Soccer players today are still overshadowed by the accomplishments of the Brazilian soccer star Pelé.
Born on Oct. 23, 1940, Edson Arantes do Nascimento — better known as Pelé — didn’t allow his family’s poverty to hold him back from exploring his soccer talents. His youth soccer coach Waldemar de Brito got Pelé’s parents to let him try out for a professional soccer club at only 15 years old. After signing with the Santos professional soccer club, Pelé scored a goal — the first of his professional career — before turning 16.
He was recruited for the Brazilian national team and as he continued his career was considered a national treasure. In the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, Pelé scored four goals throughout the games.
His plans to retire were deterred when he opted to play for the New York Cosmos. He rounded out his career scoring 1,281 goals out of a total of 1,363 games. His final game was Oct. 1, 1977, an exhibition game between the New York Cosmos and Santos, his previous team. He played a half with each team in front of a sold out arena.
His humanitarian efforts with UNICEF earned him the International Peace Award in 1978. In 1999 he was voted by the International Olympic Committee as athlete of the century.
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(Photo: Evening Standard/Getty Images)
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