Brazil football legend Pele is set to make a return to India after 38 years, as he will be the chief guest for Atletico de Kolkata's inaugural home game of the second season of the Indian Super League.
The Santos phenomenon, who lifted the FIFA World Cup with Brazil on three occasions, has confirmed his presence at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata where the defending ISL champions take on Kerala Blasters on 13 October, in what will be a rematch of the ISL final last year.
It is also reported that a meeting with Indian cricket stalwarts Sourav Ganguly, co-owner, Atletico de Kolkata, and Sachin Tendulkar, co-owner of Kerala Blasters, is on the cards.
"It is such an honour for me to be able to make this trip. India is a very special country and I have good memories from my time there many years ago, the fans were fantastic," the 74-year-old said in a statement.
"I remember I played in Kolkata in 1977 with my team New York Cosmos. Thank you for the invitation to be your guest."
Pele, who was recognised as the FIFA Player of the Century in 2000, last came to India on 24 September, 1977 as his team New York Cosmos played out a 2-2 draw against Kolkata heavyweights Mohun Bagan at Eden Gardens.
"India is a very passionate football nation, and I look forward to meeting a whole new generation of fans while continuing to spread the overwhelming love that I have for this beautiful gamem," Pele added.
Confirming Pele's presence for Atletico's game against the Blasters, ATK co-owner Utsav Parekh told PTI: "He's confirmed to be the guest of honour for the season's first home match... We're all excited."
The former footballer will also attend the final of the Subroto Cup - the much-revered grassroots football tournament held in India - on 16 October. And in an exclusive video message, Pele stated that he is excited to attend 'the largest young football tournament in Asia' to take place in New Delhi next month.