Pele avoids robbery as thieves show respect

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The Independent Football

Armed criminals attempting to hold up a car at gunpoint in São Paulo backed down on discovering that Pele was sitting in the back seat, an aide to the player said yesterday.

Armed criminals attempting to hold up a car at gunpoint in São Paulo backed down on discovering that Pele was sitting in the back seat, an aide to the player said yesterday.

Pele's car had stopped at traffic lights in a prosperous neighbourhood when the two would-be thieves approached the driver, brandished a gun and demanded the occupants' money and valuables.

Jose Fornos Rodrigues, the driver of the car, said: "When Pele took off his cap the thieves looked at him, gave him the thumbs-up sign, apologised and walked off." Pele, who was with his wife, often wears a baseball cap to avoid being recognised.

Rodrigues said Pele had been saddened rather than angered by the incident. "When he scored his 1,000th goal 30 years ago in the Maracana, he dedicated it to the children of Brazil," he said. "He said that if the Brazilian Government had looked after the country's children they would not be on the street robbing and stealing and this would not have happened. He is very sad. It is so common nowadays that he didn't think it was a big deal."

The incident reportedly happened two weeks ago near the offices of Pele's sports marketing firm.

Pele fared better than Romario, another Brazilian forward, who lost his car in an armed robbery in Rio de Janeiro in September, despite being recognised.

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