He is an honorary British ‘knight’, the United Nations Ambassador for ecology and environment and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. He was appointed as ‘The Extraordinary Minister of Sports’ of his country few years back and passed a law which is now known by his own name, to reduce corruption in sports in his country.
One of the ‘100 Most Important people’ of the century (as per TIME magazine), the ‘King of Football’, he is Edison Arantes do Nascimento, fondly called ‘Pele’ .
Being a football fan myself, I have always wished that I was born earlier so that I could watch him. Pelé began playing for the Brazilian club Santos at the age of 15 and the Brazilian national team at 16, and won his first World Cup at 17. He went on to play for Santos for 17 Seasons and 4 World cups for Brazil (winning 3 of them), highest ever by a player, and he scored 1087 Goals in 1120 Appearances.
Pele is known for his technique and natural talent with the ball, his dribbling and passing, powerful shots, truly exceptional heading ability and a lot of almost miraculous goals something which gives him almost a supernatural and an extremely charismatic persona at least for me.
During his time at Santos, a lot of famous clubs tried to get him to play for them, but the Government prevented him from moving out by branding him as the ‘National Treasure of Brazil’.
Some interesting facts I came across about him on Wikipedia, only goes to show how magical he was-
On 19 November 1969, Pelé scored his 1000th goal in all competitions. This was a highly anticipated moment in Brazil. The goal, called popularly O Milésimo (The Thousandth), occurred in a match against Vasco Da Gama, when Pelé scored from a penalty kick.
In March 1961, Pelé scored the gol de placa (goal worthy of a plaque), at the Maracanã which was regarded as so spectacular that a plaque was commissioned with a dedication to the most beautiful goal in the history of the Maracanã
In 1967, the two factions involved in the Nigerian Civil War agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire so they could watch Pelé play a game in Lagos.
Pele’s first World Cup was in 1958 when he was just 10 months into professional football. He became the youngest ever goal scorer that time at the age of 17. He scored six goals in four matches and tied for the second place in the goal tally. His first goal, in this tournament is regarded as one of the ‘Best Goals in the history of World Cup’.
Pele also had a three year stint in US with New York Cosmos where he contributed majorly in increasing awareness and interest about the game. He played 107 Matches and scored 67 Goals for New York Cosmos. Once when Santos, his old team came to play Cosmos, Pele played one half for each team. Pele scored for Cosmos and they won, post-which Pele went around the stadium carrying both the Brazilian and the US National flags. It was a moment of great inspiration for football fans.
It’s these stories which inspire me to go ahead and pursue what I love to do rather than taking something up with a handsome salary. And then I could extend my skills and talent to other things like Pele did. After his years of glory, Pele has written an autobiography. He has been a part of films like ‘Escape to Victory’ and has been mentoring and coaching several clubs. He recently worked with Ubisoft, which is a gaming company, on a game called ‘Academy of Champions’ where he appears as the coach to the player.
And for being the multidimensional personality that he is, for having done so much for the game of Football and having lived such a glorious life, he will be remembered for years to come.
[Image courtesy: http://www.dhahar.com/images/pele.jpg]