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Pelé-Brazilian Soccer Hero

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Pele-Brazilian Soccer Hero, best known by his nickname Pelé (Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation: [peÈl[], usual English pronunciation: /Èp[lej/) is a retired Brazilian footballer. He is widely regarded among football historians, former players and fans to be one of the best and most accomplished footballers in the game's history. In 1999, he was voted as the Football Player of the Century by the IFFHS International Federation of Football History and Statistics. In the same year French weekly magazine France-Football consulted their former "Ballon D'Or" winners to elect the Football Player of the Century. Pelé came in first position.[16] In 1999 the International Olympic Committee named Pelé the "Athlete of the Century".[17] In his career he scored 760 official goals, 541 in league championships, making him the top scorer of all time. In total Pelé scored 1281 goals in 1363 games.

In his native Brazil, Pelé is hailed as a national hero.He is known for his accomplishments and contributions to the game of football.[21] He is also acknowledged for his vocal support of policies to improve the social conditions of the poor (when he scored his 1,000th goal he dedicated it to the poor children of Brazil).[22] During his career, he became known as "The King of Football" (O Rei do Futebol), "The King Pelé" (O Rei Pelé) or simply "The King" (O Rei).

Spotted by football star Waldemar de Brito,[24] Pelé began playing for Santos at 15 and his national team at 16, and won his first World Cup at 17. Despite numerous offers from European clubs, the economic conditions and Brazilian football regulations at the time benefited Santos, thus enabling them to keep Pelé for almost two decades until 1974. With Pelé within their ranks, Santos reach their zenith by winning the 1962 and 1963 Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious club competition in South American football.[25] Pelé played as an inside second forward, also known as a playmaker. Pelé's technique and natural athleticism have been universally praised and during his playing years he was renowned for his excellent dribbling and passing, his pace, powerful shot, exceptional heading ability, and prolific goalscoring.

He is the all-time leading scorer of the Brazil national football team and is the only footballer to be a part of three World Cup-winning squads. In 1962 he was on the Brazilian squad at the start of the World Cup but because of an injury suffered in the second match, he was not able to play the remainder of the tournament. In November 2007 FIFA announced that he would be awarded the 1962 medal retroactively, making him the only player in the world to have three World Cup winning medals.

Since his retirement in 1977, Pelé has been a worldwide ambassador for football and has undertaken various acting roles and commercial ventures. He is currently the Honorary President of the New York Cosmos.

Pelé was born in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil, the son of Fluminense footballer Dondinho (born João Ramos do Nascimento) and Dona Celeste Arantes.[28] He was named after the American inventor Thomas Edison,[1][5] however his parents decided to remove the 'i' and call him 'Edson', but there was a mistake on the birth certificate, leading many documents to show his name as 'Edison', not 'Edson', as he is actually called.[1][29][30] He 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 favorite player, local Vasco da Gama goalkeeper Bilé, which he misspoke 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.[28] Apart from the assertion that the name is derived from that of Bilé, and that it is Hebrew for miracle, the word has no known meaning in Portuguese.[32]

Pelé grew up in poverty in Bauru, São Paulo. He earned extra money by working in tea shops as a servant. Taught to play by his coach, he could not afford a proper football and usually played with either a sock stuffed with newspaper, tied with a string[28] or a grapefruit.[33] In 1954, aged fourteen, he joined Bauru Athletic Club juniors in Bauru, São Paulo.

Club career- Santos

In 1956, de Brito took Pelé to Santos, an industrial and port city in the state of São Paulo, to try out for professional club Santos Futebol Clube telling the directors at Santos that the 15-year-old would be "the greatest football player in the world."[35]

Aged 15, Pelé made his debut for Santos in 7 September 1956, scoring one goal in a 7–1 friendly victory over Corinthians.[36][37] 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 such as Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United tried 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.

Pelé won his first major title with Santos in 1958 as the team won the Campeonato Paulista; Pelé would finish the tournament as top scorer with an incredible 58 goals,[39] a record that stands today. A year later, O Rei would help the team earn their first victory in the Torneio Rio-São Paulo with a 3–0 over Vasco da Gama.[40] However, Santos was unable to retain the Paulista title. In 1960, Pelé scored 33 goals to help his team regain the Campeonato Paulista trophy but lost out on the Rio-São Paulo tournament after finishing in a disappointing 8th place.[41] Another 47 goals from Pelé saw Santos retain the Campeonato Paulista. The club went on to win the Taça Brasil that same year, crushing Bahia in the finals; Pelé finished as top scorer of the tournament with 9 goals. The victory allowed Santos to participate in the Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious club tournament in the Western hemisphere.[42]

Santos' most successful club season started in 1962;[5] the team was seeded in Group 1 alongside Cerro Porteño and Deportivo Municipal, winning every match of their group but one (a 1–1 away tie vs Cerro), with Pelé scoring his first goal in a brace against Cerro. Santos defeated Universidad Católica in the semifinals and met defending champions Peñarol in the finals in which Pelé scored another brace in the playoff match to secure the first title for a Brazilian club. Pelé finished as the second best scorer of the competition with 4 goals. That same year, Santos would defend, with success, the Campeonato Brasiliero (with 37 goals from Pelé), the Taça Brasil (Pelé scoring four goals in the final series against Botafogo), and win the 1962 Intercontinental Cup against Benfica.[43] Wearing his iconic number 10 shirt, Pelé produced one of his best ever performances and scored a hat-trick in Lisbon, as Santos beat the European champions 5–2. As the defending champions, Santos qualified automatically to the semifinal stage of the 1963 Copa Libertadores. The ballet blanco managed to retain the title in spectacular fashion after impressive victories over Botafogo and Boca Juniors. Pelé helped Santos overcome a Botafogo team that contained legends such as Garrincha and Jairzinho with an agonizing last-minute goal in the first leg of the semifinals and bring the match to 1–1. In the second leg, Pelé produced one of his best performances as a footballer with a hat-trick in the Estádio do Maracanã as Santos crushed Botafogo 0–4 in the second leg. Appearing in their second consecutive final, Santos started the series by winning 3–2 in the first leg and defeating the Boca Juniors of José Sanfilippo and Antonio Rattín 1–2 in La Bombonera, with another goal from Pelé, becoming the first (and so far only) Brazilian team to lift the Copa Libertadores in Argentine soil. Pelé finished the tournament as the topscorer runner-up with 5 goals. Santos lost the Campeonato Paulista after finishing in third place but went on to win the Rio-São Paulo tournament after an impressive 0–3 win over Flamengo in the final, with Pelé providing one goal in the match. Pelé would also help Santos retain the Intercontinental Cup and the Taça Brasil.[43]

Santos tried to defend their title again in 1964 but they were thoroughly beaten in both legs of the semifinals by Independiente. Santos won again the Campeonato Paulista, with Pelé netting 34 goals. The club also shared the Rio-São Paulo title with Botafogo and win the Taça Brasil for the fourth consecutive year. The Santistas would try to resurge in 1965 by winning, for the 9th time, the Campeonato Paulista and the Taça Brasil. In the 1965 Copa Libertadores, Santos started convincingly by winning every match of their group in the first round. In the semifinals, Santos met Peñarol in a rematch of the 1962 final. After two legendary matches,[5] a playoff was needed to break the tie. Unlike 1962, Peñarol came out on top and eliminated Santos 2–1.[5] Pelé would, however, finish as the topscorer of the tournament with eight goals.[45] This proved to be the start of a decline as Santos failed to retain the Torneio Rio-São Paulo.

In 1966, Pelé and Santos also failed to retain the Taça Brasil as O Rei's goals weren't enough to prevent a 9–4 routing by Cruzeiro (led by Tostão) in the final series. Although Santos won the Campeonato Paulista in 1967, 1968 and 1969, Pelé became less and less a contributing factor to the Santistas now-limited success. On 19 November 1969, Pelé scored his 1000th goal in all competitions. This was a highly anticipated moment in Brazil.[5] The goal, called popularly O Milésimo (The Thousandth), occurred in a match against Vasco da Gama, when Pelé scored from 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 São Paulo rival Juventus on 2 August 1959. As there is no video footage of this match, Pelé asked that a computer animation be made of this specific goal.[5] In March 1961, Pelé scored the gol de placa (goal worthy of a plaque), against Fluminense at the Maracanã.[46] Pelé received the ball on the edge of his own penalty area, and ran the length of the field, eluding opposition players, and fired the ball beyond the goalkeeper.[46] The goal was regarded as being so spectacular that a plaque was commissioned with a dedication to the most beautiful goal in the history of the Maracanã.

Pelé's electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals made him a star around the world.[19] His team Santos toured internationally in order to take full advantage of his popularity. 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.[48] 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.[49]

New York Cosmos

After the 1972 season (his 17th with Santos), Pelé retired from Brazilian club football although he continued to occasionally suit up for Santos in official competitive matches. Two years later, he came out of semi-retirement to sign with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League (NASL) for the 1975 season. Though well past his prime at this point, Pelé is credited with significantly increasing public awareness and interest in soccer in the United States. He led the Cosmos to the 1977 NASL championship, in his third and final season with the club.[50]

On 1 October 1977, Pelé closed out his legendary career in an exhibition match between the Cosmos and Santos. Santos arrived in New York and New Jersey after previously defeating the Seattle Sounders 2–0. The match was played in front of a capacity crowd at Giants Stadium and was televised in the United States on ABC's Wide World of Sports as well as throughout the world. Pelé's father and wife both attended the match, as well as a number of his friends in sport such as Muhammad Ali and Bobby Moore.[51] Pelé gave a brief pre-match speech during which he asked the crowd to say the word "love" with him three times. He played the first half for the Cosmos and the second half for Santos. Pelé scored his final goal on a direct free kick, driving the ball past the diving Santos goalkeeper. At halftime, the Cosmos retired Pelé's number 10. Pelé presented his Cosmos shirt to his father, who was escorted to the field by Cosmos captain Werner Roth. During the second half, Cosmos striker Ramon Mifflin, who had replaced Pelé when he switched sides at halftime, scored on a deflected cross, and the Cosmos won the match 2–1. After the match, Pelé was embraced by the Cosmos players, including longtime rival Giorgio Chinaglia, and then ran around the field while holding an American flag in his left hand and a Brazilian flag in his right hand. Pelé was soon lifted by several Cosmos players and carried around the field.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pel%C3%A9