Whether you call it futbol, football, or soccer, the sport has a huge following. In 2007, FIFA released the fact that there are 270 million people actively taking part in the game and many more watching. Within the incredibly popular and widespread sport, you may have heard the (deserved) praise of players like Neymar, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Dani Alves, and Cristiano Ronaldo, but there’s a much older name that may not mean as much to newer fans. A name deserving of much more recognition and praise is Pelé.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé, was born October 23, 1940.
You might’ve heard the name Pelé mentioned by young players in recent years. A.J. Styles used the name in reference to his finisher on Total Nonstop Action (TNA), but the man behind the name is much more than this. Pelé, the Brazilian forward/aggressive midfielder, was the greatest soccer player to ever lace up a pair of cleats.
Pelé started his career in an international match between his team, Brazil, and Argentina. At 16, an extremely young Pelé took to the field and scored the only goal. This feat alone was remarkable and his name and skills have extended to legend.
Pelé went on to dominate world class competition his entire career, both early in his youth, and late into his career. His last game was on July 18, 1991. His most notable moments range from remarkable headers, flawless volleys, or pinpoint accurate passes when they counted the most. He led the Brazilian squad to numerous monumental achievements. The Brazilian team repeatedly dominated of the World Cup, a tournament for which Pelé won awards including the Golden Ball, which is given to the best player in the tournament. Pelé earned the award for FIFA’s ‘Football Player of the Century, sharing the achievement with Argentine legend Diego Maradona. In 1999, the IOC elected Pelé ‘Athlete of the Century’. In 2013, he was named the global icon of football by FIFA to recognize his exceptional career in football.
Pelé was exquisite is his ability to skirt past defenders seamlessly, leaving piles of dust and confused faces in his wake. The Brazilian demigod receives a fair share of praise even today, years after his retirement in 1991. Pelé retains his position as one of (if not) the very best player to ever grace the sport.