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Former goalkeeper Ado, who feared taking Pelé’s thousandth goal, says goodbye to the King

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“All that’s missing is for him to score those four goals on me today.”

It was the thought that tormented Eduardo Roberto Stinghen, Ado, that Tuesday night, November 4, 1969.

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Coming from Londrina-PR, recently signed by Corinthians, the then goalkeeper would face Santos de Pelé at the Pacaembu stadium.

The four goals he talks about were the ones missing for the King to reach what was recorded as his thousandth.

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It was only Ado’s third game for Corinthians and he was still fresh at the club. The two previous games had been Timão’s victories, both by 2-0, against Botafogo and Fluminense.

“Imagine the situation, the pressure I felt. I was there, 23 years old, newly arrived at the club. I thought: ‘I’m screwed, the guys are going to send me back to Paraná today’. newspaper about that game was ‘Ado versus Pelé’. There was a lot of pressure”, recalls the goalkeeper, who the following year would be called up for the World Cup in Mexico as a second substitute.

He was in front of the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, in São Paulo, after learning of Pelé’s death, this Thursday (29).

At Sheet, the title of one of the reports about the game that November 1969 was “Pelé has already scored 4 at Corinthians”, recalling a 1964 match that ended 7-4 for the team from the coast. On the same page, an opinion article: “Suddenly, an idol: Ado”.

That night’s match ended 4-1 for Corinthians. And Pele didn’t score.

In that match Ado had his first contact with Pelé in addition to the plays they played.

“Still on the lawn, he came and said to me: ‘Look, take care. It looks like Saldanha [João Saldanha, técnico da seleção à época] is watching you, said that you leave the goal well. I think you’re going to be drafted’. I almost didn’t believe it,” he says.

A lump in the throat interrupts the ex-goalkeeper’s speech for a few seconds. He wipes away the tears and continues. “That marked me very, very much”.

Ado has nothing but praise for his former executioner. “He was polite, kind, humble… He could score two, three, four goals in a game, but he never made fun of his opponents. I never saw him belittle anyone”, he says, his voice cracking.

He says that Pelé has always encouraged younger players, on and off the field. “At the 1970 World Cup, he was excited, he picked up the guitar and went to play in his teammates’ room.”

As a substitute, Ado trained against the national team’s main attack. He says that Pelé always reassured him.
When there was a split ball, he always avoided the confrontation and jumped over it. “Goleirão, don’t worry, you won’t be divided”, was what the King told him.

“For us players, Pelé was everything, he was an inspiration”.
Ado remembers a scene before the game against England in the 1970 World Cup.

Pelé entered the locker room before everyone else, laid down on the stretcher that was used for massage, covered his eyes with his arm and stayed there in silence. “I think he was there imagining the game, you know? Then Brito [zagueiro do time] came up to me and said: ‘Don’t talk to him now, he’s thinking about the game’. He had this mania, it was really cool. It seems that he made a prediction of what the game was going to be like.”

And play against him?
“There was nothing to do. He would dismantle whatever scheme had been planned.”

Ado remembers that when Pelé went to play for Cosmos, in the USA, he invited him to go along. He refused, but says he later regretted it. “Wow, I could have played with him there. Too bad.”

And the goals he could have taken from the King in that year of 1969?

“If I had conceded those four goals, I think I would even embrace him in the last one. It would even be an honor. Pelé will always be our eternal King. He was a brother, friend, consultant.

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