Pele joined the New York Cosmos in 1975, a year after announcing that he will retire from soccer following his last game for Santos on October 2, 1974.

He has written in his autobiography that the decision to come back from retirement and join the New York Cosmos was prompted by financial difficulties. However, the key man behind the move was Clive Toye, a British expatriate in the US, former journalist, and the former president of Cosmos.

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Who is Clive Toye? 

Clive Toye was born on November 23, 1932, in Devonport, Plymouth, in the United Kingdom. He was a sports writer for Express and Echo, a newspaper in Exeter. He later became the Chief Sports Writer for the Daily Express.

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He moved to the United States in 1967 to take the position of general manager of the Baltimore Bays.

Later, he served as the inaugural general manager of the North American Soccer League’s New York Cosmos.

It was during his stint at New York Cosmos that he bought Pele to America with the aim popularizing the sport in the country. It was a move fraught with difficulties as the Brazilian legend was at that time banned by Brazil to play in soccer leagues of other countries.

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After the 1960 World Cup, Pele’s performance caught the eye of many European clubs, especially in Italy and Spain. Reports say that at least two clubs – Juventus and Real Madrid tried to sign Pele. However, he was declared a national treasure by Brazil and was banned from playing in any other country. 

When Toye tried to sign him for Cosmos, Pele had already hung his boots. But he got into a lot of financial difficulties after the properties he invested in had all suffered losses and the legend was effectively rendered bankrupt. 

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Toye, along with the then president of the United States, Henry Kissinger, negotiated the star’s entry into North America. 

Toye famously told Pele that if he goes to Europe, he will win a lot of championships, but if he went to the United States, he will win the hearts of an entire nation. Many say that was the final selling point for the soccer legend.