Olympic speaker, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, also known as Pele, is a record-breaking soccer icon. On his list of achievements include winning three FIFA World Cups™, Copa Libertadores winner, Intercontinental Cup winner, Taca Brasil winner, Robertao Tournament winner, North American Soccer League winner, FIFA Player of the Century, and FIFA Order of Merit, just to name a few. Pele was a soccer mastermind who was relentlessly reinventing the game of soccer.
The Brazilian soccer player had a killer instinct inside him and had an eye for the perfect pass. He had extreme athleticism, which made him just about the perfect soccer player. With every dribble, pass and touch of the ball, Pele had a way to amaze the fans with something new, something they had never seen before. Pele played a beautiful game in the eyes of so many spectators, and people will always remember the celebrated number 10 player.
His career began at a young age of eleven when a former Brazilian international player, Waldermar de Brito, spotted him. Just before his sixteenth birthday, Pele scored his first goal on his first team debut against Corinthians of Santo Andre in 1956. Pele scored six goals this game and the rest is history-a legend was born.
Pele’s world appearance was in 1958 in Sweden. Pele was a young teenager when he played his first FIFA World Cup, and he dazzled in the tournament with his stunning skills. With these skills, Pele earned a starting position for Brazil’s third match against the Soviet Union. Prior to this game, he had been pulled for a knee injury but the trainers insisted upon him being alongside striker Vava, another famous Brazilian soccer player.
In the quarter-finals against Wales, the soccer prodigy scored the only goal, and in doing so established himself as the youngest scorer in FIFA World Cup history, seventeen years and two hundred and thirty nine days old. His next triumph was in the semi-final game against France when he had a second-half hat-trick inside twenty three minutes in Brazil’s 5-2 victory over France.
Pele had perfect technique mixed with lightning speed, intelligence and his desire to win, made him unstoppable. With the final game of his first FIFA World Cup against Sweden, Pele had two impressive goals. After the final whistle of the game, Pele was carried away on his team-mates’ shoulders, in tears. Remembering this achievement, Pele said, “I felt like I was living in a dream.” In the years that followed his triumphant first season, he only got better. In 1959, he scored an amazing one hundred and twenty-seven goals, in 1961-one hundred and ten goals and back-to-back Intercontinental Cup successes.
The 1962 World Cup arrived and Pele was ready to showcase his talents. Unfortunately, in a game against Czechoslovakia, Pele suffered a groin injury and he was forced to sit on the bench as his team regained their world title. At this point, Pele thought all his troubles were put behind him. Unlucky fate awaited him in 1966 in England where he made violent tackles and was again on a stretcher. This time, though, his team went with him-losing the next game.
It took eight years until Mexico for Pele to remind the world of his extraordinary talents. It was also a first for FIFA, as the games were broadcasted around the world in color. Pele, now adorning the name, ‘The King,’ truly lived up to his name and was assisted by team-mates Jairzinho, Tostao, Rivelino, Gerson and Carlos Alberto. Fittingly, Brazil’s one-hundredth World Cup goal was by Pele, in the 4-1 final win over Italy, who had an athletic jump with a header. Pele, later speaking about this goal said, “It was a special feeling to score with my head. My father once scored five headers in one match-that’s one record I’ve never been able to beat.” At it still remains, Pele is one of only two soccer players to have scored in four separate tournaments with his twelfth goal in fourteen FIFA World cup appearances.
Arguably the greatest team ever, Brazil earned the right to keep the Jules Rimet trophy after winning it three times. From this moment on, Pele became a legend, the day after the final game Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper stated, “How do you spell Pele? G-O-D.”
From the moment he stepped out on the field when he was eleven, he has continued to be a record breaker. A penalty kick in 1969 at the Maracana, he scored his one thousandth goal. On no fewer than six occasions, he scored five goals in a game, had thirty goal hauls and scored ninety two hat-tricks. In a game against Botafogo, he scored eight times. In total, ‘The King’ had 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.
In 1974, Pele quit what was known to him as, o jogo bonito-the beautiful game. Attempting “to bring the world’s game to the American public,” Pele returned the next year to play for the New York Cosmos until he finally hung up his cleats for the last time in 1977.
In celebration of Pele’s thousandth goal, the port city of Santos declared November 19th ‘Pele Day.’ And since his career ended, Pele has used his ambassador status to promote his native country-UN and UNICEF. “Every kid in the world who plays soccer wants to be Pele,” he said, “which means I have the responsibility of showing them how to be a footballer but also how to be a man.” Pele is available for Public Relations Campaign and Satellite Media Tours.
BOOKS: Pele, For the Love of Soccer!, My Life and the Beautiful Game, Pele 10, Play Football with Pele, Por Amor al Futbol, Mi Legado, FIFA 100
TO WORK WITH PELE: Celebrity soccer star Pele can be hired for endorsements and events in roles such as corporate appearances, endorsements, speaking and autograph signing.