Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Edson Arantes do Nascimento, (born October 23, 1940 in Três Corações, Brazil), best known by his nickname Pelé, is a former Brazilian football player, and often regarded to be the greatest of all time. In his native Brazil, Pelé is hailed as a national hero for his accomplishments and contribution to the game.He is often referred to as "The King of Football" (O Rei do Futebol) or simply "The King Pelé" (O Rei Pelé).
Pelé played as an inside forward, striker, and what today would be referred to as the playmaker position. Pelé's technique and natural athleticism have been universally praised; he was an exceptionally prolific goalscorer and was renowned for his dribbling and passing, as well as his pace, strong shot, and an exceptional heading ability for a man of average Brazilian height. His most spectacular move was probably the "bicycle kick". He said in his autobiography his biggest regret was not scoring an overhead bicycle kick in a World Cup.
He is the all-time top scorer in the history of the Brazil national team and is the only footballer ever to win three World Cup titles as a player (it should be noted that, due to injury, he did not participate in Brazil's World Cup triumph in 1962 and did not receive a medal). His number 10 shirt has become traditional among creative attacking midfielders and forwards, and many of the sport's great players have since worn it.
Since his full retirement in 1977 Pelé has been an ambassador for football and has also undertaken various acting roles and commercial ventures.

Early life

Born in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil, the son of Fluminense footballer Dondinho (born Joao Ramos do Nascimento) and Celeste. He was named after American inventor Thomas Edison, and was originally nicknamed Dico by his family.He did not receive the nickname "Pelé" until his school days, when it is claimed he was given it because of his pronunciation of the name of his favourite player, local Vasco da Gama goalkeeper Bilé, which he misspoke "Pilé". He originally disliked the nickname, being suspended from school for punching the classmate that coined it,but the more he complained the more it stuck. In his autobiography, Pelé stated he had no idea what the name means, nor did his old friends. Apart from the assertion that the name is derived from that of Bilé, the word has no known meaning, although it does resemble the Irish language word 'Peile', meaning football, and the Hebrew word meaning "wonder".
Growing up in poverty in Bauru, São Paulo, Pelé earned extra money by shining shoes at the Bauru Athletic Club on match days. Taught to play by his father, whose own professional football career with Atletico Mineiro ended prematurely due to a knee injury, he could not afford a proper football and usually played with either a sock stuffed with newspaper, tied with a string or a grapefruit.
His first team was called the "Shoeless Ones" formed by himself and other boys from the Sete de Setembro and Rubens Arruda street but, when they entered a local tournament organised by the mayor of Bauru that required footwear, they were no longer shoeless and were renamed Ameriquinha. They reached the final in BAC Stadium in front of thousands of spectators and won with Pele ending up as the tournament top scorer.
In 1954, several members of the Ameriquinha team, including Pele, were invited to join the Baquinho boy's team to be managed by former Brazilian international Waldemar de Brito, who played in the 1934 World Cup in Italy. For the first time, Pele was paid to play football. The team won the 1954 Youth Championship organised by the newspapers Diario de Bauru and the Sao Paulo Sporting Gazette with Pele scoring 148 goals in 33 games.

Club career


In 1956, de Brito took Pelé to Santos, an industrial and port city in the eastern state of São Paulo, to try out for professional club Santos Futebol Clube telling the directors at Santos that the 16-year-old would be "the greatest football player in the world."
During his time at Santos, Pelé played alongside many gifted players, including Zito, Pepe and Coutinho; the latter partnered him in numerous one-two plays, attacks, and goals.
Pelé made his debut for Santos in 1956, scoring one goal in a 7-1 friendly victory over Corinthians. When the 1957 season started, Pelé was given a starting place in the first team and, at the age of just 16, became the top scorer in the league. Just ten months after signing professionally, the teenager was called up to the Brazil national team. After the World Cup in 1962, wealthy European clubs offered massive fees to sign the young player, but the government of Brazil declared Pelé an "official national treasure" to prevent him from being transferred out of the country.
On November 19, 1969, Pelé scored his 1000th goal in all competitions. This was a highly anticipated moment in Brazil.The goal, called popularly O Milésimo (The Thousandth), occurred in a match against Vasco da Gama, when Pelé scored a penalty kick, at the Maracanã Stadium.
Pelé states that his most beautiful goal was scored at Rua Javari stadium on a Campeonato Paulista match against Sao Paulo rivals Juventus on August 2, 1959. As there is no video footage of this match, Pelé asked that a computer animation be made of this specific goal. In March 1961, Pelé scored the gol de placa (goal worthy of a plaque), a goal against Fluminense at the Maracanã which was regarded as so spectacular that a plaque was commissioned with a dedication to the most beautiful goal in the history of the Maracanã.
In 1967, the two factions involved in the Nigerian Civil War agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire so they could watch Pelé play an exhibition game in Lagos.
In a Santos - Cruzeiro match, played in 1968, Pelé broke the leg of Procópio.

New York Cosmos

After his retirement from Brazilian club football on 2 October 1974, Pelé joined the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. A reported $7,000,000 contract for three years made him the highest-paid football player of the North American Soccer League.
During the three seasons he played for the Cosmos, he was named in the annual NASL First Team—the 11 best players of a particular season. He was also named as the league's most valuable player in 1976. His lucrative contract for the Cosmos meant that Pelé had to play in the regular U.S. NASL season but also travel the world playing many exhibition games. During the three years Pelé played for Cosmos, he played matches in countries such as China, Japan, Sweden, Bermuda and Uganda. In his final year as a professional player, the Cosmos won the 1977 NASL Championship. During that season, Pelé was joined by fellow Brazilian Carlos Alberto, Turkish panthera goalkeeper Yasin Ozdenak and "the Kaiser", Franz Beckenbauer. Pele has long maintained that one of the highlights of his NY Cosmos career was playing alongside Mirko Liveric. "I learned many things about futbol from ML. He could have been a star in Brazil."
He played his last game as a professional in a friendly match on October 1, 1977, in front of a capacity crowd at Giants Stadium against his old club, Santos; he played the first half with the Cosmos and the second half with Santos. The exhibition game was sold out six weeks beforehand; when the match ended, it was announced that number "10" would be retired in his honour. However, Pelé did appear in a few friendly games for the Cosmos after he retired in 1977. Due to falling attendance, the Cosmos tried to bring Pelé out of retirement a second time, but he declined.

National team career

Pelé's first international match was a 2-1 victory against Argentina on July 7, 1957. In that match, he scored his first goal for Brazil, three months before his 17th birthday.
1958 World CupHis World Cup debut was against the USSR in the first round of the 1958 FIFA World Cup. He was the youngest player of that tournament, and at the time the youngest ever to play in the World Cup. He scored his first World Cup goal against Wales in quarterfinals, the only goal of the match, to help Brazil advance to semifinals, while becoming the youngest ever World Cup goalscorer at 17 years and 239 days. Against France in the semifinal, Brazil was leading 2-1 at halftime, and then Pelé scored a hat-trick, becoming the youngest in World Cup history to do so.
On 19 June 1958 Pelé became the youngest player to play in a World Cup final match at 17 years and 249 days. He scored two goals in the final as Brazil beat Sweden 5-2. His first goal, a lob over a defender followed by a precise volley shot, was selected as one of the best goals in the history of the World Cup. When the match ended, he passed out on the field, and had to be attended by the medical staff. He then recovered, and was visibly compelled by the victory, in tears as being congratulated by his teammates. He finished the tournament with six goals in four matches played, tied for second place, behind record-breaker Just Fontaine.

1962 World Cup

In the first match of the 1962 World Cup, against Mexico, Pelé assisted the first goal and then scored the final 2-0 after a run past four defenders. He injured himself while attempting a long-range shot against Czechoslovakia. This would keep him out of the rest of the tournament, and forced coach Aymoré Moreira to make his only lineup change of the tournament. The substitute was Amarildo, who had a good performance in the tournament; it was, however, Garrincha, who would take the leading role and carried Brazil to their second World Cup title.
In a friendly match played in 1965, Pelé broke the leg of West Germany player Kiesman; an action which many believed to be intentional.

1966 World Cup

The 1966 tournament was remembered for its excessive physical play, and Pelé was one of the victims of such play. After becoming the first player ever to score in three World Cups, with a direct free kick against Bulgaria, he had to rest, due to tiredness,[19] for the match against Hungary, which Brazil lost 1-3. He then faced Portugal, and several violent tackles by the Portuguese defenders caused him to leave the match and the tournament. Brazil lost that match and were eliminated in the first round of the World Cup for the first time since 1934. After the tournament, Pelé declared that he did not wish to play in the World Cup again.

1970 World Cup

When Pelé was called to the national team in early 1969, he first refused, but then accepted and played in six World Cup qualifying matches, scoring six goals. The 1970 tournament in Mexico was to be Pelé's last.
The 1970 squad featured major changes in relation to the 1966 squad. Players like Garrincha, Nilton Santos, Djalma Santos, and Gilmar had already retired, but the team, with Pelé, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Gérson, Tostão, and Clodoaldo, is widely considered one of the greatest football teams ever.
In the first match, against Czechoslovakia, Pelé scored the 2-1 after controlling Gerson's pass with his chest. Brazil won the match, 4-1. On the first half of the match against England, he nearly scored with a header that was spectacularly saved by Gordon Banks. On the second half, he assisted Jairzinho for the only goal of the match. Against Romania, he opened the score on a direct free kick goal, a strong strike with the outside of his right foot. Later on the match he scored again to put the score 3-1. Brazil won by a final score of 3-2. In quarterfinals against Peru, Brazil won 4-2, with Pelé assisting Tostão on his team's third goal. In the semi-finals, Brazil faced Uruguay for the first time since the 1950 World Cup final round match. Jairzinho put Brazil ahead 2-1, and Pelé assisted Rivelino for the 3-1. In that match, Pelé hit Uruguayan player Fontes with his elbow,at the same time the latter was fouling Pelé.
Brazil played Italy in the final, with Pelé scoring the opener on a header over defender Tarcisio Burgnich. He then made assists on Jairzinho's and Carlos Alberto's goals, the latter one after an impressive collective play. Brazil won the match 4-1, keeping the Jules Rimet Trophy indefinitely. Burgnich, who marked Pelé during the match, was quoted saying "I told myself before the game, he's made of skin and bones just like everyone else — but I was wrong".
His last international match was on July 18, 1971 against Yugoslavia in Rio de Janeiro. His record with the Brazilian team was 67 wins, 14 draws, and 11 losses. Brazil never lost a match with both Pelé and Garrincha on the field
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