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Pelé is football itself! |13 January 2023

Pelé is football itself!

Pele with the World Cup trophy in 1970

He lived by the slogan “If you are first you are first, if you are second, you are nothing”, so he always tried to be the first.

His greatest achievement is winning the World Cup three times, something no one else in the football history has done!

He entered the world of football like a meteor, made his international debut at 16 years and nine months old, scored in his first game against Argentina and is still the youngest goalscorer for Brazil!


1958 World Cup

He also made history with World Cup records. At 17 years old, he was the youngest World Cup goalscorer, as well as the youngest player and the youngest goalscorer in the final. Moreover, in the final against Sweden, he scored one of the most beautiful goals in the history of the World Cups throwing the ball over a defender in the penalty area, before shooting past the goalkeeper.

What were the Brazilian national team before Pelé?

An unsuccessful team!

The Brazilians were once second (1950) and third (1938) and never world champions.

Having won the Jules Rimet Trophy for the first time with Pelé, they surpassed other countries in the number of titles in just 12 years (1958, 1962 and 1970).

They also have the longest unbeaten run with 13 matches, which has not been repeated so far in the major international football competition.

After Pelé retired, they managed to win only two World Cup titles in 50 years (1994 and 2002).


Copa América

Unlike Argentina's Lionel Messi who won the continental competition in only their sixth attempt, Pelé participated in the South American Football Championship only once and was the runner-up, the best player and the top scorer with 8 goals in 1959.

In total, he scored 77 goals in 92 matches for Brazil and only Neymar has managed to reach him in the number of goals last year, at his 124th international game.

During his career, Pelé scored over 1,300 goals in official competitive and friendly tournaments and matches. I would like to draw the attention of those who do not take friendlies seriously, that since there were few official games at that time, teams often organised commercial competitions, tours, and friendly matches, which were not inferior to official games in the struggle for victory.

His personal best is 8 goals for Santos against Botafogo de Ribeirão Preto at the 1964 Campeonato Paulista when they won 11-0!

He is a legend!

He is the ‘King of Football’!

He is football itself!

"Football is the only sport where you put people together, it doesn’t matter if you are rich, or poor, or black, or white. It is one nation. This is the beauty of football,” said Pelé, who is considered the best footballer and one of the best athletes of the 20th century.


1970 World Cup

The peak of his career was at México '70.

In general, the Brazil of 1970 were considered one of the best football teams of all time.

Six wins in as many matches and with 19 goals. Since then, no other team have scored so many goals at a single World Cup.

Their 4-1 win over Italy in the final is also one of the three biggest margins of victory in the finals of the Fifa World Cup.

Pelé scored four goals with six assists, including two in the final. No other player has provided so many assists at a single World Cup.


Tofig Bahramov

He was one of the assistant referees of the 1970 World Cup semifinal match between Brazil and Uruguay and won by the former on a 3-1 score. He is the same legendary Bahramov who was the linesman of the 1966 World Cup final between England and West Germany (4-2, a.e.t.) and played a special role in giving the contentious Geoff Hurst’s famous second goal.

In his book titled ‘The referee points to the centre spot’ published in 1971, the referee of Azerbaijani origin wrote that after the match he was watching the extra-time of the ongoing another semifinal game between Italy and West Germany (4-3) together with the Brazilian players.

This is what he wrote:

“Despite the room in the service building where there was a TV set was large, it became tight. I was sitting on the armchair – it was the benefit of being the referee. Near by me there was Pelé sitting on a metallic chair. He's shirtless, wearing blue shorts. There were many players sitting on the floor in front of us.

“I was looking at Pelé with the corner of my eye. He was watching the match with an interest of a kid. When Gerd Müller bravely advanced towards the goalkeeper, Albertosi and defender Poletti, stealing the ball and sending it into the goal, I see that Pelé involuntarily repeats his movements."

Then Müller scores his second goal of the game:

"Pelé jumps on his feet and starts to applaud:

- Müller! Müller! – he shouts with joy."

But a minute later, the Italians scored the winning goal and reached the final:

“We’ve just watched a beautiful football match. Then I’m taking out of my pocket my referee’s notebook and a pen and stretching it to Pelé. He is still under the impression of the game and can’t understand my thoughts.

- Autograph, autograph, - I’m explaining.

- Ah, autograph,‒ says Pelé as he wakes up and gently puts his signature”.



Pelédid not win the Ballon d'Or in 1958 and 1970, or any other year, because at the time he played, this award was given to the best player in Europe only. He spent most of his career in South America.

If he had accepted the offer of Inter or Juventus or any other European clubs, Pelé's name would have been included in the list for the most expensive transfers of the 1960s, not players like Italians Angelo Sormani and Pietro Anastasi or Danish Harald Nielsen.



But he was happy without Europe, because he played for one of the best clubs in the world at that time. They won the Libertadores Cup in 1962 and 1963, as well as the Intercontinental Cup, beating Benfica and then Milan.

There were seven Santos players in Brazil's 22-man squad at the 1962 World Cup, where they were champions. After some more research, I became aware there are eight Santos footballers played for Brazil against West Germany and Italy in 1963, and against England in 1969.


Ballon d’Or Dream Team

French football magazine France Football held an election with a jury of journalists in 2020 and determined the all-time team. It is natural to have Peléin this team, who include the best players in terms of positions.

True, according to the number of points won, he was behind Lionel Messi (792), Franz Beckenbauer (738) and Cristiano Ronaldo (730) in the overall list. But for the sake of justice, it should be emphasised that, unlike them, he competed with Diego Maradona, another legend in his position and they received 655 and 602 points, respectively.

As a juror, I also took part for the Ballon d'Or Dream Team poll, without hesitation, I wrote Pelé's name first on my list of attacking midfielders, and then in descending order I chose Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Ferenc Puskás and Roberto Baggio.

That's how Tostão, Pelé former teammate in the Brazil team, described him: "I think Pelé was better than all of them. For me there's no comparison. Pelé was far more complete. He had every quality that a forward could have. He didn't have one defect. Maradona was spectacular, but he wasn't on Pelé's level physically, he didn't score the number of goals Pelé did. Messi's spectacular, but he doesn't head the ball like Pelé did, he doesn't shoot as well with both feet, he doesn't pull off the moves that Pelé did. Cristiano Ronaldo is an exceptional player, but he doesn't have the ability that Pelé had and he doesn't pull off the incredible passes that Pelé did. If you take the qualities of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, put them together, then you'd have a player to compare to Pelé!”.

Another feature of Peléis that, unlike legends such as Alfredo di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás, Johan Cruijff and Franz Beckenbauer, Diego Maradona and Michel Platini, he did not go into coaching. Although he retired as a professional footballer in 1977, he has never been forgotten. His name has become synonymous with football.

Pelé, who recently passed away at the age of 82, once told the online magazine The Talks: “If I pass away one day, I am happy because I tried to do my best. My sport allowed me to do so much because it’s the biggest sport in the world.”


Farewell, happy man!

Football will never forget you!


By Rasim Movsumzadeh

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