Sat, 06 Mar 2021

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Santos manager Alexi Stival has thanked Brazilian football legend Pele for inspiring his players to advance to the Copa Libertadores final.

Pele spoke with the Santos squad by video link before their 3-0 home win over Boca Juniors on Wednesday, a result that set up an all-Brazilian final against Palmeiras.

"I'd like to thank the King for what he did. He spoke live with the group before we got to the stadium. And when he speaks to us, there is no stopping us," said Stival, who is better known by his nickname, Cuca.

"He (Pele) participated in our victory and motivated us despite the state that he is in," Cuca added, alluding to the 83-year-old's fragile health.

Pele played for Santos from 1956 to 1974, scoring 643 goals in 656 matches. He led the club to back-to-back Copa Libertadores titles in 1962 and 1963.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar, who began his career at Santos before moving to Barcelona in 2013, also showed support for his former club by posting on social media before and after Wednesday's match.

The Copa Libertadores final will be played at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium on January 30.

Santos are bidding to win South America's most important club trophy for a fourth time while Palmeiras are vying for their second triumph.

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