When it comes to the most popular sport around the world, there is little to no arguing the fact that soccer comes up in the number one spot. And when it comes to the greatest player that has ever played the most popular sport, there is also little to no argument. That distinction would have to go to Pele. Here I will take you throughout his career and show you just why he is almost unanimously seen as the best player in soccer history.
Pele was born in Sao Paulo state, Brazil on October 23rd 1940 as Edson Arantes do Nascimento and first got the nickname Pele while he was in school, and the name would follow him for the rest of his career and life. He first learned the game from his father, who was a soccer player. Despite this, Pele and his family grew up in poverty and Pele often had to use a sock stuffed with newspaper or a grapefruit as a ball as he couldn’t afford an actual soccer ball.
Throughout his youth, he played and dominated for a number of junior teams and when he was 15 years old, he got a tryout with Santos FC. Within a year, he was not only a starter on the team, but was also the leading scorer in the entire league, all by the time he was 16. As a result, he was extremely sought after by some of the biggest teams in Europe such as Real Madrid, Manchester United and more. However, he didn’t join any of these teams and the reason why was that he was actually declared an “official national treasure” by the government of Brazil, which meant he couldn’t be transferred out of the country. As a result, he played almost his entire career in his home nation of Brazil.
And boy, what a career it was. In 638 games with Santos FC, Pele scored an astonishing 619 goals. While this is unbelievable and impressive, the reason Pele is often seen as the best of all time is for his international play. Pele first joined the Brazilian national team when he was only 16 years old and in total, he won three World Cups with the Brazilian national team, which is the most World Cups of any player in soccer history. On top of that, he is also the all-time leading scorer for Brazil with 77 goals in 91 games. Also, he actually has the Guinness world record for most goals in a soccer career with an amazing 1281 goals.
In 1999, he was voted world player of the century, basically cementing his spot as the greatest to ever play the game. The guy could do it all from pass, dribble, score and so much more. It is unlikely that we will ever be blessed with another player of his caliber (especially in the international game) in history.