Pele is arguably one of the greatest football players of all time. Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or as he’s better known to most ‘Pele’, was one of the first players in the world to really help ascend football into the global massive that it is today.

A Brazilian footballer of true Samba style, Pele was a pioneer of combining athletic skill and technical prowess; the result was a player of the likes the world had rarely, if ever, seen before. The things that he could do with the ball, and his body, made him stand out from the crowd in a way which has since shaped football.

PelePele’s life began like many young Brazilians, in hardship. He grew up in Minas Gerais, and was the son of a former Fluminese player, Dondinho. The reason for being nicknamed Pele comes from his inability to pronounce former Vasco de Gama goalkeeper Bile’ name. Pele grew up in a stricken part of the region and his father taught him how to play football with a grapefruit or even a sock stuffed with newspapers and tied together with string. As a youth, he led Bauru Athletic Juniors to three consecutive state championships, and this caught the eye of Sao Paulo giants Santos FC.Pele began his professional career with Santos at the age of fifteen, making his debut against Corinthians Santo Andrew and scored the first of his 1,281 goals in the match in a 7-1 win. He was the top scorer in the league at the age of 16 and was called up to the senior Brazilian national team within just ten months of his debut.

PeleWith Santos, he won back-to-back Copa Libertadores trophies – the South American equivalent of the UEFA Champions League, or European Cup – and two Intercontinental Cups. On top of that he amassed 6 Serie A trophies in Brazil alongside 10 Paulista State Titles. Eventually, he moved to the North American Soccer League to play for the New York Cosmos. With the Cosmos, Pele won the Soccer Bowl and the Atlantic Conference in 1977. It was the international career of Pele, though, that makes such incredible headlines.

Pele brazilWith Brazil, Pele won the 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cup as well as numerous individual international honours. He scored in the 1958 final as Brazil beat Sweden 5-2, and arrived in 1962 as the best player in the world. He did, however, miss the majority of the tournament as he injured himself in the first game of the tournament. 1966 was a less successful cup, as Brazil went home after just three matches. 1970, though, was prove to be his redemption. Alongside people like Rivelino, Jairinzho, Carlos Alberto and Tostao, Brazil went on to win the World Cup in style. They dispatched Italy in the final, 4-1, with Pele opening the scoring and assisting two more.

Although his later life after football is marked with controversial statements and questionable advertising campaigns, few could ever doubt the great contribution that Pele made not only to football, but to sport in general. As far as talented players who who defined the future of their sport, few are as important as Pele.

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