The King of Football: Pelé’s shirt to go on display at The Box 50 years after he played in Plymouth

The King of Football: Pelé’s shirt to go on display at The Box 50 years after he played in Plymouth

9 March 2023

Pelé’s iconic number 10 football shirt, worn when he played at Home Park 50 years ago on 14 March 1973, is going on display at The Box from next Tuesday.

The date marks 50 years to the day when the man considered by many to be the world’s greatest footballer and his Santos FC team played a friendly against Plymouth Argyle – and lost 3-2!

Os Santásticos were in town as part of an international tour and it proved to be a night to remember for the 37,000 fans who saw the match. Argyle raced to a 3-0 lead at half-time with goals from Mike Dowling, Derek Rickard and Jimmy Hinch. Late goals from Pelé and Edu made it 3-2 in the end. The game was the chance of a lifetime for many to see some of the biggest footballing stars on the planet.

At the end of the match Pelé gave his shirt to Plymouth Argyle defender Johnny Hore, who has now kindly loaned it to The Box. Visitors can see it on display from 14 March until 23 April alongside a shirt worn by substitute Vicenté. Vicenté was brought down in the box late in the game, leading to the penalty Pelé scored.

Two match day programmes dating from 14 and 31 March 1973, will also feature in the case. The 31 March programme is a ‘Santos Souvenir Special’. It’s one item from 85 boxes of material that have just been transferred to The Box from the Plymouth Argyle Heritage Archive. The material, which is a brilliant addition to the city’s public archives and will be available for research, includes an almost complete run of home and away programmes spanning 1945-2022.

Adam Milford, Senior Engagement and Learning Officer said:

We’re really excited to be marking the 50th anniversary of this unforgettable football match by displaying these iconic shirts and really grateful to Argyle legends Johnny Hore and Derek Rickard for loaning them to us until the end of the Easter holidays. We hope fans will come in and take a look at this reminder of one of the world’s footballing greats, and a match they or people they know may have even been at. 37,000 people saw the game when it took place, it would be amazing if we got that many visitors while the shirts are on display!

L-R: Former Plymouth Argyle players Derek Rickard, Johnny Hore and Steve Davey

The Box will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Santos’ visit to the city with a brand new episode of its The Box on Screen series. The episode, which has been made with former Argyle players Derek Rickard and Johnny Hore and BBC commentator Steve Davey (pictured above from left to right), will feature clips from the match as well as some other brilliant archive footage of Plymouth Argyle over the years. It will go live on YouTube at 7pm on 14 March.

Between now and 22 March, anyone who signs up to The Box’s mailing list will be in with a chance to win a signed Argyle matchball plus four tickets for any EFL League One game at Home Park this season (subject to availability).

More items from the recently acquired Plymouth Argyle Heritage Archive will be displayed in the Active Archives gallery this summer.