Football legend Pele touched down in Gabon on Tuesday to grace the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations final of February 12 at the Amitie Stadium in Libreville, upon the invitation of Gabon’s president Ali Bongo.
LIBREVILLE, February 9, 2012 (AFP) - Pele insisted here Thursday that there will never be another Pele as his parents had thrown away the cast.
The football icon was speaking at the unveiling of a statue in his honour at the L'Amitie stadium in Libreville which on Sunday will stage the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.
"Who is better than Pele?" said Gabon president Ali Bongo Ondimba at the inauguration.
In answer Pele joked at a press conference: "To see another Pele being born would be difficult. Perhaps there will be a player better than Pele, one similar to Pele, but a new Pele is impossible - my father and mother have stopped the machine."
Pele then remembered a trip to Gabon in 1967 with his club Santos.
"There was a civil war in the region. The manager and director of Santos told me 'you can't go there, there's a war. You must be mad. We stopped in Dakar and were to play here (in Libreville) and Kinshasa.
"The father (Omar Bongo) of the president (Ali Bongo) was president at the time. He said: 'We're going to stop the war because we want to see Pele. And the president stopped the war. It was fantastic. They stopped, we came and we left."
Santos and Pele did take part in an African tournament taking in Gabon and Zaire in June 1967.