Pele Brazil football shirt set to score

The last Brazil national team shirt prepared for the late football legend Pele ahead of his final game for his country is set for auction in Derbyshire.

Pele, nicknamed the King, donned his boots for his farewell international match 52 years ago on July 18, 1971 when Brazil faced Yugoslavia in Rio de Janeiro. It was a momentous day for him and for millions of football fans worldwide.

Pele's number 10 Brazil football shirt
Credit: Hansons

A packed crowd chanted Pele’s name and banks of sports photographers mobbed him on the pitch, jolting each other in a desperate bid to capture the moment his stellar national football career came to an end.  Pele played 92 games and scored 77 goals for Brazil. He is their joint top goal-scorer.

The match ended in a 2-2 draw but the result was overshadowed by its significance and an immense outpouring of love for the footballing genius. Brazilians celebrated their hero and said thank you. But Pele had a special thank-you in mind too.

Two shirts were prepared for him for that final game – one long sleeve, the other short sleeve. He choose to wear the latter but had a plan for the other one. After the match he gifted his spare number 10 shirt to Brazil team masseur Abilio Jose de Silva, nicknamed Nocaute Jack (Knockout Jack). He was an  integral part of the national squad’s operation from the late 1960s through to 1994 – and Pele wanted to show his gratitude.

Front of Pele's Brazil number 10 football shirt
Credit: Hansons

Now that unworn, match-prepared long sleeve Brazil number 10 shirt, complete with letter of authenticity from Nocaute Jack’s daughter Silvia Maria Fonseca da Silva, will be offered by Hansons Auctioneers on February 15, estimate £20,000-£30,000.

It’s owner, a 33-year-old restaurant manager from Shropshire, was prompted to consider parting with it after witnessing the phenomenal outpouring of love for Pele following his death at the age of 82 on December 29, 2022. He hopes it may go to a football museum for fans to see and enjoy.

He said: “It’s been an amazing piece of football memorabilia to be custodian of. I bought it from a private collector in 2020. I now feel it deserves a bigger stage, perhaps back home in Brazil. As well as being Pele’s final Brazil shirt, it honours Nocaute Jack’s contribution to Brazilian football and his friendship with Pele. They must have had a strong relationship, otherwise I doubt Pele would have given him such a significant shirt. Nocaute Jack features in the incredible Netflix documentary, Pele. As head masseur he looked after a vast number of Brazilian footballing legends from the famous 1970s team through to Socrates and Zico in the 1980s, culminating in tending to a youthful 18-year-old Ronaldo at the victorious USA 1994 World Cup. ”

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “When you see this shirt you can’t help but imagine Pele’s emotions in the dressing room after that last game for Brazil. Amid the wild celebrations and affection from fans, he thought of others.  His masseur, Nocaute Jack, the man who helped to keep him supple, received a very special gift.

“Pele is the greatest footballer the world has ever known and his final shirt from his final game for Brazil deserves a fitting resting place, preferably on public view, perhaps in a sports museum.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, with the Pele Brazil shirt
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, with the Pele shirt – credit Mark Laban Hansons

“It’s been treasured for more than half a century and is in immaculate condition. The shirt was passed to Nocaute Jack’s daughter. It was sold to a private collector in 2016 and, later, to our vendor. This is the first time it has ever come to auction.

“It represents the end of an era for an illustrious player.  It also marks the enormous contribution Pele made to his national team and football as a whole. He was adored by millions and inspired millions. Like all football fans I was deeply saddened by his passing. He was a genius, a tribute I paid to him on Twitter.

“Fellow football legend Cristiano Ronaldo called him ‘the eternal king, deservedly so as Pele’s impact went far beyond football. He carried out many good works. His message to a troubled world was ‘love, love, love forever’.

“In the wake of the flood of tributes and memories sparked by Pele’s loss, our client decided this important shirt deserved to be seen, not hidden away in a private family home in England. I feel privileged to be given the task of helping it find a fitting final resting place. I hope to do Pele  proud.”

Brazilian striker Pele was labelled ‘the greatest’ footballer by FIFA.  In 1999, he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and he was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.

In 2000, Pele was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics. His 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, including friendlies, is recognised as a Guinness World Record.

He began playing for Santos at 15 and the Brazil national team at 16. During his international career, he won three FIFA World Cups in 1958, 1962 and 1970, the only player to do so. He was nicknamed O Rei (The King) following the 1958 tournament.

The Pele shirt will be offered in Hansons Auctioneers’ Football and Sports Memorabilia Auction.