Edson Arantes do Nascimento, more widely admired by the world as "PelÃ©", was born on October 23, 1940, in a small village in Brasil called TrÃªs CoraÃ§Ãµes in the Brasilian state of Minas Gerais. He was baptized in the municipal church called Igreja da Sagrada FamÃlia de Jesus, Maria e JosÃ©. His father, JoÃ£o Ramos do Nascimento, or Dondinho, as he was known in the soccer world, was also a professional player. He was well-known as one of the best-heading players in his time. He was a center forward for Fluminense until an injury kept him from playing professional division one soccer. His mother Celeste gave PelÃ© and the rest of his family attention to their needs and a lot of love. When he was a child, PelÃ© and his family moved to BaurÃº, in the interior of the Brasilian state of SÃ£o Paulo, where he learned to master the art of futebol. One day he himself confessed that he "tinha trÃªs coraÃ§Ãµes [had three hearts]", referring to the city where he was born, TrÃªs CoraÃ§Ãµes, and to BaurÃº and Santos.
PelÃ©'s first job was shining shoes. But he had always dreamed of playing soccer.
PelÃ©'s soccer career started early. After playing in a few amateur teams like Baquinho and Sete Setembro, at the age of 11, while playing for an uncoached team called Ameriquinha, he was discovered by a former Brasilian World Cup player named Waldemar de Brito. De Brito recognized PelÃ©'s skills and invited him to join the team he was organizing (Clube AtlÃ©tico BaurÃº?). When PelÃ© was fifteen, in 1956, de Brito took him to the city of SÃ£o Paulo to try out for the professional club called Santos Futebol Clube (SFC). That day, de Brito told the team directors that "This boy will be the greatest soccer player in the world."
PelÃ©'s first show came on September 7, 1956, when he played in place of the center forward Del Vecchio. He came into the game to score the sixth of the seven goals in the 7-1 Santos victory. He scored his goal on the 36th minute, in a play between Raimundinho and Tite. The ball was given to PelÃ© in the box, and even though he was surrounded by defenders, he shot on goal and the ball went under goalkeeper Zaluar's body. Zaluar became famous as the first goalkeeper to take a goal from the great PelÃ©. From there, the trip to the summit was fast. In his first league game with Santos, he scored four goals. The next season, he was a regular starter and came out score leader of the SÃ£o Paulo state league, with 32 goals.
PelÃ© in the World Cup
PelÃ© played in four World Cups: Sweden 1958, Chile 1962, England 1966, and Mexico 1970. He scored 12 goals in 14 World Cup matches.
The first game PelÃ© played in in this world cup was Brasil's third, versus the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). He was put in the game by request of the leaders of the team, who spoke to Vicente Feola about putting PelÃ© and Garrincha on the field after winning their first game versus Austria 3-0 and drawing against England 0-0. In that game against the USSR, PelÃ© did not score, but Brasil won 2-0 with two goals by VavÃ¡. In the next game, PelÃ© scored the only goal. In the semi-finals against France, which Brasil won 5-2, PelÃ© had a hat trick, and VavÃ¡ and Didi each scored one goal. In the final against Sweden, PelÃ© scored two goals (see goal video), VavÃ¡ scored twice, and Zagalo scored once to prevail over the Swedes 5-2.
Right on in the first Brasilian game, versus Mexico, PelÃ© scored one goal, and Brasil won the game. Unfortunately, this cup, even though it was to be PelÃ©'s cup, ended early for the great star. After ten minutes into the game against Czechoslovakia, he pulled a muscle and was out of the tournament. The cup then became ManÃ© Garrincha's cup, while Amarildo substituted for PelÃ©.
Everything seemed to have gone wrong for Brasil in this cup. Somehow, 43 players were called to the squad, and when the team went to Europe, two of their best players, goalkeeper Valdir and forward ServÃlio, were cut out. In the first game, Brasil beat Bulgaria by a score of 2-0, with one goal by PelÃ© and the other by Garrincha. Then the team lost against Hungary 3-1, and in the next game, PelÃ© was violently forced out of the match because of injuries inflicted by the Portuguese twice before he was kept out of the game for its remainder.
This was the Cup that let Brasil take the Jules Rimet home to stay. In the first game, they triumphed over Czechoslovakia 4-1, with two goals by Jairzinho, one by PelÃ©, and one by Rivelino. Following in the Checks' footsteps, England was beaten 1-0, with a goal by Jairzinho. Another victory came versus Romania, which Brasil won 3-2 with two goals by PelÃ© and one by Jairzinho. Brasil then beat Peru by a score of 4-2. In the semifinal against Uruguay, Brasil came over the top with a score of 3-1. The final game was against Italy, which Brasil won 4-1 with goals from PelÃ© (see goal video), GÃ©rson, Jairzinho, and Carlos Alberto. In this cup PelÃ© had the 3 best "almost goals" in history, and gave the English goalkeeper Banks fame for the best save in the history of the world cup when Banks stopped one of PelÃ©'s headers.
Three Seasons with the New York Cosmos
"It all started in 1971 when I was with Santos FC in Kingston, Jamaica, and received a visit from Mr. Clive Toye, general manager of a new team in New York called Cosmos; Phill Woosnam, who later would become a member of the NASL; and Kurt Lamm, general secretary of the US Soccer Ferderation. They wanted to know if I wanted to play in the United States for the Cosmos when I retired from Santos. When professor Mazzei translated their intentions, I said, 'Professor, tell them they're crazy! I will never play for anyone else after Santos!' Three years later, after my last game for Santos, Clive Toye called me from New
York and said that the Cosmos wanted to talk to me about a possible contract. And after six months of meetings all over the world, messages, telegrams, phone calls, I decided to accept the proposition from Warner Communications, owner of the New York Cosmos, to return to the professional life for three more seasons."
In 1993, PelÃ© was inducted to the United States Soccer Hall of Fame. After a trip to Lima, Peru, to play a game, an inscription was placed on the stadium wall: "Here played PelÃ©". Once he even stopped a war in Nigeria: A 48-hour armistice was signed with Biafra so that both sides could go watch PelÃ© play a round of exhibition matches. When he left the national team on July 18, 1971, 200,000 people grieved in the monumental MaracanÃ£, and he gave his historic number 10 jersey to a ten-year-old boy.
PelÃ© is the only person to have won three world cups as a player (1958, 1962, and 1970), and scored 1,281 (or 1284) goals in 1,363 professional games, which is probably the all-time record in soccer. That's a lifetime goal average of 0.93 goals per game. In 1959 he established the Paulist (SÃ£o Paulo) league goal-scoring record for one season - 126 goals. On November 21, 1964, he scored eight goals in one game against Botafogo of Rio de Janeiro. On November 19, 1969, he scored his famous 1,000th goal from a
penalty kick on the 34th minute of the game against Vasco da Gama and dedicated it "...para as criancinhas pobres do Brasil...." (to the poor little children of Brasil) and to the elderly and suffering peoples of Brasil. PelÃ© also participated in what is known to be the "Golden Age" of the Libertadores Cup from 1960 to 1963, during which the great Uruguayan team PeÃ±arol faced the legendary Santos for the final games. PeÃ±arol won in 1960 and 61, while Santos took the championship the other two years.
PelÃ© defined the role of the playmaker/midfielder type. He led some of the greatest Brasilian players of all time - VavÃ¡, Didi, Garrincha, and others. Many said PelÃ© would have been the best in any position he played. PelÃ© once insisted to the manager of Santos that he play goalkeeper. On January 19, 1964, he substituted Santos goalkeepr Gilmar, who had been ejected, in the semi-final game of the Brasil Cup. For five minutes, after scoring three goals, PelÃ© played with the number one jersey and made two spectacular saves that saved Santos the spot in the finals.