Tag Archives: Pelé

Museu do Futebol (São Paulo)

Referring to the different waves and streaks that football teams experience, the Argentinean Jorge Valdano made popular the sentence “A team is just a mood (1).

The Football Museum (Museu do Futebol) at the Sao Paulo‘s municipal Pacaembu stadium is an invitation to go through those moods, re-live some of those past moments anchored in the collective memory, by way of recorded sounds, cheering chants, radio excerpts of goals narrations, videos and interviews about the most important goals of Brazil history.

el-maracanazoYet, in my opinion, the most impacting mood, very well caught in the museum, is the transition from euphoria to depression, from music to complete silence, the tragedy of the losing the last match of 1950 World Cup between Brazil and Uruguay. A match that Brazil just needed to draw, started winning, yet lost it. The Maracanazo. In just 90 seconds, in a dark room you get submerged into the happiness of the day that would see Brazil win the first of many World Cups at the newly built Maracanã and then how the mood at the stadium changed with the first goal of Uruguay, then the second and at the end the final whistle from the referee.

Nevertheless, no matter how impacting the Maracanazo was for Brazil and football history, and how well captured it is at the museum, it would be unfair not to mention that in the museum there are many other very positive and happy moods of Brazilian football captured very well, too. If I went to think of Brazil, I would first think of happiness, football, music, dance; and those are experiences that accompany you along the museum.

The museum itself is centered around Brazil’s national football team, the only one which has won 5 World Cups to date, the country which practically at any point in time has one of the best 2 or 3 players of the World, the country of Pelé, Garrincha , Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Zico, Romario, Tostao, Rivaldo, Rai, Djalma Santos, Didi, Pepe, Gerson, Carlos Alberto, Rivellino, Socrates, Cafu, Bebeto, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Neymar… you name them.

DSC_0323The visit starts with a room where some players are picked as the most important to Brazil’s history; some images and biography of each one of them is offered.

The following room is dedicated to the goals, the main ingredient of the game. The 30 most celebrated goals in Brazil’s history are recorded and narrated by the authors or journalists (in Portuguese, English or Spanish). Several interactive screens are available for visitors to go through the different goals. There are also some desks where to listen to radio narrations recorded at the time of some of those goals.

See some of them in the video below (2).

The following rooms are dedicated to recordings of the chants of all the main teams competing at the Brasileirao; to Charles Miller, the man who introduced football in Brazil; and to a collection of pictures the years in which football was introduced in Brazil, showing life in Brazil at the time.

DSC_0326The largest space is dedicated to the World Cups, all of them, not only the ones won by Brazil. Some context of the society, cultural movements and events going on at the time are shown, together with images of the Brazilian team competing at the championship, the winners, some charismatic players and vivid images of the competition. That is another room where to wander with time enough to be captivated by the evolution of football, the players and events of the times.

There is another space dedicated to the couple Pele and Garrincha: with them playing together in the field, Brazil never lost a match (out of some 40 joint appearances). Some personal objects, pictures and videos of their best tricks are shown.

The last rooms are dedicated to football rules, some statistics, women in football and the chance to try a penalty kick against a featured Julio Cesar, where your shot’s speed is measured (and then compared to a Roberto Carlos’ shot).


(1) “Un equipo es un estado de ánimo”.

(2) The video is unrelated to the museum but contains some of the goals among those 30.

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Santos, Pelé and the Memorial das Conquistas at Vila Belmiro

Santos is a port city about an hour drive from Sao Paulo, crucial for the development of the coffee industry in Brazil and the inflow of slaves from Africa in the XIX century. But Santos is mainly known today because of the Santos football club. The Santos football club is known because it was there where Pelé played for the most of his career. And Pelé…

Pele“My name is Ronald Reagan, I’m the President of the United States of America. But you don’t need to introduce yourself, because everyone knows who Pelé is.” Ronald Reagan (at a visit of Pelé to the White House)

In my third trip to Brazil, I wouldn’t let it pass away the opportunity to rent a car, drive from Sao Paulo to Santos and visit Vila Belmiro, the stadium of Santos FC and the museum “Memorial of the conquests” (Memorial das Conquistas).

Named the “Athlete of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee, Pelé joined Santos when he was 15 years old  (in the museum you can see his first contract as professional) and in his first complete season he finished as top scorer of the league with just 16 years. At age 17 he scored 58 goals in the league; a record that still stands today… With Pelé, Santos went to win:

Today, Santos it is neither the team with more Paulistas championships (Corinthians (27), Palmeiras (22) and Sao Paulo (21) are ahead in that ranking), it shares the lead in Brasileiraos with Palmeiras (both with 8), it is not the club with more Libertadores cups (8 teams are ahead in that ranking, led by the Argentinean Independiente (8), Boca Juniors (6), Peñarol (5)… including Brazil’s Sao Paulo with 3) nor is the American club with the most International Cup (Peñarol, Boca Juniors and Nacional de Montevideo won 3). And despite of all that, the club Santos was declared by FIFA as the best club of the XX century in the Americas (4). Because it was in Santos where Pelé played, and with him the team reached the summit in the 1960s when it lived a dream decade, the years of Os Santásticos who achieved 25 titles between 1959 and 1974. Santos, according to FIFA was the first team to reach the 10,000 goals scored and has plenty of other goal records (5). It was in that Santos that Pelé was the first attacker reaching the mark of 1,000 goals scored (6).

Those days are long gone. Nowadays the club, Santos, wanders around the 100th position of the World Best clubs (7), struggles in the Brasileirao (ending between 7th-9th in last 3 seasons) and most great players are continuously sold (8). However, Vila Belmiro still captures very well the essence of the good old times.


Vila Belmiro, or rather the Urbano Caldeira stadium, was built in 1916, close to the port of Santos. It is a small stadium with capacity for barely 17.000 spectators. Thus, for some important matches Santos plays in the bigger stadiums of Sao Paulo (mainly at Pacaembu (9)). Nevertheless, it’s a cozy stadium, where you have a good view of any spot of the field from anywhere. I liked especially the boxes at ground level named after the great players of the history of the club (10).

The tour of the stadium included a visit to the locker rooms (each locker in the local team room named after the club’s legends, with a special spot for Pelé), the tunnel to the field (well separated from the visitor’s tunnel, each at a different corner of the stadium), the field, the benches.

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An anecdote for Spanish football fans: in the corridors at field’s level a poster with the following sentence from the Spanish football commentator, Julio Maldonado, can be seen:

“Silencio… juega el Santos”, Julio Maldonado, “Maldini” (Silence… Santos’ is playing)


I definitely recommend the visit to the museum and the stadium. You will be submerged into the history of football for a couple of hours (if you chose to read everything) for just 13 R$ (about 3 euros).


(1) Arguably the most important of Brazilian states’ tournaments.

(2) Competition founded in 1959.

(3) Created in 1960, is the South American equivalent to the then Europe Cup and nowadays’ European Champion’s League.

(4) The award was based on a vote by the subscribers of the bi-monthly FIFA World Magazine (see here). For the record, with over a 42% of the vote, Real Madrid was elected as best club of the century.

(5) The goal 10,000th was scored in 1998 (the club was founded in 1912). In the museum there is a digital counter updated with each goal scored. At the time of my visit it was above the 12,200 mark. For comparison, Real Madrid had scored about 8,800 goals in official competitions only up to January 2015.

(6) Pelé holds the Guinness World Record for being the player with most goals scored, 1,279.

(7) See here the 2015 IFFHS club world ranking.

(8) Unlike Pelé, who in 1961 was declared as a national treasure in order to prevent him from being transferred to richer European clubs.

(9) At the municipal stadium of Pacaembu there is another museum, the Museo do Futebol, which I also visited and about which I may write at a later point.

(10) I only referred to Pelé in this post but in Santos played at some point in time as well: Gilmar, Coutinho, Clodoaldo, Carlos Alberto (the latter two were part of Brazil’s 1970 World Cup final roster), and most recently Robinho, Ganso and Neymar.

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