. But on April 28, 1963, it was in Colombes and within the Seleçao, double reigning world champion, that the 22-year-old Brazilian prodigy challenged France in a friendly. During the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, that of his planetary explosion, Pelé had planted three pawns in the semi-finals at the Bleus de Fontaine, Kopa and Piantoni (5-2).

Five years later, rebelote, but faced with Tricolores in decrepitude, who eat the black bread which will be their daily life until the advent of the Platini generation, at the end of the 1970s. Robert Herbin, Fleury Di Nallo and Marian Wisniewski are subject to the law of the Auriverdes, yet very reworked in the middle of a European tour (Portugal, France, Netherlands, England, Italy, Germany).

The star scores a penalty, flanked by two strikes from the left. “I didn’t give my all, said the hero of the day, diminished by a thigh injury. I hardly ran, nor ever shot from the right. Fortunately for Georges Carnus, who was celebrating his first selection in the French goals.

1971: The almost signing at PSG

Big Parisian news for Pelé that year. On March 30, 1971, surrounded by a compact crowd, he presented the first version of the World Cup on the Champs-Elysées: the winged Jules-Rimet trophy won definitively by Brazil after its third victory, the previous year in Mexico. Two days later, the star played a charity match against cancer in Colombes with Santos, against a French selection, marked by the kick-off given by Brigitte Bardot, preceded by a rather fantastic media crush visible on the images of the ‘INA.

Brigitte Bardot and Pelé on April 1, 1971 in Colombes, before the match between Santos and a French selection in Colombes.
Brigitte Bardot and Pelé on April 1, 1971 in Colombes, before the match between Santos and a French selection in Colombes. -AFP

Pelé will return with his family to spend the end of year celebrations in the French capital. During a press conference, he will discuss his non-signing at Paris Saint-Germain, negotiated and then aborted a few months earlier. “There were contacts between the Parisian leaders and myself. They invited me to wear the colors of their club. But my contract with Santos was not over and I always expressed the desire to end my career at Santos, the only club I knew. [et qu’il quittera en 1975 pour le Cosmos de New York]. »

Founded in 1970, the very young PSG had smelled the right shot, due to the financial worries of the Brazilian club. But despite a visit by its president Guy Crescent on the spot, the affair will fall apart, since, as indicated The Parisian, Santos was at the same time negotiating a lucrative tour of the United States to pay off his debts. A proposal only valid if Pelé was on the trip, of course.

1988: The legendary shot with Platini and Maradona in Nancy

Pelé, Diego Maradona and Michel Platini together on a football pitch? The event only took place once, on May 23, 1988 in Nancy. Funny place for such a meeting? Not really, since the triple Ballon d’or from Lorraine (1983, 1984, 1985) chose Marcel-Picot, the stadium of his professional debut, to celebrate his jubilee a few months after hanging up his crampons, at barely 32 years old.

Diego Maradona, Pelé and Michel Platini, May 23, 1988 in Nancy.
Diego Maradona, Pelé and Michel Platini, May 23, 1988 in Nancy. – Lionel Cironneau / AP / Sipa

If the star of the day and Maradona play this meeting in the middle of stars of the 80s (Zico, Matthaüs, Giresse, Francescoli, Boniek…), Pelé came in civilian clothes to kick off between the Blues champions of Europe 1984 and a world selection. In The Team, Platini remembers that special day. “He had participated in everything, said yes to everything, because he was a really good guy. As a result, we were able to take the legendary photo, the three of us, with Diego Maradona, and the famous “no drug” jersey. »

A tunic that always provokes an embarrassed smile in view of the addiction of the Argentine genius to illicit substances for a large part of his life, which ended prematurely, at the age of 60, on November 25, 1960. “If I had not taken drugs, we wouldn’t even talk about Pelé”, el Pibe de Oro would drop one day, before the reconciliation of the two South American myths, sealed with the death of Maradona. “One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky,” said the Brazilian.

2019: The meeting with Kylian Mbappé in Paris

More than half a century separated Pelé from Kylian Mbappé. The triple Brazilian world champion, then 78 years old, had met the young 20-year-old Frenchman, freshly crowned in Russia, on April 2, 2019 in Paris, on the initiative of a common business partner. Since then, they have not stopped sending each other kindnesses through social networks, Pelé’s Instagram account even giving “dear friend” to the French after the defeat of the Blues against Argentina, on December 18 in the World Cup final at the Qatar.

The meeting between Pelé and Kylian Mbappé, April 2, 2019 at the Hotel Lutetia in Paris.
The meeting between Pelé and Kylian Mbappé, April 2, 2019 at the Hotel Lutetia in Paris. – Franck Fife / AFP

AFP was then able to carry out a cross interview of the two men, from which filtered a real complicity, despite the generation gap and the already deteriorated state of health of the legend. Inevitably, the question of a filiation had been asked. “You see it like me, there is only one “King” and he is there, then reacted the Parisian striker. Me, I’m just Kylian, I try to do my best to help my team, my selection. The comparisons are flattering but I know very well that I will never do what he did. »

Asked about possible advice to his Padawan, Pelé had evaded, laughing: “He doesn’t need it. I just told him he had to be a good boy, a nice person. But above all, stay calm. On Thursday, Mbappé paid tribute to his elder on Twitter, in English: “The king of football has left us, but his legacy will never be forgotten, rest in peace, King. »