Football in Brazil is embedded in its culture to the point that it should come as no surprise that their prominence in the sport is so prevalent. Historically they’re the most successful nation in the sport and that’s largely due to the excellence of their homebred native Pele, the player who’s widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all time.
Pele whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento was born on October 23, 1940 in Tres Coracoes, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and was raised in a city there called Bauru, Sao Paulo.
Pele’s upbringing was one of poverty, where he lacked resources such as football boots but such shortcomings did not deter him from honing his football skills by playing barefooted on the streets. Fortunately for Pele, by the time he was 15 years old the trajectory of his career and life was already looking promising as he was selected by Santos Football Club’s junior team, and shortly thereafter promoted to the senior national team at the age of 16 for his apparent skills.
In 1958, at the age of 17, Pele commenced his career as a National player at the FIFA World Cup where he played an integral role in leading the team to its first world cup victory by scoring a hat trick in the semifinals and two goals in the final. He would also go on to win two more world cups in 1962 and 1970 in the same dazzling fashion that he did in his first. In winning three world cups he holds the distinction as the only player to accomplish this feat which only gives credence to his status as the G.O.A.T.
Pele’s impact on the field helped break down cultural barriers as his captivating style of play, accompanied by creativity, popularized the sport in regions that weren’t familiar with the sport prior to his ascent.
This unprecedented level of greatness also reflected on Brazil, his country of birth, as it helped elevate the country’s image on the global stage. Pele also inspired his fellow citizens to apply the same level of pride and skill in their aspirations.
Within the realm of his sport he also inspired many of the younger generation from different walks of life, who went on to become all-time greats. Many were from his beloved country, Brazil.
However, Pele’s ambition drove him beyond just the achievement of esteemed greatness in football, he wanted his influence to be used in other positive ways and in so doing he was an advocate for diplomacy and peace. Throughout his playing days he would put on friendly matches that would feature players from different countries as a means to promulgate his advocacy for peace and inclusivity.
No one has been able to beat King Pele’s record of scoring 58 goals in one season.
Pele was appointed Minister of Sports in Brazil from 1995 to 1999. Upon his death in December 2022 one writer summed it up perfectly in saying, “Pele was Brazil’s King and a transcendent gift to the world.” Indeed, his impact on soccer and his global footprint shall remain eternally.
Contributed by Tarik Daley
Disclaimer: Most of the information in this blog has been generated through ChatGPT.