The best airline in the world and the best football player in history joined forces at a glittering function in Dubai on Thursday.

Pele, the three-time World Cup winner for Brazil and scorer of more than a thousand goals in his phenomenal career, has now become Emirates‘ global ambassador.

Three days after being honoured by Fifa at the Ballon d’Or ceremony with a lifetime achievement award, this announcement of having the famous Black Pearl as the global ambassador will surely help take the world’s leading airlines to even greater heights.

And when you consider the next World Cup in Pele’s home country Brazil is just six months away, this move looks as crisp and delightful as the zillion tricks Pele performed on the football fields in front of bewildered rivals and mesmerised fans.

“Emirates is one of the most outstanding brands in global sports today. Having just flown on Emirates’ A380 from Zurich to Dubai, I can say from personal experience that it is also an outstanding airline,” the former Santos striker said at the function in Dubai on Thursday.

“It would be great if Emirates would fly the A380 to Brazil for the Fifa World Cup! My flight was very comfortable and it was delightful to be onboard with their helpful and friendly staff. And with such an international mix of passengers, Emirates is truly a global airline just like the global game of football. Emirates is a proud supporter of sports around the world, and I am honoured to be its global ambassador.”

It wasn’t the first visit to the UAE for the 73-year-old Brazilian. Pele first came to this country with his legendary Santos team in 1973 to play a friendly match against Dubai’s Al Nasr club.

On Thursday, Emirates and Al Nasr club marked the occasion by presenting the Brazilian a photo of the two teams that was taken before the start of that 1973 game.

Mohammed Kahoor and Mohammed Al Khous, two former Al Nasr players who played in that game, were also honoured at the function.

Pele says he still remembers that game. “I forgot what the score was, but I could tell you that it wasn’t an easy match for us — even though we had some all-time great Brazilian players in that Santos team,” Pele said.

“Dubai has changed so much from when I first visited in the ’70s. Now, obviously I am staying in a much better hotel. I see a thriving city with great infrastructure for tourism and business, capable of welcoming the world and connecting with the world. My wish is that the Fifa World Cup will help unleash and showcase this same potential for Brazil.”

Shaikh Majid Al Mualla, Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Emirates Airline, welcomed the iconic Brazilian player to the Emirates family. “Pele is a global icon. He is recognised, respected, and an inspiration to people around the world. He represents the best values of ‘the beautiful game’ of football, not only because he was a great player, but also because he uses the power of sports to connect people — with each other, with communities, and with opportunities,” he said.

“In many ways, Pele stands for the same values that Emirates does. He is the ideal global ambassador and we are thrilled that we will be partnering with him.”

Photo Credit: Brazil¥s soccer legend Pele shakes hands with Nabil Sultan, second from left, vice president of Emirates Airline. Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press