Brazilian football legend Pele, real name Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is likely to visit Dhaka in the latter half of February to mark the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Cholo Kheli Trust, a non-profit social organization, has taken the initiative inspired by 'Mujib Borsho' to honour the contribution of the Swadhin Bangla football team during the Liberation War of Bangladesh as well as to regain the lost glory of the country's football.
Confirming Pele's invitational visit, the Chairman and Founder Trustee of Cholo Kheli Trust Ashique Rahman said, "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the Greatest Bengali of All Time. He is not only our Father of the Nation but one of the greatest leaders of world history. It is well-known that away from the field of politics, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's great love in the field of sport was football and Pele was the game's superstar during that time. He is another such global legend, so who better to grace this once-in-a-lifetime occasion of 100 years of Bangabandhu. He was the best player during his time. Besides, Pele's tour will help us to regain the lost glory of the our football"
"We have already informed the State Ministry for Youth and Sports and Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF). Both gave their consent and agreed to provide us all types of assistance including financial aid and security," Ashique told UNB on Monday.
Earlier, Pele's Bangladesh tour was postponed twice. First he was scheduled to visit last October and later rescheduled for this month.
Masud Jamil Khan, Co-Founder of Cholo Kheli Trust, is maintaining close communications with Pele's agents.
About the delay, Ashique said, "Securing sponsorship was the main reason of delay. Even so, we are dealing with it."
"Pele will visit in late February. It will be a two-day visit, during which he will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, visit Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi, and then witness a friendly football match in which Swadhin Bangla football team & Friends will take on the Footy Hags team & Friends," Ashique added.
Cholo Kheli Trust started its journey in July last year and was officially formed last September. The non-profit social organization mainly focuses on the fields of sports, education, health and information.
Pele is the only player to have won the World Cup thrice (1958, 1962, 1970), and is widely acknowledged as one of the two greatest footballers of –FIFA rated him as number 1, ahead of Argentine legend Diego Armando Maradona.
Meanwhile, the BFF also tried to bring another living legend of the world football and World Cup-winning Argentine captain, Diego Maradona in Dhaka during the 'Mujib Borsho' marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation.
Earlier, former Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar made a courtesy visit to Dhaka last week as a part of the campaign for the Bangabandhu Gold Cup Football Tournament.