Pele: Seven reminders why Brazilian is a footballing great

29 December 2022 0 By Total Football News
Pele is held aloft by fans after Brazil won the 1970 World CupPele won the World Cup three times with his country - in 1958, 1962 and 1970

Whenever there is debate about who is the greatest player of all time, one name is a given on the list - Pele.

The Brazilian won three World Cups - the first at 17 and the last as the talisman, in 1970, for arguably the finest ever XI.

He scored more than 1,200 career goals and is the protagonist of some of the most revered and replayed moments in football history.

And yet, many will never have had the joy of witnessing him kick a ball live.

Following his death at the age of 82, BBC Sport has selected seven of Pele's finest moments to showcase what made the Brazilian so special.

A hat-trick in his first World Cup

Having made his professional debut for Santos at the age of just 16, Pele was selected to represent Brazil in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden when he was just a year older. He would belie his inexperience in stunning fashion.

His first goal of the tournament - in the 1-0 quarter-final win over Wales - would be just a taster of what was to come in the semis, when he struck a second-half hat-trick to blow away France 5-2.

Performing on the biggest stage

But he was not yet done in Sweden.

Against the hosts in the final in Solna, he would score two more: the first, a brilliant volleyed finish after a sublime chip over a defender; the second, a steered header. It helped secure another 5-2 victory to give his country their first World Cup win.

Writing in his autobiography on that World Cup win, he said: "It was an indescribable feeling and one I wanted to experience again. And again."

Lobbed efforts from the halfway line have been seen a few times over the years in recent times, but Pele got there first - and on the biggest stage.

In the 1970 World Cup group game with Czechoslovakia, with the score at 1-1, he spotted goalkeeper Ivo Viktor off his line and launched an outrageous shot from inside his own half that sailed just inches wide.

After what would end in a 4-1 Brazil win, he admitted that the effort was all planned - devised after spotting that European goalkeepers had a tendency to wander from their line. His only regret was that he had not saved it for a more illustrious opponent.

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