For a brief period in the 70's and 80's New York was the place to be for football's biggest stars. The New York Cosmos were at the forefront of the North American Soccer League's (NASL) attempt to bring the game into the hearts and homes of the American public.
Their main tactic was to bring the most famous names in world football to Giants Stadium and hope the fans would follow. Established in 1971 the Cosmos were backed by then Warner Bros. president Steve Ross, giving them the financial clout to attract players like Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and of course the great Pele.
Although many of the stars who came to play in America were nearing the end of their careers, the sight of so many greats in such a dream team was quite something. As were the glamorous tales that accompanied the club's heyday in the late 70's with rumours of legendary nights in the 'Studio 54' nightclub and players being treated more like rock stars than athletes.
In their history the Cosmos won five NASL Championships and seven division titles but unfortunately the fairytale could not last forever and the club folded after a whirlwind 14 years. Warner sold the Cosmos in the early 80's and the new owners were unable to match the investment put in previously. At the same time the NASL was in trouble and closed in 1984 after over-extending itself. The Cosmos continued for another year as part of the Major Indoor Soccer League before dissolving in 1985.
The club was at its peak in 1977 with Pele and Italian striker Giorgio Chinaglia leading the line and World Cup winners Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto marshalling the defence. That was Pele's last season before retiring and fittingly the Cosmos scooped the NASL Outdoor Championship. After his final game for the club, Pele's number ten shirt was retired in honour of his services to the club.