“Football is a whole skill to itself. A whole world. A whole universe to itself. Me love it because you have to be skillful to play it! Freedom! Football is freedom.”
Bob Marley spoke those lines in 1979, two years before his life was cut short by melanoma, revealing his passion for the world’s game, or what we call “soccer” here in America. Casual fans might not know this, but Marley followed Brazilian football closely, revered Pele, made the sport part of his daily routine, and when he traveled to Rio de Janeiro in 1980, he took part in a now legendary match on musician Chico Buarque’s private pitch. Team A consisted of Marley, Junior Marvin (member of the Wailers), Paulo César Caju (member of the Brazil 1970 squad), Toquinho (Brazilian musician), Chico Buarque and Jacob Miller (lead singer of Inner Circle). Team B featured Alceu Valença (Brazilian musician), Chicão (member of Jorge Ben’s band) and four staff members from Island Records, recalls Russ Slater in Sounds and Colours. The short clip above shows Marley scoring a goal, despite being well into his battle with melanoma.
In the second clip above, you can watch footage of Marley dribbling the ball a little more. At Retronaut, you’ll find umpteen photos of Marley in his football glory.