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King of Football Pele passes away at 82 after losing battle to Cancer

First Published: 30th December, 2022 8:01 IST

Pele whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is considered as one of the greatest to ever step a foot on a football pitch.

Legendary Brazilian footballer Pele passed away on Thursday at the age of 82 after battling bowel cancer. A few days back, the football legend’s health deteriorated and doctors had said that he needed care for renal and cardiac dysfunction. He was also undergoing treatment for a respiratory infection that was aggravated by COVID-19.

Pele whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is considered as one of the greatest to ever step a foot on a football pitch. He is the only player to have won three FIFA World Cup titles, having won the top prize in football in 1958, 1962 and 1970. The footballer also boasts of numerous trophies at the club and country level.

Pele has also won many individual accolades as well. He won the ‘Best Young Player’ award in FIFA World Cup 1958. He has also won the prestigious Ballon d’Or award a massive seven times. His astonishing goal-scoring record makes him the rightful ‘Greatest of All-Time’.

The striker dominated the sport from the 1950s to 1970s an era marked by unstructured and decentralised record-keeping in the sport. This deprived the fans of knowing the exact measure of the footballer’s greatness. His goal-scoring record is an issue hotly debated among fans and statisticians alike.

At the international level, Pele remains his country’s alltime top-scorer. With 77 goals in 92 international appearances, this football legend’s feet and the nets could not be separated. He announced himself with a thunderous performance in 1958 World Cup, in which he scored six goals throughout the tournament. He emerged as the second-highest goal-scorer in the tournament.

This goal tally also makes Pele the 11th-highest run scorer among international footballers At the FIFA World Cup, Pele has scored 12 goals in 14 matches across four editions, which is the second most by any Brazilian after Ronaldo. This three-time world champion is also the joint-sixth in the list of highest scorers at the marquee football event.

At 17 years and 239 days of age, he is also the youngest footballer to have ever found the nets in men’s FIFA World Cup, accomplishing this feat during the quarterfinals of the 1958 edition of the tournament against Wales.

If that was not enough to give indications of a bright future, Pele turned a household name in his nation by becoming the youngest hat-trick scorer in World Cup history, against France in semis and lastly, becoming the youngest to score a goal in a World Cup final.

It was hosts Sweden who were the Pele’s victims in the summit clash. Now, at club level, in official matches, Pele has 680 club football goals. A massive 643 goals were scored for Santos
in domestic level tournaments (at national and state levels), the Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup, the precursor to the FIFA Club World Cup. This prodigious talent made his debut for the Sao Paulo club at the age of 15 and maintained his loyalty to the side for the majority of his career, staying there from 1956 to 1974. Various sources disagree about the number of matches he played for Santos though, some put it at 659 while some state the matches to be 665.

Pele scored all his remaining 37 goals for US club New York Cosmos, where he spent three years. He joined the club at age of 35 in 1975, playing 64 official matches for them before hanging up his boots in 1977.

Pele’s 643 goals for Santos was a record for most number of goals scored by a player for club till Lionel Messi broke it. He scored 672 goals in 778 matches for FC Barcelona, before he departed from the Spanish club in 2021. It took years for Messi and the footballing world to surpass Pele’s tower-like records.

First-class football is all matches played at the senior level. In the modern context, Pele should be having a total of 757 goals, which includes 680 at club level and 77 for Brazil.

But Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF) gives Pele a total of 778 goals in 846 official matches as they take into account the times he found the nets for his military team and at national selection trials.
Various numbers have been seen, when it comes to his goal-scoring tally as his youth-level football, friendlies, exhibition matches etc are also taken into consideration by different parties.

Nonetheless, his goal tally is enough to earn him the name in record books as he is in the Guinness Book of World Records for scoring most number of goals in the sport.

“The most goals scored in a specified period is 1,279 by Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele, from 7 September 1956 to 1 October 1977 in 1,363 games. His best year was 1959 with 126, and the Milesimo (1000th goal) came from a penalty for his club Santos at the Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, on 19 November 1969 when playing his 909th first-class match.

He later added two more goals in special appearances,” the Guinness World Record site notes.
FIFA, the world governing body for the sport and CONMEBOL, the South American football federation, has put his tally at 1,281, including two goals for Santos in “special appearances” made after retirement that Guinness does not count.

FIFA, has started to use the phrase “more than 1,200” to describe his goal tally in recent years.
Pele himself states his goal tally to be 1,283. But the RSSF again comes in with tally of 1,303 goals in 1,392 matches. Regardless of what his true goal statistics could be, there is no denying that this great accomplishment on and off the field is astonishing and makes him the true “GOAT” or the “King of Football”.




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