Playing with Pele a ‘Dream Come True’ for Ridley Park Man

Bob Rigby with Pele
Image via Bob Rigby
Bob Rigby with Pele

Back in 1975, Ridley Park native Bob Rigby found himself playing with Pele in Sweden as a last-minute goalkeeper for the New York Cosmos, writes Matt Breen for The Philadelphia Inquirer

He had been working as a substitute teacher while playing for the Atoms at Veterans Stadium.

Rigby won over Pele in the first game of his four-country tour with the Cosmos. He stopped more than 20 shots against the more powerful Maimo FF.

Pele was already a global icon with three World Cup wins when he joined the Cosmos of the North American Soccer League in 1975 for the final three years of his career.

Rigby starred at Ridley High School and East Stroudsburg University before making the first pick with the Atoms in the 1973 NASL draft.

He described Pele as a gracious and phenomenal man. Pele died Dec. 29 at age 82.

“I don’t feel any differently and perhaps more so now than when I was that star-struck kid trying to pinch myself, ‘Like you have to be kidding me?’ It was literally a dream come true and it still is,” Rigby said.

Read more about Bob Rigby and his soccer career with Pele and the New York Cosmos in The Philadelphia Inquirer.


The Dec. 29, 2022, death of soccer legend Pele was national news.

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