Pelé photos: Football legend's trip to Edinburgh's Tynecastle Park remembered after his death aged 82
Edinburgh visit by football legend Pelé remembered following his death
The sad news of the passing of arguably the world’s greatest ever footballer, Pelé, evoked some happy memories for an Edinburgh man who was in “the right place at the right time” when the Brazilian legend visited the Capital in 1989.
Pele was in Edinburgh as part of a whistle-stop tour of Scottish football grounds taking part in the Under-16 Youth World Cup being held in the country, including Tynecastle Park, home of Hearts, and the venue for Scotland’s semi-final victory over Portugal in that tournament.
Carpet-fitter Steven McDougall was a 14-year-old schoolboy at Tynecastle High School at the time. Hearing of Pele’s passing yesterday at the age of 82 transported him back to the lucky day when he and fellow ‘Tynie’ pupil Jamie Doig were suddenly in the company of the great man, a surprise bonus while visiting the stadium for a class project.
Now 47, Steven said: "Jamie and I were doing a project for Modern Studies about Scottish football and had asked Hearts and Hibs if we could visit them to learn more about how a football club works, and Hearts invited us along.
"We turned up at the main doors at Tynecastle, where we kind of half-noticed it was a bit busy with people mulling around, and the receptionist said ‘you’ve come at the right time, have a look around the ground, get what you need and then come right back’. So we went round, took photos, went back to reception and were told that Pele was in the conference room!
"We were told we could sit-in with the reporters and a group of school kids, I think from Boroughmuir High. It was heaving in there. Hearts players, like Sandy Clark, John Robertson and Gary McKay, were there also. We couldn’t believe Pelé was sitting right in front of us! He spoke about his career and then we got to meet him. I have vague memories of shaking his hand and speaking to him briefly, but I can’t even remember what I said!”
Despite being so glad to have met the Santos and New York Cosmos football legend when he visited Gorgie 33 years ago, Steven wishes he still had his photo with, and autograph from, the great man.
He said: “I was thinking about our meeting when I heard the sad news yesterday. My son doesn’t believe that I met him. My daughter and her friends couldn’t believe me either.
"My mum had framed the photo and autograph I got from Pele. I had it hanging up for years, but I must have lost it when I moved house. I wish I still had it. I’d be over the moon if I could find it. I can pinch myself now that I got to meet him, arguably one of the greatest if not the greatest footballer of all time. We were so lucky to meet him. It was a ‘right place at the right time’ kind of thing.”