8th June 2016
When you get a phone call asking if you’re available to interview Pelé, you make yourself available.
I never know what the next job will be or what opportunities it will bring. Being chosen and entrusted to interview some of the greatest in sport is pretty awesome. I’m always very grateful and take the responsibility very seriously.
I get nervous. I always have. I get scared and I can’t eat. I pace, generally with a strong coffee in hand and I try to stay calm as the excitement builds.
With all big names their security is tracked and I get regular updates as to their location.
“Pelé has left the hotel” – “David Beckham is en route” – “Messi is in the building”, some of the phrases I will never forget.
I’m notified at their every turn and given a literal count down of their arrival. I always get to brief the guest, running through my questions and making sure they are comfortable before we go live. But with Pelé this wasn’t possible.
Pelé was to arrive through the front entrance and come straight to his seat and begin the interview. Straight away. No prep, no freshen up – just Go! Pelé is a legend; a pro at the media game and now at 75 he’s probably done more media interviews than anyone on this planet. Pelé needs no preparation and he was an utter joy to interview.
I was given free reign over his life story and allowed to write my own interview. Pelé’s people were so chilled they didn’t even request my questions prior to the interview. I cannot express enough how much of a rarity this is. Pelé’s self confidence and comfort with the media is something to admire.
I mean, I’ve had members of reality tv programmes demand questions changed and send dozens of emails about what I can or cannot say in their presence. Pelé however didn’t bat an eyelid. We laughed, hugged and talked about the past, present and future.
Over the ten minutes I had with the King he told several personal stories and entertained the room so naturally. He made everyone feel comfortable, most of all me and was hands down the most wonderful interview I’ve ever done.
Meeting the greatest football player in the history of the game wasn’t surreal. It was very very real. Comprehending his achievements is tough. His records are so far above the current greats that the figures become incomprehensible and he did it on rough pitches sometimes shoeless.
His records are unlikely to ever be beaten.