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Pele signs the shirt of one of the ten lucky fans to get up close and personal with the football legends. (Photo: SSC/ Bibek Gurung)

Chants of “Woo Ahh Cantona” and “Pele, Pele” rang around the Jalan Besar Stadium as football legends Pele and Eric Cantona, together with former American international Cobi Jones created an electrifying atmosphere for the close to 3,000 fans who came to catch a glimpse of their football heroes at the Courts Young Lions match against Geylang United.

 

The football legends' visit to Singapore was a collaboration between Young Lions’ sponsor Courts and the New York Cosmos as part of their 2011 Asian Tour. Pele, who played for the New York Cosmos between 1975 and 1977, is now the club’s Honorary President and spoke about hoping to continue giving back to the game which has given him so much.

 

“I hope to share my experiences with young players,” said the man often referred to as the greatest players to ever have played. “I want to share not just about football, but about life as well.”

 

Following Pele, the man who became “King Eric” at Manchester United’s Theatre of Dreams, Eric Cantona answered questions from the media at the press conference prior to the kick off of the S.League game. Speaking about his plans for the club as the Director of Football, Cantona shared his visions of a New York Cosmos with players from a productive academy.

 

“Sure, we will need to start out buying players,” said the former French international. “But hopefully there will be a day when we can have young players developed from our academy coming up to our first team and maybe even from Singapore.”

 

The presence of the legends also inspired an exciting match where the Young Lions just edged out their opponents 3-2, courtesy of two goals from playmaker Shahfiq Ghani.  For his efforts, he was awarded with the Courts Young Lions Man of the Match award which saw him receiving an autographed jersey from Pele, though the even greater honour might have been being personally picked by Eric Cantona himself, who maybe even saw a little bit of himself in the Young Lion who will turn 19 on the 17th of this month.