New York Cosmos 1975 (Scoop)

At a chaotic press conference at the Big Apple's famous presidential hang-out, the 21 Club, the Cosmos announced the transfer coup of the century when they unveiled the three-times World Cup winner as their latest recruit. "We had superstars in the United States but nothing at the level of Pele," says John O'Reilly, the club's media spokesman. "Everyone wanted to touch him, shake his hand, get a photo with him."

The impact of Pele's signing was seismic. Before, they had given away tickets with Burger King vouchers and bumper stickers. Now, they had to lock the gates when the ground reached its 22,500 capacity. "There must have been another 50,000 turned away," remembers the Cosmos coach Gordon Bradley.

By 1977, the Cosmos had dropped the New York prefix and moved to Giants Stadium in New Jersey, where more stellar recruits (including Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto, Giorgio Chinaglia and Johan Neeskens) would join what had become the most glamorous team in world football. Though the front pages of New York's papers were hogged by the city's battle against bankruptcy or by another Son of Sam murder, the back pages were now reserved for the Cosmos. "We transcended everything, every culture, every socio-economic boundary," maintains Messing. "We were international, we were European, we were cool, we were Americans from the Bronx. We were everything to everybody."



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