Pele to return to Dubai next month
The club, who became world renowned in the 1970s for their star-studded line-up featuring Pele and fellow football luminaries such as Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto, will be based at the UAE Football Association’s Al Khawaneej training complex.
The news of the two-week trip, the exact dates of which are yet to be finalised, comes just over a month after Emirates airline unveiled Pele as a global ambassador.
The Cosmos, who reformed last year after 30 years and for which Pele represented for two years between 1975 and 1977, will play matches against three Arabian Gulf League teams to be announced at a later date.
Pele will join the club, who announced a shirt sponsorship deal with Emirates last June, for part of the trip.
“We are extremely excited about this trip, our first time in the UAE,” Cosmos chairman Seamus O’Brien said. “This is a fantastic opportunity for our players and coaches to train in world-class facilities and experience the magnificent hospitality of Dubai.”
“The coaching staff and players are very much looking forward to this tour,” head coach Giovanni Savarese added. “It’s always good to travel in the off-season to help build camaraderie on the team, but this is a special trip that will help us prepare to defend our NASL [North American Soccer League] championship.”
Pele first visited the UAE in 1973 when his Brazilian club side Santos took on Dubai club Al Nasr.
He passed through Dubai twice after that, his most recent visit before last month being just over five years ago.
Speaking at his unveiling as Emirates’ ambassador at the Westin Hotel last month, Pele said: “I thank God for having always put me on the winning team, and it seems I’ll be on the winning team one more time with Emirates airline as my teammates.”
Following the tour of the Middle East, the Cosmos will return home to New York for their final preparations before the NASL spring season begins on April 13.
The club was founded in 1971, spending 14 seasons in the North American Soccer League and winning five Soccer Bowl trophies.
It was an era of unprecedented glitz and glamour for football in the United States due to the sell-out crowds and global acclaim Pele and co enjoyed.
The Cosmos reformed in August last year and went on to win the 2013 North American Soccer League Fall Season.
They ended their inaugural season by winning the 2013 Soccer Bowl with a 1-0 victory against the Atlanta Silverbacks in November.