Pele robbed at gunpoint by youths

FOOTBALL legend Pele was held at gunpoint by a gang of youths in Brazil who robbed him of his gold necklace, mobile phone and watch, media reports said.

The robbery, which took place on June 13 but was not made public until yesterday, occurred near the city of Santos in southern Sao Paulo state, the news magazine Veja reported on its website.

Pele was riding in the passenger seat of a car when it was stopped near a slum by at least 10 young men armed with pistols and knives, the report said.

Veja said Pele did not report the crime to police.

Both Veja and the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper quoted an unidentified Pele spokesman as saying the 67-year-old star told friends about the robbery while attending last week’s soccer match between Brazil and Argentina.

Pele, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, helped Brazil win three of its five World Cup titles. He was legally declared a national treasure by the Brazilian government and in 1999 was voted Athlete of the Century by the world’s national Olympic committees.

When the assailants approached his car, Pele rolled down the window and told them who he was, but they robbed him anyway, according to the Veja report.

Estado de S. Paulo reported the robbers gave back some of the items after learning their target’s identity.

The robbery took place when Pele was en route to his beach house on the coast near Santos, where he played professional soccer for nearly 20 years, the reports said.

Armed gangs often set up makeshift road blocks on Brazilian roads, halting traffic and robbing motorists.

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