As the world mourns Pele who passed on December 29, 2022, GhanaWeb digs into history to fish out one of Pele’s most significant visits to Africa.
In his 82-year stay on earth, Pele visited Africa number of times including one where he played at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Pele was a member of the Santos team that visited Ghana and played against Hearts of Oak on February 7, 1969.
The game ended 2-2 with Hearts of Oak producing a performance that many believe should have won them the game.
The visit by Pele and Santos was part of a project by the Nkrumah administration to expose Ghana football to best practices, teams, and players from Europe and South America.
As part of the project, Real Madrid also visited Ghana.
Read this Match Report by the Daily Graphic on Feb 7, 1969
Not much was seen of the legendary Pele in the match-heralded club international match between the fabulous Santos Club of Brazil and Ghana’s Premier Club, Accra Hearts of Oak at Accra Stadium yesterday.
And when the shrill whistle of referee major George Lamptey sounded, ending the game in a 2-2 tie, fans began to ask themselves whether the match deserves all the money spent on it, not to mention the fantastic high gate fees charged.
To say Pele is not a good player will be an underestimation. For the few occasions that he struck, fans saw in him a demon of a player.
His shooting and heading were a menace enough. And on no occasion did he give a wrong pass. But the man of the match was left winger Edu, whose superlative dribbling rendered the Hearts defence ragged.
On the whole, it was a match between skill and determination. The visitors showed plenty of skill showing superiority in every move they made.
But Hearts compensated their lack of finesse with hard unorthodox soccer, always carrying the game to their opponents. They succeeded in taking the lead on eeach occasion but for one or two unfortunate decisions by the referee, Hearts would have contrary to expectation, won the day.
Hearts were 1-0 up in the 27th minute when Abeka Ankrah found the net with a brilliant shot which could have made even the great Pele envious.
This goal was a morale booster for Hearts and two minutes later, opportunist goal soccer George Alhassan just missed the post by inches.
The visitors, playing as if there was nothing at stake stuck to their short pass-system. Suddenly, Pele struck and in a matter of moments, the entire Hearts defence was mesmerized. A typical Pele pass went straight to right winger Maria but his goal-bound cracking shot was brilliantly saved by Joe Adjei. This really looked like an obvious goal.
Five minutes later, Pele received a back pass and with a close range left-footer, pulled even for his side. There was some element of doubt about the goal, for linesman Hulede has been signaling that left winger Edu was completely offside.
The score stood 1-1 at half time.
Santos were in control of the game after the recess but as they repeatedly failed to find the net through over elaboration in the vital goal area Hearts soon took the initiative.
In the 55th minute, Ghana’s Pele, Amusa found the net when the he had the better part of his struggle with the goalie. Amusa was injured in this process and he remained on the touchline for five minutes.
The visitors protested against the goal but later on gave in.
Substitute player Douglas pulled even the in the 67th minute with an unseen shot.
Play was balanced from this moment, bit it was Hearts who had two narrow misses. George Alhassan actually put the ball in the net in the 67th minute but linesman Hulede who was fast becoming flag happy, ruled it offside.
Amusa missed a last minute goal which would have definitely won the day for Hearts in a match which failedd to satisfy fans, mainly because the fabulous soccer gem Pele, did not give of his best.