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"Every kid around the world who plays soccer wants to be Pelé. I have a great responsibility to show them not just how to be like a soccer player, but how to be like a man."

— Pelé

Pelé's New York Cosmos uniform, 1976
Artifact Detailsview larger

— Gift of the North American Soccer League


Pelé
World's Greatest Soccer Star

Pelé, the world's greatest soccer player, electrified the world's most popular sport. At age 15, he joined the Santos soccer team in Brazil, the youngest member of the team. He led the national team to World Cup championships in 1958, 1962, and 1970. With dazzling skill, speed, and ball control, Pelé set every scoring record in Brazil. In international matches, he posted an unprecedented average of one goal per game. In 1969, Pelé scored his 1,000th career goal and gave the roaring crowd his trademark salute, a moment fixed in soccer history.

Pelé left Brazil and joined the New York Cosmos in 1974. Although soccer was the most popular sport in the world, it was barely acknowledged in the United States. Pelé's international fame and athletic performances helped bring American soccer into the mainstream where it continues to flourish.

Name: Edson Arantes do Nascimento
Born: Tres Coracoes, Brazil, 1940–
  • World Cup Champion, 1958, 1962, 1970
  • North American Soccer League Champion, 1977
  • 1,281 career goals
  • International Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, 1993
  • Brazilian Minister of Sports, 1995
  • International Peace Award, 1978
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