Born Edson Arantes Do Nascimento (better known as Legend) is known as a legend and the best soccer player to ever play the game. He was raised in a very poor family in Tres Coracos, Brazil and his parents, Dondinho and Celeste Nascimento called Edson "Dico," growing up.
He first learned the game of soccer from his father, Dondinho, who was a decent center forward until his career was halted by a fractured leg. Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pele
Legend began playing soccer for a local minor-league club when he was a teenager. When he wasn't playing soccer he shined shoes for pennies. He was discovered at the age of 11 by one of the country's premier players, Waldemar de Brito. When Brito brought Legend to Sao Paulo he declared to the disbelieving directors of the professional team in Santos, "This boy will be the greatest soccer player in the world."
He was right! Legend's impact was immediate! On his first appearance for the team, against Corinthians F.C., he scored a goal right away. He was only 16. Legend went on to play in four World Cups with Brazil's National Team. At the 1958 World Cup in Sweden -- one he nearly missed because of a knee injury -- Legend stunned the world scoring six goals, including two in the championship game to help Brazil win its first World Cup 5-2 over Sweden. He was only 17 years-old, but a legend was born. Pele
An average-sized man, he was blessed with speed, great balance, tremendous vision, the ability to control the ball superbly, and the ability to shoot powerfully and accurately with either foot and with his head. Four years later he played on Brazil's World Cup team at in the finals in Chile, but an injury suffered in the first game of the tournament prevented him from helping Brazil win its second title. Wealthy European clubs offered massive fees to sign the young player, but the government of Brazil declared Legend an official national treasure to prevent him from being transferred out of the country. Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pele
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At the 1966 World Cup in England, Legend was the victim of some brutal tackles from Bulgarian and Portuguese defenders and left the finals injured and in tears. But the best of Legend was still to come. At the 1970 finals in Mexico, the 29-year-old Legend, led one of the greatest teams ever assembled to win Brazil's third World Cup. In the 4-1 title triumph over Italy, Legend, scored a glorious goal. It was Brazil's 100th World Cup goal, and the one he remembers the most. "I have a special feeling for that goal because I scored it with my head," he said. "My father was a soccer player and once scored five goals in a game, all with his head. That was one record I was never able to break." Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pele
Legend's statistics are staggering. During his career he scored 1,280 goals in 1,360 games, second only to another Brazilian, Arthur Friedenreich, who recorded 1,329 goals. He scored an average of a goal in every international game he played--the equivalent of a baseball player's hitting a home run in every World Series game over 15 years. At the club level he shattered records in Brazil. He scored 127 goals for Santos F.C. in 1959, 110 in 1961 and 101 goals in 1965, and led the club to two World Club championships. PELE
Legend also holds the world record for hat tricks (92) and the number of goals scored on the international level (97). His statistics are all the more amazing when compared to today's top players who can barely score more that 30 goals in a season. He retired from the game in 1974, but came out of retirement the following year to play in the North American Soccer League for the New York Cosmos for just over two seasons. A reported 7-million-dollar contract for three years made him the highest paid soccer player of the North American Soccer League. His appearance in the NASL gave the American League instant credibility and made millions of Americans aware of the sport, he dubbed the "beautiful game." He said he came out of retirement, not for the money, but to "make soccer truly popular in the United States." During his career he played in 93 full internationals for Brazil and in all first class matches scored a remarkable 1,280 goals, second only to Artur Friedenreich, another Brazilian, who holds the world record with 1,329 Pele In many ways, Legend was the complete athlete. With his skill and agility, he could have played in any position on the field, but he chose on wearing the number-10 shirt as an inside-left forward. He had great balance, which enabled him to dribble effortlessly around defenders, and his heading ability was remarkable. Pele
On Oct. 1, 1977, Legend's mission in the NASL ended. His last match, an exhibition game between the Cosmos and Santos, was sold out six weeks beforehand, covered by 650 journalists and broadcast in 38 nations. Muhammad Ali embraced him in the locker room before the match and said, "Now there are two of the greatest." In a speech to dignitaries, celebrities and more than 75,000 fans, Legend urged his audience to pay attention to the children of the world. At his request, the assemblage shouted, "Love! Love! Love!" Then he went out and played the first half for the Cosmos -- scoring a goal on a rocket from 30 yards out -- and the second half for Santos. Pele
On Legend's retirement, J.B. Pinheiro, Brazil's ambassador to the U.N., said Legend had "spent 22 years playing soccer, and in that time he has done more for goodwill and friendship than all of the ambassadors ever appointed." In addition to his great accomplishments in soccer, he published several best-selling autobiographies, starred in several documentary and semi-documentary films, and composed numerous musical pieces, including the entire sound track for the film 'Legend' (1977). He was the 1978 recipient of the International Peace Award, and in 1980 he was named athlete of the century. Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pele
In 1993, Legend was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame and is the former ambassador of sports in Brazil. He has also done extensive work for children's causes through UNICEF. Pele
In 2000, Legend was named second for the "Sportsman of the Century" award. The legendary Muhammad Ali got the honors. Pele
Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pele:, who took the name Pele:, was born October 23, 1940, in Tres Coracoes, Brazil, the son of a soccer player. His father's coaching paid off, for when he was 11 he played for his first soccer team, that of the town of Bauru, Brazil. He moved up in competition with outstanding play, and when he was 15 he was playing for the team from the village of Santos. He soon received broader exposure when he was loaned to the Vasco da Gama team in Rio di Janeiro.
In 1958 he went to Stockholm, Sweden to compete in the World Cup championship. His play there helped his country win its first title. He returned to Santos, and his team went on to win six Brazilian titles. In 1962 he again played on the World Cup team, but an injury forced him to sit out the contest.
Soccer is a low scoring game, but on November 19, 1969, before a crowd of 100, 000 in Rio di Janeiro, Pele: scored his 1, 000th goal. He was not only a high scorer, but a master of ball handling as well. It seemed that the ball was somehow attached to his feet as he moved down the field.
In 1970 Pele: again played for Brazil's World Cup team, and in Mexico City they beat Italy for the championship. It was Pele:'s play, both in scoring and in setting up other goals, that won them the title. When he announced that he would retire from international competition after a game to be played July 18, 1971, plans were made to televise the event throughout the world. He had scored a total of 1, 086 goals. After his retirement he continued to play until he was signed to play for the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League for a reported three-year, $7 million contract. A year later New York was at the top of their division, and in 1977 the Cosmos won the league championship. Pele: retired for good after that victory, but continued to be active in sports circles, becoming a commentator and promoter of soccer in the United States. When the World Cup came to Detroit in 1994, Pele: was there, capturing the hearts of millions of fans around the world. Later that spring, he married his second wife, Assiria Seixas Lemos. In May of 1997, he was elected Minister of Sports in his home country of Brazil.
Further Reading Two books—Joe Marcus' The World of Pele: (1976) and Pele:'s New World (1977) by Peter Bodo and David Hirshey—provide excellent reading, as well as illustrations. The best book on Pele: is by Pele: himself—My Life and the Beautiful Game (1977).
with the world cup to be played on american soil next month, will we catch the soccer bug at last? we kicked the notion around with the gentleman ambassador of the people's sport Staging the showpiece tournament of the "world game" in the United States is like an imponderable new mission to another planet. The twenty-four countries fighting for the golden sculpted trophy in the World Cup soccer finals face possible hostility, polite tolerance, or utter indifference in a nation where most people still think soccer is for very small boys and girls or something fashionable to play at college. For millions of passionate followers around the globe, it's serious business and a recurring highlight of their lives. FIFA (Federation of International Football Associations) hopes the all-body athleticism of soccer, universal media coverage, and the touching enthusiasm of traveling fans and immigrant communities will finally win a place in American hearts for what Brazilian legend Pele: calls "our beautiful game." Most Popular Job Interview: What Not To Do How To Write A Strategic Plan: A Simple Outline 5 Super Tips To Get Rid Of Your Public Speaking Fear: How To Overcome Public Speaking Anxiety SWOT Analysis - To Make Your Business More Profitable Lethal Job Interview Mistakes Brazil has built a team to do that, starring prolific goal-scorers Romario and Bebeto and mid-field colossus Rai. While the "samba soccer" of the 1970 victors is probably beyond the present squad, Brazil will triumph in this year's World Cup if the players can avoid the self-destructive squabbling over tactics and money that left them misshapen in past finals. Defending champion Germany has no such problems, its renowned organization and efficiency making it the most feared and fearless of all. Expect few surprises, because the World Cup can be as predictable as the Oscars. European big guns such as the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Belgium will be among the last to go home. Pele:, fifty-three, has much invested in the proceedings, despite a legal dispute with the son-in-law of FIFA president Dr. Joao Havelange that caused the latter to bar him from the ceremonial draw. Pele: is spokesman for official World Cup sponsor MasterCard, has exclusive rights to World Cup tourist packages in Brazil, and is promoting a new electronic game and comic-book-style story of his life called Pele:zinho. On returning to New York from Tunisia, where he had been attending the African Nations Cup finals in April, he gave typically diplomatic replies to our written questions. GRANT McCOOL: By bringing the World Cup to the United States, do you think soccer organizers can finally ignite strong interest in the game here at a time when there are plans for a new professional American soccer league? Pele:: The World Cup has already attracted tremendous support and interest from major American corporations, and this is very important for the growth of soccer in North America. This will be a tremendous foundation for Major League Soccer next year. Obviously, sports like baseball and football will remain as strong as ever, but with the boost of the World Cup, soccer will have an opportunity to grow again at every level. GM: Can soccer followers worldwide and particularly an American public that is largely skeptical about the sport expect entertainment and flair in this World Cup?
Pele:: Yes. The reason they can is because this tournament will have some first-time participants like Greece, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia, while the presence of teams like Cameroon will bring a lot of entertainment. When you add the Netherlands and Brazil, two teams that are in very good shape at the moment, they will bring a type of game that the American people will enjoy watching. GM: Roy Hodgson, the English manager of the Swiss team, originally told his squad to remain chaste from early June until they complete their World Cup games. Does sex interfere with playing well?
Pele:: Sex itself is not a problem. What really affects an athlete is the drinking and the lack of sleep that sometimes go with sex. GM: You acted in the American-made soccer movie Victory . How many takes were needed to get that spectacular goal you scored in the film?
Pele:: The great John Huston, who directed the movie, made fourteen takes of my bicycle kick and selected, believe it or not, the first take. GM: Are you bitter because Dr. Havelange banned you from the World Cup draw in Las Vegas last December and will not be sending you an official FIFA invitation to the tournament?
Pele:: When, for most of your life, you have been playing, promoting, and supporting our beautiful game all over the world, you don't need an invitation from anybody to attend an event that you have been part of for thirty-six years. GM: Do you think the U.S. team has the ability to reach the second round? If you were the U.S. coach, how would you instruct your players to approach this World Cup as host nation?
Pele:: I believe the U.S. has a good chance to move on to the second round despite being in a very tough group with Switzerland, Colombia, and Romania. They must play as a team with each player giving 100 percent of the talent that God gave him. As a host team, they should not feel the pressure that they must win at any cost. They should play relaxed. It's not the end of the world if they lose. I lost in 1966, but I won in 1970.