Magical’ Pele was the global football icon who won three World Cups with Brazil, was named after Thomas Edison, rejected Manchester United to smash records with Santos and pioneered beautiful game..

December 29, 2022

I sometimes feel football was invented for this magical player.”

That’s what Sir Bobby Charlton had to say about Pele, the greatest player of his generation and the most revered footballer of all-time.

For those lucky enough to watch the Brazil icon in his prime, the superlatives were seemingly endless.

Pele famously described football as ‘o jogo bonito’ – the beautiful game – and arguably no individual did more to make it so.

His electrifying ability with the ball at his feet and penchant for spectacular goals was the stuff of legend.

And another legend who is sadly no longer with us after his death was announced at the age of 82 on Thursday (December 29).

Brazil and the rest of the world are mourning a true icon of the game who’s legacy will continue to last for generations.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, to become known as Pele, was born in 1940 to a son of Fluminese footballer Dondinho – and was named after American inventor Thomas Edison.

He grew up in poverty in Sao Paolo and could not afford a football as a child, so had to learn to play with a grapefruit.

Pele’s talents were quickly picked up upon and he signed for nearby Santos after reportedly telling club directors he would be ‘the greatest player in the world’.

Such bold confidence from a 15-year-old… but the supreme faith in his abilities was wholly justified.

He was still 15 when he made his debut for Santos and made his Brazil debut just a year later.

Pele and the World Cup became synonymous and is what elevated him to global superstar status.

He was just 17 when he won his first World Cup in 1958, scoring in the final and remains the youngest player to ever do so.

It was a career-defining moment for the boy from Sao Paolo as he etched his name into the record books.

By the time the 1962 World Cup rolled around four years later, Pele was rated the best player in the world.

However, he got injured in the second match and was out for the rest of the tournament as Garrincha then starred to bring home another trophy.

He would have to wait until 1970 for his third, and final, World Cup triumph in arguably one of the best and most exciting teams in history, lining up alongside the likes of Rivelino and Jairzinho in attack.

Their clash with England in the group stages produced some iconic moments from Gordon Banks’ magnificent save to his warm embrace with Bobby Moore after the final whistle.