The Box scores with Pelé display - Museums Association

The Box scores with Pelé display

Venue celebrates 50th anniversary of the Brazilian football legend’s appearance in Plymouth
Pelé’s shirt to go on display 50 years after he played in Plymouth
Pelé’s shirt to go on display 50 years after he played in Plymouth The Box, Plymouth

A shirt worn by Pelé has gone on display at The Box in Plymouth to mark the 50th anniversary of the Brazilian football legend’s appearance in a game held in the Devon city.

Pelé and his Santos FC team played a friendly against Plymouth Argyle on 14 March 1973. The match was attended by 37,000 fans and the Devon team won the game 3-2. 

At the end of the match, Pelé gave his shirt to Plymouth Argyle defender Johnny Hore, who has loaned it to The Box, the city’s £47m museum, gallery and archive.

Pelé's shirt – The Box, Plymouth

The shirt will be on display until 23 April. Visitors can also see a shirt worn by substitute Vicenté. Pelé scored a penalty after Vicenté was brought down in the box late in the game.

“We’re really excited to be marking the 50th anniversary of this unforgettable football match by displaying these iconic shirts and really grateful to Argyle legends Johnny Hore and Derek Rickard for loaning them to us until the end of the Easter holidays,” said Adam Milford, the senior engagement and learning officer at The Box.


“We hope fans will come in and take a look at this reminder of one of the world’s footballing greats, and a match they or people they know may have even been at. 37,000 people saw the game when it took place, it would be amazing if we got that many visitors while the shirts are on display.”

Two match-day programmes dating from 14 and 31 March 1973 also feature. The 31 March programme is a Santos Souvenir Special and is among the items from 85 boxes of material that have just been transferred to The Box from the Plymouth Argyle Heritage Archive. The items include an almost complete run of home and away programmes spanning 1945-2022.

The Box will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Santos’s visit to the city with a new episode of its The Box on Screen series. The episode will feature clips from the match as well as other archive footage of Plymouth Argyle over the years.

The Pelé display is the latest example of UK museums holding exhibitions about football. 

Last year, the Museum of London held Harry Kane: I Want to Play Football. This display featured personal items, family photos and iconic objects from the striker’s career with Spurs and England.

And National Museums Liverpool has just closed Art of the Terraces at the Walker Art Gallery. The exhibition looked at the the culture of football “casuals”, which began on Britain’s football terraces in the late 1970s.

And in December last year, London’s National Portrait Gallery announced a collaboration with a foundation run by England and Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling. This creative youth engagement and skills development programme, called Making of Me, is designed to raise the career aspirations of young people interested in expressing themselves through art.

And plans are moving ahead in Wales for its first dedicated museum of football, which recently received a £5.45m funding boost from the Welsh Government. The museum will be housed within the existing Wrexham Museum, which is also undergoing a full renovation. It will display Wales’ national football collection and showcase a wide range of themes, including football in Welsh language communities, and fan culture.

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