Soccer Pele

By Denise I Smithson

One of the all time greats of the game of football (soccer to our American readers) if not the greatest is of course Pele. Pele, born Edison (though he prefers Edson) Arantes do Nascimento on Oct. 23, 1940 in Brazil is nothing short of a legend in the sport. Even those who have never in their life watched a football match know his name.

The game seems nearly inconceivable without him. Pele is a man who seems to have been born to play football. His ball control and speed were both unparalleled; particularly his one of a kind passing skills. Fans serious and casual alike relished every opportunity to watch Pele. It seemed that miraculous plays were in store every time Pele had the ball. In his career, Pele scored 1,283 goals, 12 during World Cup tournaments (in 1958, 1968 and 1970). At the time, Pele was the only player to ever win three World Cup trophies.

It was Waldemar de Brito who discovered this incredible talent. de Brito started coaching Pele in 1954 and in only two years, Pele played his first professional match at the age of 16. A year later, Pele was in a starting position on Santos. He won his first World Cup at seventeen and by 1962, Pele was receiving regular offers of positions on European football teams. However, a move overseas was not in the cards for Pele - the Brazilian government declared him a national treasure, which barred his joining a foreign football club.

Pele played for the team until 1972, at which point he entered semi-retirement, playing only in especially tough games. In 1975, he came out of retirement to play for the New York Cosmos, a part of the North American League. Some said Pele was past his prime, but there is no doubt that he generated a lot of interest in the game amongst Americans and had the last laugh when he led the Cosmos to a NASL championship in 1977 during his last season.

In his homeland of Brazil, he is still regarded a national hero. He is well known for his contributions and accomplishments to football and was declared the football ambassador of the world by FIFA. He vocally supports policies that will improve the conditions of the less privileged. During his legendary career, he earned the title \"The King of Football\". His is a member of the American National Soccer Hall of Fame.

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