The New York Cosmos Wanted To Retire Pele’s Number Until They Found Out They Already Had–In 1977 (UPDATED)

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Written By Chris Azzopardi

Here’s the problem with running a soccer club that hasn’t played a game in 30 years–when you want to do something, like retire the numbers of the greatest players of a bygone era, it’s easy to forget that it was already done. As the new New York Cosmos prep for their first competitive match since 1984, they mulled a ceremony to retire the numbers of the late Giorgio Chinaglia (9) and their all-time greatest player, Pele (10). Except they already retired the “10″ shirt, way back in 1977 at halftime of Pele’s final game. Oopsy daisy.

Via Big Apple Soccer:

“We are very much considering the No. 9 and No. 10 numbers to be honored in some way,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said after the team’s open practice for fans at Hofstra University on Wednesday night. “They were two great players. We have so many great players, too. We cannot retire all of the numbers. There were so many good players.

“The ownership is very intune with the past and wants to every respect every aspect. That’s why we are here at Hofstra University. They will make sure they will consider all those things, including the numbers.”

Yeah…about that.

Here’s Jim McKay telling us that no one will ever wear Pele’s Cosmos number ten again during the broadcast of that farewell game back in ’77.

Or…the Cosmos could have checked their own website, where their “Heritage” section explicitly states that Pele’s number was retired at halftime of that game.

Maybe there’s another way to honor a number that doesn’t involve retiring it, which the Cosmos can’t do with the “10″ because the “10″ is already retired, and something got twisted in Savarese’s statement, even though he should probably know that the Cosmos retired Pele’s number 36 years ago.

Let’s hope so, anyway.


The Cosmos have reached out to assure us that Savarese’s words were taken incorrectly, and that everyone at the Cosmos certainly knows that Pele’s number is retired. We have no reason not to believe them. False alarm.

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