FLASHBACK: “Achieving Ceasefire In Biafran War My Greatest Pride” – Pele

Football legend, Pele who recently died at the age of 85, stated before he passed away that one of his greatest pride was achieving a ceasefire during a civil war in Nigeria.

It was back on February 4, 1969, when Pele achieved a momentary ceasefire in the Nigerian Civil War. Also known as the Biafran War, it lasted from July 5, 1967, to January 13, 1970, and claimed nearly one million lives.

It was in the midst of that period that Brazilian football giants Santos landed in Benin City to face a Central West Stateside.

Two years ago, Pele took to Twitter to label the ceasefire during the Nigerian Civil War as one of his “greatest pride”.

“I learned as a kid, with my father Dondinho, that football is an instrument for good,” Pele wrote.

“He taught me that lesson when he saw me dribbling a weaker opponent without any need and asked me to always respect my rivals. I took that for life, always using my talent for love and peace.

“I always tried to send this message, as a football player and as a man. One of my greatest pride was to have stopped a war in Nigeria, in 1969, in one of the many football tours that Santos made around the world.

“We were asked to play a friendly match on Benin City, in the middle of a Civil War, but Santos was so beloved that they agreed on a ceasefire on the matchday. It became known as the day that ‘Santos stopped the war’.

“I always tried to send this message, as a football player and as a man. One of my greatest pride was to have stopped a war in Nigeria, in 1969, in one the many football tours that Santos made around the world.”

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Pele’s former teammate, Ramos Delgado recalled that the war had to halt for the game to take place.

“Pele’s power was incredible. I remember when we went to Nigeria and that country was at war, and the guys stopped the war one day so Santos could play,” Delgado said.

The proudest moment US magazine TIME reported back in 2005 was when the Nigerian government and the Republic of Biafra accepted a three-day ceasefire.

“Although diplomats and emissaries had tried in vain for two years to stop the fighting in what was then Africa’s bloodiest civil war, the 1969 arrival in Nigeria of Brazilian soccer legend Pele brought a three-day ceasefire,” read the TIME article.

“Both the government and the breakaway Republic of Biafra accepted a truce to allow his team, Santos, to play two exhibition matches against local teams. For 72 hours, football was more important than war.”