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Pele's success did not come easy. He was born in Tres Coracoes, Brazil by a very poor family. His father, Joao Ramos do Nascimento was also a soccer player until he fractured his leg, ending his career as a soccer player.
Pele started playing soccer at a very young age. When he was a child, Pele and his family moved to Bauru in the interior of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, where he learned to master the art of soccer. At fifteen, he observed his father play soccer for hours, hoping that someday he would become a professional player himself.
Pele played soccer with his neighborhood friends, often going barefoot and improvising with coconuts for balls and cans as goalposts. Pele began playing soccer for a local team when he was a teenager. He was discovered at age of 11 by one of the country's player, Waldemar de Brito. He was the one who brought Pele to Bauru, Sao Paulo and told the club's directors he was going to be one of the greatest player in the world.
Waldemar was right, Pele's impact was immediate. On his first professional appearance for the team, he scored a goal right away. He was only sixteen.
At the age of seventeen, he was selected to play in the Brazil's national team in the world cup of 1958 in Sweden and he astonished the world by being the player who scored the most goals including two in the championship game to help Brazil win its first world cup title. He was only seventeen years old, and already a legend.
Four years later he played on Brazil's world cup team at in the finals in Chile, but an injured suffered in the first game of the tournament prevented him from helping Brazil win its second world cup title.
Many clubs throughout the world offered a lot of money to sign the young and promising player, but the government of Brazil declared Pelé an official national treasure to prevent him from signing a contract in another country.
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Also, in the 1966 world cup in England, Pele was the victim of some brutal tackles from defenders of opposite teams and left the finals injured and in tears. But the best team of him was still to come.
At the world cup final in Mexico in 1970, Pele led one of the greatest teams ever brought together to win Brazil's third world cup title. In the final game, he scored a glorious goal which was Brazil's 100th world cup goal. He became the only player to participate in three World Cup victories. By 1974, when he retired for the first time, Pele had scored 1200 goals in 1253 games and became a Brazilian national
He made 1281 goals in 1363 matches, which is all time world record, also
top Brazilian goalscorer of all-time, and IOC Athlete of the Century 1999.
Clubs he once joined were Santos, from 1956-1974, and New York Cosmos from
1975-1977, right after he retired from Brazilian Football. Pele then signed up with the New York Cosmos in 1977. His talent and enthusiasm on and off the field brought thousands to the stadium and created a new national awareness about the game of soccer. His contract with the Cosmos, made him the highest played athlete in the world at that time. In 1977, after leading the Cosmos to a league championship, he retired again and became an international ambassador for the sport.
Coming to play in the United States for the New York Cosmos, Pele was able to change many lives by showing to millions of people a sport they had never seen or heard of before. Without him, soccer would not be what it is today.
The last game Pele played as a professional was on October 1,1977, joined by a huge crowd at Giants Stadium, against his old time Santos.It was sold out six weeks before the game, coverd by 650 journalists, and broadcasted to 38 nations. He played the first half of the game with the Cosmos scoring a a goal on a rocket and the second half with Santos.
Pele has won many Club titles, like in 1958 when his second time as the top
goalscorer in Sao Paulo league with 58 goals.
International Honors, in 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden, they won; In 1959
Copa America finalist, 1959 top goalscorer in Copa America with 9 goals,
1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile winner, 1966 FIFA World Cup in England,
and 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, winner.
In 1980, Pele beat out a list of Olympic greats including Muhammad Ali
and Carl Lewis. The world's National Olympics Committees have voted Pele
as No. 1 in their top five Athletes of the Century even though he's the only one of the
five who didn't take part in the Olympics.
In 1993, Pelé was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. He has also done extensive work for children's causes through UNICEF. In 2000 Pelé was named second for the "Sportsman of the Century" award.
After his retirement, he also took his energy as an athlete and put it into his career as a global pitchman. He has spent time broadcasting, writing columns, representing products such as Coca-Cola, MasterCard and Viagra, and even dabbling in politics when he became Brazil's Minister of Sport in 1994. Pele also published several best selling autobiographies and composed musical pieces, including the entire soundtrack for the film Pele (1997).