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Pelé - a Brief Biography


Pelé remains, in the eyes of most football experts, the greatest footballer that has ever lived. Born in Brazil in October 1940, and christened Edison 'Edson' Arantes do Nascimento, he soon became known by his nickname - Pelé. The career achievements of Pelé still remain unparalleled, and he helped to make Brazil the dominant force in world football.

A Teenage Prodigy

In the Santos first team at 15, Pelé was a full Brazil international at the age of 16, and at 17 was a star of the World Cup-winning side of 1958. Pelé scored two goals in the final in a 5-2 win against the host nation, Sweden. One goal was an audacious flick over the head of a defender that the precocious Pelé met on the volley.

Part of the Brazilian side that won the World Cup in Chile in 1962, Pelé missed the final through injury. He also hobbled out of the 1966 World Cup in England, where he was given rough treatment by opposing defenders.

Awesome in Mexico

The 1970 World Cup in Mexico saw Pelé as the lynchpin of a sublime Brazilian side that also included Rivelino, Jairzinho, Tostão, Gerson, and Carlos Alberto. His battle with England captain Bobby Moore in a group match in Guadalajara was the stuff of legend. The two giants of the game embraced and swapped shirts at the end of the match in a show of mutual respect - which was captured in one of football's most famous photographs.

Pelé produced some incredible moments in Mexico, including nearly scoring from his own half against Czechoslovakia, and selling an outrageous dummy to the Uruguayan goalkeeper. The final itself was like an exhibition game, as Brazil made light of Italy's defensive reputation romping to a 4-1 win, set on their way by Pelé's towering header.

The End of a Marvellous Career

Mexico was Pelé's World Cup swansong. In 1969 he had another great triumph, as he scored his 1,000th career goal against Vasco da Gama. Pelé played out the final stages of his career with the star-studded New York Cosmos, and he retired in 1977, averaging, incredibly, nearly a goal a game in his career. He was, and still is, the only player to have been in three World Cup-winning squads, and he helped Santos win the World Club Championship twice, in 1962 and 1963 respectively.

- Paul Rance/

Autobiography of Brazilian football legend Pele

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