With the 2018 World Cup gearing up in Russia, it’s only fitting that today’s #TBT FIFA sports blog remembers Pele – universally considered soccer’s greatest player ever.
Here’s a chapter excerpt from my Favorite Single Named Athletes sports comic book that acknowledges the incomparable Pele.
…..Mention the name Edson Arantes de Nascimento and only staunch soccer fans will recognize it.
However, say the simple name Pele, and nearly everyone on the planet, whether soccer fan or not, will immediately recognize this extraordinary Brazilian.
Pele is synonymous with the world’s most popular sport. Universally regarded as the best international footballer (soccer player) of all-time, Pele received his simple nickname as a child in Brazil. A priest bestowed the moniker on him which, in Portuguese, aptly means “always playing soccer.” And that’s what Pele did; he always played soccer – often and brilliantly.
King Pele, the King of Football or the Black Pearl dominated international football whenever and wherever he took the pitch. Pele’s storied resume is perhaps the greatest in the sport’s history.
For starters, Pele’s individual accomplishments are staggering. In 1958 the powerfully built 5’8″ and 180 lb. Brazilian became the youngest player to ever compete in a World Cup. He was also the youngest to record a hat trick in World Cup play (that same year).
In addition, he scored an incredible 1,281 goals in 1,363 career matches. His speed and athleticism on the pitch were equalled by his uncanny footwork, ball control and pin-point passing.
Pele honed his amazing soccer skills by playing futebol de salao (indoor soccer) in Brazil where the action was faster on a much shorter and narrower field.
Pele Recognized as Footballer of the Century
Pele’s awesome career was recognized in 1999. He was named Footballer of the Century by the International Federation of Football and Statistics and named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee.
On a broader scale, Pele’s team accomplishments are unrivaled. Pele stands as the only player in soccer history to play on three World Cup championships teams. He starred on Brazil’s 1958, 1962 and 1970 title teams. While teaming with fellow legendary Brazilian Garrincha, the duo never lost a match while wearing the Brazilian colors.
Thirdly, Pele’s off-field resume is extremely impressive as he has utilized his athletic fame for the overall good of society. In 1992, this Brazilian was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Ecology and Environment. In 1997 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
More than 40 years after his retirement, Pele’s legend continues whenever the sport of soccer is discussed. Perhaps the best way to remember this extraordinary athlete and his soccer brilliance is through the words of two other universally recognized international football legends:
Dutch midfielder Johan Cruyff claimed, “Pele was the only footballer who surpassed the boundaries of logic.”
German defender Franz Beckenbauer remarked, “Pele is the greatest player of all time. He reigned supreme for 20 years. There’s no one to compare to Pele.”
Wow! What endorsements for Pele from two of FIFA’s greatest footballers ever. It’s no wonder that the immensely likable, universally popular and inordinately talented Pele tops my list of all-time favorite Single Named Athletes.
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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!