|Born||Oct 23, 1940|
|Birthplace||Tres Coracoes, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil|
Pele is arguably the greatest soccer player to pull on a pair of boots. The Brazilian superstar is a true of icon of the sport.
Pele is a former Brazilian soccer star widely regarded as the greatest ever to play the game. He played as a forward and an attacking midfielder for Santos and New York Cosmos, as well as the Brazil national team, where his achievements are fondly remembered by fans across the globe.
Pele averaged almost a goal a game during the course of his career and won the FIFA World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
When friendlies are taken into account, Pele reportedly scored a record 1,283 goals in 1,363 career games.
His total goal tally is the source of much dispute, as Santos claimed that he scored 1,091 goals for them, but the widely reported tally is 643. This became a hot topic when Lionel Messi scored his 644th goal for Barcelona in 2020, reportedly making him the record goalscorer of all time for a single club.
Start at Santos
Pele joined coach Lula's Santos after a successful trial in June 1956. On September 7 1956, at the age of 15, he made his first team debut and scored in a 7-1 drubbing of Corinthians Santo Andre.
Pele's performances at the 1958 and 1962 World Cup tournaments drew attention from powerful European clubs.
Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United reportedly attempted to sign him, while Inter Milan went as far as providing him with a contract. However, Inter owner Angelo Moratti had to tear up the contract at the request of Santos' chairman following outrage from Brazilian club's fans.
The Brazil government, under Janio Quadros, declared Pele an "official national treasure" in 1961 to prevent him from leaving the country.
Pele won Campeonato Paulista titles with Santos in 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, and 1973. His goal tally of 58 in 1958 remains a record to date.
Off the back of their 1962 Copa Libertadores win, Santos famously won the Intercontinental Cup against Portuguese giants Benfica with Pele scoring a hat-trick. Santos defended both titles the following years, beating AC Milan in a play-off in the Intercontinental Cup final of 1963.
Spell with New York Cosmos
Following the 1974 season, Pele's 19th at Santos, he retired from Brazilian club football. However, he continued to make occasional appearances for the club in competitive matches.
Pele came out of semi-retirement in 1975 when he signed for New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League (NASL). He scored on his Cosmos debut against Dallas Tornado in a 2-2 draw in June.
In 1977, the 37-year-old Pele helped New York Cosmos beat the Seattle Sounders 2-1 to win their first Soccer Bowl title. Pele called time on his long official professional career after the match, he had scored 64 goals in 107 appearances for the Cosmos.
In October of the same year Pele made his final bow to world soccer in an exhibition match in front of a sold-out crowd at the Giants Stadium. Pele played one half for Cosmos and another for Santos in a match which Cosmos won 2-1.
Star on the world stage
Pele made his debut for the Brazil national team in July 1957 against Argentina, scoring for the Selecao in a 2-1 defeat at the Maracana. At 16 years and nine months, he holds the record for the youngest player ever to score for Brazil.
Despite suffering from a knee injury, Pele persevered and played in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. He made his first World Cup appearance in the first round against the USSR, picking up the assist to Vava's second goal.
In the semi-final match with France, Pele became the youngest player to score a hat-trick at a World Cup Brazil. His three second half goals ensured a 5-2 win over the European side.
In the final, Brazil faced hosts Sweden and beat them 5-2 in their capital city Stockholm. Pele scored twice in the final to help Brazil to their first ever FIFA World Cup title. He ended the tournament with a total of six goals.
Pele was regarded as the best player in the world by the time the 1962 World Cup started and he lived up to this title in the first match, assisting the first goal and scoring the second against Mexico.
Pele injured himself while attempting a long-range shot at goal in Brazil's next match against Czechoslovakia. This ruled him out for the remainder of the tournament, but Garrincha assumed the leading role for Brazil, who managed to defend their World Cup title.
At the 1966 World Cup in England, Pele found himself on the receiving end of some underhand tactics by opposition defenders.
He scored from a free-kick against Bulgaria, becoming the first player ever to score in three World Cup tournaments in a row. However, as a result of being repeatedly fouled, he picked up an injury and missed the next game against Hungary, which the defending champions lost.
Pele returned for Brazil's third game against Portugal and was on the end of an infamous challenge by Joao Morais, which referee George McCabe controversially opted not to administer a red card for.
Brazil were eliminated from the first round of the World Cup, which England went on to win. Pele vowed never to play in another World Cup, but went back on this pledge.
In 1970, having initially snubbed the national team's advances, Pele went with the Selecao to the World Cup tournament in Mexico.
The front five of Jairzinho, Pele, Gerson, Tostao and Rivelino created one of the greatest Brazil sides ever in the history of the tournament.
Pele scored in a 4-1 win over Czechoslovakia, but was stunningly denied a goal by a Gordon Banks save in the first-half of the match against England. He set up Jairzinho for the only goal of the game in the second-half.
Pele went on to score twice in a 3-2 win over Romania and starred in the quarter-final against Peru and the semi-final against Uruguay.
Brazil faced Italy in the final at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and Pele scored one and assisted two in a 4-1 victory, to claim his third World Cup title.
He made his 92nd and final international appearance against Yugoslavia in July 1971 in Rio de Janeiro.
Over forty years later, Pele is still the top goalscorer in the history of the Brazil national team with 77.
Pele became a United Nations ambassador for ecology and the environment in 1992 and a UNESCO goodwill ambassador in 1994.
In 1995 he became Brazil's first minister for sport, a post he held until 1998. He also received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 1997.
Pele has also starred in several films, most notably 1981's Escape to Victory with Sir Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone.
Pele married his third wife, Marcia Aoki, in July 2016. He has fathered seven children, although ironically was also an ambassador for erectile dysfunction.
It is estimated Pele's net worth is around $100million.
In 2016, Pele sued Samsung for at least $30million, claiming that they illegally used a lookalike of him in their New York Times advert.
- Aug 25, 2021
- Oct 24, 2021