Why Pelé is the Greatest Footballer of All Time

The most significant debate around football stadia around the world must be about who the greatest players ever to grace the game's pitches. Depending on who you ask, the answer might include many names ranging from Lionel Messi to Diego Maradona.

However, regardless of who you pick, you are probably right as long as your choices are any or most of these players, past and present; Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Diego Maradona, Ronaldinho, Zico, Michel Platini, Eusébio, Paolo Maldini, and many other individuals in that caliber.

The players you pick notwithstanding; you will readily admit that Pelé is the greatest of them all. And it is easy to see why. Consider these points below for context.

Pelé - Edson Arantes do Nascimento

Pelé - Player Days

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or, Pelé, is a former Brazilian forward. Football literature refers to him as one of the greatest players of the game, while FIFA has labelled him the greatest.

Born in 1940 in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Pelé began his club career at Santos at age 15. His national call-up came a year later. While playing for Brazil, he won the FIFA World Cup thrice, the only player to achieve the feat.

He is the all-time top goal scorer for his country with 77 goals from 92 games. Pelé also is the all-time top goal scorer for Santos, with 643 goals after 659 games. The icon led his club to two back-to-back Copa Libertadores in 1962 and 1963. In the same years, the club won the Intercontinental Cup, a contest between European Cup winners and champions of Copa Libertadores.

His debut for his country was a 1-2 defeat against Argentina. He scored his first goal during that game and became the youngest goal score for Brazil at 16 years and nine months.

During his heydays, he exhibited electrifying play and spectacular goals, qualities that earned him immense popularity. His style of play convinced fans to connect the phrase the beautiful game with football.

He signed for the New York Cosmos in 1974, and though he was well past his prime, he significantly increased the public's interest and awareness of the game in the U.S.

Honours After Retirement

Pelé is the most celebrated player in football history. The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) voted him the World Player of the 20th Century in 1999. FIFA named him alongside Diego Maradona as the Player of the 20th Century in the same year.

Time magazine included him in the list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th Century. His goal tally, 1,279 scored in all his 1,363 games, including friendlies, is the highest according to the Guinness World Record.

His accolades have come from all over, including from contemporaries. Franz Beckenbauer said there is no one to compare to him, while Johan Cruyff said he is the only player to exceed the boundaries of logic. Romário compared him to a god, while Zico said he is the greatest player of all time by some distance!
Joe David was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and writes more than good about football, preferably with a focus on African players and the success of African national teams on the football field.