Although the historic Swedish football arena, where Brazil won its first World Cup title will soon be knocked down, its memory will last for ever, Brazil star Pele said on Tuesday.
Pele revisited Rasunda Stadium along with three other members of the 1958 Brazil squad, Mazzola, Zito and Pepe.
The quartet hugged and greeted eight survivors of Sweden’s 1958 runners-up team on the pitch, all players wearing yellow jerseys with the symbolic number 58 on their backs.
Before walking out onto the pitch, Pele said he had reminded teammate Zito that “we have to thank God we are still around. The others have passed on.” At the 1958 tournament Pele burst onto the international scene. In the final he scored two goals. But the World Cup event also helped put Brazil on the map, he said.
Pele recalled the strong support and warm welcome the Brazil team felt in Sweden.
“When we played here in 1958, at many games it felt like playing at home,” Pele said, extending a warm thank you to the Swedish public.
Pele recalled that he had “just turned 17 and the visit to Sweden was his first visit outside Brazil.” Among the “many, many memories” he had of the final, Pele said he still remembered how the Swedish King Gustav XVI Adolf had congratulated both teams after the final.
“Usually we (players) would go up to the section where the presidents or VIPs sat, now for the first time a king came down to us.” A minute later, the 1958 manager of the Sweden team, Bengt Agren, showed Pele an old Swedish newspaper from the day after the final with the headline “Come here king” and a photo of the enthused Brazilian players.
Sweden’s Kurt Hamrin, a winger who scored a memorable goal in the semifinal against West Germany, was less emotional about the fact that Rasunda Stadium would soon be demolished.
The stadium has also been the home ground for Hamrin’s former Swedish club, AIK, which will move.
“I’ll just go to the other arena. I look forward to the new modern arena, where it will be easier to access,” Hamrin said.
A friendly on Wednesday between Sweden and Brazil is to be the last international at the 75-year-old Rasunda Stadium. Pele said he was pleased to know that some memorabilia from the stadium would be sent to Brazil.