Pelé has been considered one of the best soccer players in the world by many. He has been the only player to win three World Cups. How did he get the title “Best Soccer Player”? Well, we are going to have to go all the way back to his early life in Brazil.
Pelé, whose actual name was Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, was born in Três Corações, Brazil, on October 23, 1940. Pelé grew up in poverty, and was really passionate about soccer. Since he could not afford a good ball to practice with, he kicked a rolled-up sock stuffed with rags around his neighborhood. The kids in his neighborhood called him “Pele” for no specific reason. He did not like it, but the name stuck to him.
When he was a young teenager, he joined a youth team managed by a former player from Brazil’s soccer team. At age 15, Pelé left his home to join the Santos professional club, which was five hours away. A few months after he joined the club, he scored the first goal of his professional soccer career. The Brazilian national team spotted his spectacular skills on the field, and recruited him to play for the team at the early age of 16.
One year later, Pelé played his first-ever World Cup. Considering his remarkable speed and field vision, the youngster scored three goals in the semi-final against France. He scored two more in the final over the host country, Sweden, which officially made him win his first World Cup. Various teams asked him to play for clubs in Europe. Still, Pelé rejected the offer and decided to keep playing for Santos. Unfortunately, Pelé got a serious injury during two World Cup games in Chile in 1962, making him sit out from the rest of the World Cup. Pelé’s teammates made sure to finish the tournament strong and bring home the World Cup. Then, four years later, a disappointment happened; the players from Brazil got tremendous leg injuries. That cost Brazil to get knocked out of the 1966 World Cup, making the host country, England, win the World Cup.
In the 1970 World Cup that was hosted in Mexico, Brazil had a huge success. Pelé scored a total of four goals during the cup, including one which gave the successful victory to Brazil in the finals, marking the score 4-1 over Italy.
Retirement was a thought that Pelé contemplated later in his career, but he instead came back to play for the New York Cosmos in 1974, four years after the successful journey of Brazil in 1970. Pelé’s presence made the Northern American Soccer League a famous attraction. He then played his final game against Santos, his first-ever club. He was competing for both sides, then retired with a score of exactly 1,281 goals in 1,363 games. Pelé was officially named “Co-Player of the Century” by FIFA in the year 1999.
To many, he is the greatest soccer player of all time due to his amazing footwork and magic-like skills out on the field. The whole world was shocked to hear that on December 29, 2022 in São Paulo, Brazil, the king of soccer himself had died at the age of 82.