Pele is usually the first name that comes to mind when debating the greatest footballer of all time. He was born into a humble family in Sao Paulo. He won the hearts of billions of people all over the world with his amazing football skills. Many pundits have dubbed him the first-ever global football celebrity, as well as the first footballer to be hailed the greatest of all time. In addition to public adulation, Pele won several titles at the international and club levels. He also received many individual honors. Pele's illustrious professional football career is discussed in this article.
Pele was born in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais on October 23, 1940. Edson Arantes do Nascimento is his full name. His family called him "Dico."
However, during his school days, he was given a nickname because of his mispronunciation of the name of his favorite player, Bilé. His friends began to refer to him as Pele. In his autobiography, Pele stated that the name has no meaning and merely originates from the word 'Bile.'
Pele's father was a professional footballer. Pele grew up in poverty and bolstered his income by working as a servant in tea cafes. His father taught him some football skills, and he played for many amateur teams in his youth.
Pele joined the Santos football academy when he was 15 years old. Pele's talent drew the attention of Santos FC coach Lula, who signed him to a professional contract in June 1956. He scored the first goal in Santos' 7-1 win over Corinthians on his professional debut. Pele astonished everyone with a spectacular performance in his very first match and the rest is history.
Pele was called up to the national side for the first time at the age of 16 after finishing top scorer with Santos during the 1956-1957 season. In 1957, Pele made his international debut against Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Pele scored his first international goal at the age of 16 years and nine months but Brazil lost the match 2-1 to Argentina. He is still the youngest goalscorer in the country's history.
The following year, Pele was instrumental in Brazil's first-ever FIFA World Cup victory. Brazil won the tournament by defeating Sweden 5-2 in the final, with Pele and Vava each scoring twice. 17-year-old Pele earned the best young player award for scoring the second-most goals in the 1958 World Cup.
Pele was the leading scorer with eight goals in 1959 South American Championship. Brazil won their second World Cup in 1962 in Chile. Pele was forced to withdraw from the tournament in the middle of the competition due to an injury. By that time, Pele was regarded as the best player in the world.
Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, and Inter Milan all tried hard in the early 1960s to lure him away from Santos. However, his transfer story angered Santos supporters. He remained at the club until 1974, before moving to New York Cosmos for two years.
Brazil were a hot favorite in the 1966 World Cup, and Pele was a global sensation. However, they were eliminated from the group stage, and England went on to win their first FIFA World Cup.
Pele had planned to retire from the national team after the 1966 World Cup, but he changed his mind and competed in the 1970 FIFA World Cup. Brazil won the FIFA World Cup for the third time, overcoming Italy 4-1 in the final. Pele scored a goal in the final, giving him a total of four goals in the tournament. After winning the 1970 tournament in Mexico, Brazil was allowed to keep the Jules Rimet Trophy forever according to FIFA rules.
Pele appeared in 92 international matches for Brazil, scoring 77 goals from 1957 to 1971. He was a three-time FIFA World Cup winner but never won a South American Championship (Copa America). Pele played with Santos for 18 seasons and scored 501 goals in 493 games. With Santos, he won six Brazilian leagues and 19 other championships.
Pele received several individual awards, including FIFA World Cup Best Young Player (1958), FIFA World Cup Golden Ball (1970), and South American Championship Best Player (1959). Together with Maradona, Pele was named FIFA Player of the Century.
Pele's Notable Football Records
Pele has a long list of accomplishments. Recent sensations Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have lately surpassed several of his records. However, he still has a few remarkable records.
1) Youngest World Cup winner: Pele became the youngest player to win the World Cup after Brazil won the trophy in 1958.
2) Brazil's top goal scorer: Pele is the all-time leading scorer for Brazil with 77 international goals. Neymar is now in second place With 69 goals.
3) The player with the most assists in the history of the World Cup: Pele holds the record for the most assists in World Cup history. Pele had a total of ten assists at the World Cup finals.
4) Most assists in a single World Cup: Pele holds the World Cup record for most assists in a single tournament. In 1970 World Cup, he had seven assists.
5) Most World Cup triumphs: Pele is the only player to have won three World Cups (1958, 1962, and 1970)
6) The youngest player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup match: Pele became the youngest player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup match when he smacked three goals against France in the 1958 World Cup semifinal.
7) Most goals in a career: Pele set a Guinness World Record by scoring 1283 goals in 1363 games (including unofficial matches).
Pele was without a doubt the most popular footballer of his time. What's more astonishing is that he still remains popular despite retiring over four decades ago. It shows how outstanding a footballer Pele was at the time. Pele's international achievements are still unrivaled. His goal-scoring stats are absolutely incredible. There will always be debates over who is the greatest player of all time, but no one can deny his contribution to the globalization of football. Therefore, Pele will always be remembered as the first player to be dubbed the greatest of all time in football.