Pelè was a phenomenal athlete who brought class and finesse to the game. Brazil is synonymous with the world game, and it is this passion that has produced some of the worldʼs best players. But there is only one man who is known as the King of Football. Known simply as “Pelè”, he joined Brazilʼs World Cup team at the age of 17, fulfilling the promise he made to his father to “win a World Cup” for him. He starred, scoring twice in the final against Sweden. From then on he was targeted with rough treatment from opponents who feared his influence on the game. After allegations of cheating at the World Cup in 1966 an injured Pelè swore he would not play in another World Cup. The race was then on to keep him from playing outside Brazil, the government ensuring he was the highest paid Brazilian sportsperson in the world. A wax figure was made in his likeness, and to this day, heads of state and politicians are still keen to meet the legend. Meanwhile, Pelèʼs club Santos played exhibition matches around the world, during breaks in the season. The effect of these games was extraordinary, as during the Nigerian civil war a truce was declared in order to allow people to watch Pelè play! In 1969 Pelè scored his 999th goal, sparking huge interest in the next game against Argentina, crowds hoping theyʼd be there to witness Peleʼs thousandth goal. And they were not disappointed. Crowds swarmed onto the field as history was made, and from then on Brazilians have been known to reminisce about where they were when Pelè scored the “Mallisima”.
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