Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Pele - World Cup Football Legends

Edison Arantes do Nascimento, KBE (born 23 October 1940), best known by his nickname Pelé (Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation: [peˈlɛ], usual English pronunciation: /ˈpɛleɪ/) is a retired Brazilian football player. While his birth certificate shows his first name as Edison, it is as Pelé that he has become a sporting legend. He is widely regarded by polls among football experts, former players and fans as the greatest footballer of all time.

In his native Brazil, Pelé is hailed as a national hero. He is known for his accomplishments and contributions to the game of football in addition to being officially declared football ambassador of the world by FIFA and a national treasure by the Brazilian government. 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). 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).

Pele - World Cup Soccer Legend

Spotted by football star Waldemar de Brito, 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. Pelé played as an inside forward, striker, and what later became known as the playmaker position. 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 wasn't 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.

 Early Years

Pelé was born in Três Corações, Brazil, the son of a Fluminense footballer Dondinho (born João Ramos do Nascimento) and Maria Celeste Arantes. He was named after the American inventor Thomas Edison,[16] 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. 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. Apart from the assertion that the name is derived from that of Bilé, the word has no known meaning, although it is the name of a Hawaiian volcano goddess and it does resemble the Irish language word peile, meaning football.

Pele 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 or a grapefruit. In 1954, several members of the Ameriquinha team, including Pelé, were invited to join the Baquinho boys' team to be managed by former Brazilian international Waldemar de Brito, who played in the 1934 World Cup in Italy. At the age of fifteen, he joined the Santos FC junior team. He played for one season before joining the senior team

National Team Career      

Pelé's first international match was a 2–1 defeat against Argentina on 7 July 1957. In that match, he scored his first goal for Brazil aged 16 years and 9 months to become the youngest player to score in International football.

1958 World Cup

His first match in the World Cup was against USSR in the first round of the 1958 FIFA World Cup. He was the youngest player of that tournament, and at the time the youngest ever to play in the World Cup. He scored his first World Cup goal against Wales in quarterfinals, the only goal of the match, to help Brazil advance to semifinals, while becoming the youngest ever World Cup goalscorer at 17 years and 239 days. Against France in the semifinal, Brazil was leading 2–1 at halftime, and then Pelé scored a hat-trick, becoming the youngest in World Cup history to do so.

On 19 June 1958 Pelé became the youngest player to play in a World Cup final match at 17 years and 249 days. He scored two goals in the final as Brazil beat Sweden 5–2. His first goal, a lob over a defender followed by a precise volley shot, was selected as one of the best goals in the history of the World Cup. When the match ended, he passed out on the field, and had to be attended by the medical staff. He then recovered, and was visibly compelled by the victory, in tears as being congratulated by his teammates. He finished the tournament with six goals in four matches played, tied for second place, behind record-breaker Just Fontaine.

1962 World Cup

In the first match of the 1962 World Cup, against Mexico, Pelé assisted on the first goal and then scored the second one to go up 2–0 after a run past four defenders. He injured himself while attempting a long-range shot against Czechoslovakia. This would keep him out of the rest of the tournament, and forced coach Aymoré Moreira to make his only lineup change of the tournament. The substitute was Amarildo, who performed well for the rest of the tournament. Yet it was Garrincha who would take the leading role and carry Brazil to their second World Cup title.

1966 World Cup

The 1966 World Cup was marked among other things for its brutal fouling on Pelé by the Bulgarian and Portuguese defenders. Brazil was eliminated in the first round, playing only three matches. Pelé scored the first goal from a free kick against Bulgaria, but due to his injury, a result of persistent fouling by the Bulgarians, he was left out for the second game against Hungary. Brazil lost that game and Pelé, although still recovering was brought back for the last crucial match against Portugal. In that game João Morais brutally fouled Pelé, but was allowed to stay on field by referee George McCabe. Pelé had to stay in the field limping for the rest of the game, since substitutes were not allowed at that time. After this game he vowed he would not play again in the World Cup, a decision he would later change.

 1970 World Cup

When Pelé was called to the national team in early 1969, he first refused, but then accepted and played in six World Cup qualifying matches, scoring six goals. The 1970 tournament in Mexico was to be Pelé's last. Brazil's squad for the tournament featured major changes in relation to the 1966 squad. Players like Garrincha, Nilton Santos, Djalma Santos, and Gilmar had already retired, but the team, with Pelé, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Gérson, Tostão, and Clodoaldo, is widely considered one of the greatest football teams ever.

In the first match, against Czechoslovakia, Pelé gave Brazil a 2–1 lead after controlling Gerson's long pass with his chest. In this match, Pelé audaciously attempted to lob goalkeeper Ivo Victor from the half-way line, only narrowly missing the Czech goal. Brazil went on to win the match, 4–1. In the first half of the match against England, he nearly scored with a header that was spectacularly saved by Gordon Banks. In the second half, he assisted Jairzinho for the only goal of the match. Against Romania, he opened the score on a direct free kick goal, a strong strike with the outside of his right foot. Later on the match he scored again to put the score 3–1. Brazil won by a final score of 3–2. In quarterfinals against Peru, Brazil won 4–2, with Pelé assisting Tostão on his team's third goal. In the semi-finals, Brazil faced Uruguay for the first time since the 1950 World Cup final round match. Jairzinho put Brazil ahead 2–1, and Pelé assisted Rivelino for the 3–1. During that match, Pelé made one of his most famous plays. Tostão gave Pelé a through ball, and Uruguay's goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz took notice of it. The keeper ran off of his line to get the ball before Pelé, but Pelé got there first, and without touching the ball, he caused it to go past the keeper, to the latter's left, while Pelé went right. Pelé went around the goalkeeper and took a shot while turning towards the goal, but he turned in excess as he shot, and the ball drifted just wide of the far post.

Brazil played Italy in the final, with Pelé scoring the opener on a header over defender Tarcisio Burgnich. He then made assists on Jairzinho's and Carlos Alberto's goals, the latter one after an impressive collective play. Brazil won the match 4–1, keeping the Jules Rimet Trophy indefinitely. Burgnich, who marked Pelé during the match, was quoted saying "I told myself before the game, he's made of skin and bones just like everyone else — but I was wrong".

Pelé's last international match was on 18 July 1971 against Yugoslavia in Rio de Janeiro. With Pelé on the field, the Brazilian team's record was 67 wins, 14 draws, and 11 losses, and went on to win three World Cups. Brazil never lost a match while fielding both Pelé and Garrincha.

South American Championship

Pelé also played in the South American Championship. In the 1959 competition he was top scorer with eight goals, as Brazil came second in the tournament.

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