When you talk about the beautiful game of football then the first name which comes to your mind is legend Pele. Edson Arantes do Nascimento popularly known as Pele was born on October 23 1940 in Tres Coracoes in Brazil. The son of Fluminense footballer Dondinho and Celeste Arantes. He was the elder of two siblings. He was named after the American inventor Thomas Alva Edison. He received the nickname "Pele" during his school days.
Pele has also been known for connecting the phrase "The Beautiful Game" with football. Also known as a ''Black Pearl'' Pele was a prolific goal-scorer who was known for his ability to anticipate opponents in the area and finish off chances with an accurate and powerful shot with either foot. The most famous and possibly the best-paid athlete in the world Pele was part of the Brazilian national teams that won three World Cups.
Pele is the most successful top-division scorer in the sport with 541 goals in 560 games. His total of 1283 goals in 1363 games including the friendlies
In 1956 de Brito took Pele to Santos to try out for professional club Santos Football Club. Pele impressed Santos coach Lula during his trial and he signed a professional contract with the club in June 1956. Pele was highly promoted in the local media as a future superstar. He made his senior team debut on 7 September 1956 at the age of 15 against Corinthians Santo Andre and had an impressive performance in a 7-1 victory scoring the first goal in his prolific career during the match. When the 1957 season started, Pele was given a starting place in the first team and at the age of 16 became the top scorer in the league. Ten months after signing professionally the teenager was called up to the Brazil National team. Pele''s first international match was a 2-1 defeat against Argentina on 7 July 1957 at the Maracana. In that match, he scored his first goal for Brazil aged 16 years and nine months and he remains the youngest goal-scorer for his country.
In the 1958 FIFA World Cup, Pele arrived in Sweden sidelined by a knee injury but his colleagues stood together and insisted upon his selection. He was at the time the youngest player ever to participate in the World Cup. Against France in the semi-final, Brazil was leading 2-1 at halftime, and then Pele scored a hat-trick becoming the youngest in World Cup history to do so. On 29 June 1958, Pele became the youngest player to play in a world cup match at 17 years and 249 days. He scored two goals in that final as Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 in Stockholm, the capital. Pele hit the post and then Vava scored two goals to give Brazil the lead. His first goal where he flicked the ball over a defender before volleying into the corner of the net, was selected as one of the best goals in the history of the World Cup. It was in the 1958 World Cup that Pele began wearing a jersey with number 10. The press proclaimed Pele the greatest revelation of the 1958 World Cup, and he was also retroactively given the Silver Ball as the second-best player of the tournament, behind Didi.
The Black Pearl won his first major title with Santos in 1958 as the team won the Campeonato Paulista; Pele would finish the tournament as top scorer with 58 goals a record that stands till today.Pele also played in the South American Championship In the 1959 competition he was named best player of the tournament and was top scorer with 8 goals, as Brazil came second despite being unbeaten in the tournament. He scored in five of Brazil''s six games, including two goals against Chile and a hat-trick against Paraguay.
The Black Pearl helped Santos win nine Sao Paulo league championships and in 1962 and 1963 both the Libertadores Cup and the Intercontinental Club Cup.
Going into the 1962 World Cup Pele was the best-rated player in the world. In the first match of the 1962 World Cup in Chile, against Mexico, Pele assisted the first goal and then scored the second one, after a run past four defenders, to go up 2-0. He injured himself in the next game while attempting a long-range shot against Czechoslovakia. This would keep him out of the rest of the tournament, and forced coach. However, it was Garrincha who would take the leading role and carry Brazil to their second World Cup title, after beating Czechoslovakia at the final in Santiago.
Rough play and injuries turned the 1966 World Cup into a disaster for both Brazil and Pele, as the team went out in the first round, and he contemplated retiring from World Cup play. After a forgettable World Cup the Brazilian vowed not to play for his country again in the World Cup but later on he changed his decision.
In 1969, the two factions involved in the Nigerian Civil War agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire so they could watch Pele play an exhibition game in Lagos. Santos ended up playing to a 2-2 draw with Lagos side Stationary Stores FC and Pele scored his team''s goals. The civil war went on for one more year after this game On November 20, 1969, in his 909th first-class match, he scored his 1,000th goal.
Pele was called to the national team in early 1969, he refused at first, but then accepted and played in six World Cup qualifying matches, scoring six goals. The 1970 World Cup in Mexico was expected to be Pele''s last. Brazil played Italy in the final at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.
Pele scored the opening goal with a header after out jumping Italian defender Tarcisio Burgnich. Brazil''s 100th World Cup goal, Pele''s leap of joy into the arms of teammate Jairzinho in celebrating goal is regarded as one of the most iconic moments in World Cup history. Brazil beat Italy 4-1 in the final match. In terms of his goals and assist throughout the 1970 World Cup, Pele was directly responsible for 53% of Brazil''s goals throughout the tournament. The Brazilian legend finished his World Cup career having scored 12 goals in 14 games. Pele received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament.
Pele''s last international match was on 18 July 1971 against Yugoslavia in Rio de Janeiro. With Pele on the field, the Brazilian team''s record was 67 wins, 14 draws and 11 losses. Brazil never lost a match while fielding both Pele and Garrincha.
Pele went on to represent his country in four World Cups where he scored 12 goals. In 1958 he scored 6 goals and was the 2nd highest goal scorer in the tournament including two goals in the final match. In 1962 and 1966 he scored only 1 goal each and in his last world cup in 1970 he netted 4 goals including a goal in the final.
The Brazilian''s achievements in World Cups have been superhuman. Adjudged the best young player in his first world cup and also won the silver ball. At the age of 17, he became the Youngest FIFA World Cup winner in 1958. In the next four years at the age of 21, he became the youngest two-time FIFA World Cup winner in 1962.
In the 1970 FIFA World Cup, Pele was awarded the golden ball for being the best player of the tournament for scoring 4 goals including a goal in the final and for providing 7 assists which is the most in a single FIFA WC tournament and 3 of those assists came in the World Cup final.
The Brazilian announced his retirement in 1974 but in 1975 agreed to a three-year, 7 million dollar contract with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League and to promote the game in the United States. He retired after leading the Cosmos to the league championship in 1977. Pele scored 37 goals in 64 appearances for Cosmos.
Pele holds the world record for 92 hat-tricks. In 1959, he scored 127 goals in a calendar year. In 1984 Pele won the FIFA Order of Merit. In 1998 he was included in the World Team of the 20th century.
In 1999 he was awarded as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century by Time. In the same year The International Federation of Football History & Statistics awarded him the World Player of the Century. In 2000 he was awarded the FIFA Player of the Century. In 2004 FIFA awarded him with the Centennial Award and 100 Greatest Living Footballers. In 2006 International Federation of Football History & Statistics got the Best Brazilian player of the century.
In 2013 Pele got the FIFA Ballon d''Or Prix d''Honneur. In the same year, he was in the World Soccer Greatest XI of All Time. Very recently in 2020, he was a part of the Ballon d''Or Dream Team.
Pele''s electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals made him a star around the world. The Black Pearl was adept at striking the ball with either foot in addition to anticipating his opponents'' movements on the field. Arguably the greatest to have ever played the beautiful game. (ANI)