7 Ultimate Reason The Brazilian Legend, Pele Is The Greatest Of All Time
Whenever there is a debate about who the greatest player of all time is, there is one name that is always mentioned: Pele.
The Brazilian won three World Cups, the first at age 17 and the last in 1970 as the talisman of arguably the greatest team ever.
He scored over 1,200 goals in his career and was the protagonist of some of the most revered and replayed moments in the history of football.
However, few will have had the pleasure of seeing him kick a ball live.
Following his death at the age of 82, BBC Sport has chosen seven of Pele’s most memorable moments to illustrate what made the Brazilian so exceptional.
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A hat-trick in his first World Cup
After making his professional debut for Santos at the age of 16, Pele was chosen to represent Brazil in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden at the age of 17. He would belie his inexperience in a remarkable manner.
In the semi-finals, he scored a hat-trick in the second half to defeat France 5-2. His first goal of the tournament, a 1-0 quarter-final victory over Wales, was merely a prelude to what was to come.
Performing on the biggest stage
But he was not yet done in Sweden.
The first was a brilliant volleyed finish following a sublime chip over a defender, and the second was a deflected header. It contributed to another 5-2 victory that gave his country its first World Cup victory.
He wrote in his autobiography about his World Cup victory: “It was indescribable, and I desired to experience it again. And again.”
Pele scores twice in the 1958 World Cup final
Pele from the halfway line
Pele was the first player to score a goal from the half-way line on the grandest of stages.
In the 1970 World Cup group match against Czechoslovakia, when the score was 1-1, he spotted goalkeeper Ivo Viktor off his line and unleashed a wild shot from inside his own half that sailed inches wide.
After what would turn out to be a 4-1 victory for Brazil, he admitted that the effort was premeditated, having observed that European goalkeepers had a tendency to wander off their line. His only regret was not saving it for a more distinguished opponent.
A stunning set-piece
Brazil faced Romania in the final group match of their 1970 World Cup campaign.
Pele would score twice in the game, with the first goal coming from a fiercely struck free kick that rendered the poor goalkeeper Stere Adamache helpless in his goalmouth.
The dummy against Uruguay
Later in the 1970 tournament, Brazil faced Uruguay in the quarterfinals. It would be another masterclass by Pele.
He did not score in the game, but he came extremely close thanks to a shot made possible by an outrageous bit of improvisation.
Tostao’s through ball to Pele in stoppage time drew out Uruguay goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz, but instead of taking it around him, Pele dummied, allowing the ball to run past him and his opponent.
Pele’s shot rolled agonisingly wide after he was forced to shoot first-time by a defender who had retreated.
Pele’s outrageous dummy against Uruguay
A tale of two leaps
Pele and his team, having reached the final of the 1970 World Cup, were not about to let the chance to win an unprecedented third World Cup slip away.
The forward opened the scoring in a one-sided final against Italy by leaping above defender Tarcisio Burgnich to head in the game’s first goal and then leaping into the arms of Jairzinho in one of the most iconic celebrations of all time…
The greatest World Cup goal?
In the 1970 World Cup final, Pele assisted on one of the greatest goals ever scored on the international stage.
The final with Italy was already over at 3-1, but Brazil saved their best for last – a true team goal that swept across the field, culminating in Pele nonchalantly laying off the ball with perfect weight for Carlos Alberto to lash it first time into the far corner of the net…
Pele sets up Carlos Alberto in 1970 World Cup final