London – Insisting “everyone needs money,” Pele took a lingering look at a lifetime of medals, trinkets and memorabilia that auctioneers hope will generate around $7 million.
Everything from a replica of the World Cup — a 1970 gift from FIFA after winning the soccer showpiece for a third time — to jerseys, boots and awards are on sale.
And Pele was at an art gallery on The Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday whipping up interest in the three-day auction next week.
The role of salesman is not unfamiliar to Pele.
From luxury watches to fast-food chains, the Brazil great has made the most of his illustrious playing career by promoting companies who want to latch onto the most iconic name from 20th century soccer.
Now 75, Pele is ready to see cherished items amassed over decades dispersed around the globe — from museums to private collections.
“Everybody needs money, everybody has to have some money to live. Fortunately in this case, it doesn’t need to be for my future, for my life,” Pele told The Associated Press.
“I would (have) made a lot of money to be a coach because I had a lot of proposals. I didn’t want to be a coach.”
Some of the proceeds will go to a Brazilian hospital but Pele declined to give the percentage.
“This is much more important than (the items) staying in my house,” Pele said of the auction.
Pele achieved enough in his playing career.
The centerpiece of the auction is a replica of the Jules Rimet Trophy previously handed to World Cup winning teams. Auctioneers hope it will raise up to £1 million ($1.5 million) next week.
“The trophy was like my son, like my family,” Pele said.