Edson Arantes do Nascimento or better known as Pele was the most famous footballer of his generation.

Growing up in poverty

Growing up in poverty in Baruru, Sao Paulo, he was taught to play football by his father and because he could not afford a football he usually played with a sock stuffed with newspaper and tied with a string or a grapefruit. Pele played for several amateur teams in his youth, Sete de Setembro Sao Paulinho, Ameriquinha and Bauru Athletic Club juniors with which he won the state youth championships between 1954 and 1956.

Pele’s “easy” steps to becoming known all over the world

Pele joined the Santos Football Club in 1956 and helped the team win nine championship titles in 18 years. At the age of 16 he became the top scorer in the league and soon enough he was called to the Brazil national team. Pele’s first international match was against Argentina in 1957 played on the now infamous Maracana stadium. When he scored in that match, at the age of 16 years and 9 months Pele became the youngest player to score in international football.

Football player Pele dribbling

Pele played in four Brazilian World Cup teams, including the country’s three World Cup wins in 1958, 1962 and 1970. After the 1962 World Cup wealthy European clubs such as Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United tried to sign him, but the government of Brazil declared Pele an ‘official national treasure’ in order to prevent him being transferred out of the country.

Retirement and playing for the “Cosmos”

Pele retired at the same club at which he began playing professionally, Santos Football Club in 1974 only to come out of his retirement in 1975 when he joined New York Cosmos to play in the newly formed North American Soccer League.

Though well past his prime at this point, Pele is credited with significantly increasing public awareness and interest in soccer in the United States. He led Cosmos to the 1977 NASL championship in this third season at the club. He finally retired the same year and went on to write his autobiography entitled “My Life and the Beautiful Game”.

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