Pelé is the first soccer player to achieve massive international acclaim. His name is regularly mentioned today, more than a quarter century after his retirement.
Apart from his popularity, Pelé's life story is the ultimate soccer dream. He began as a poor boy from the slums in Tres Coracoes, Brazil but earned fame and fortune through his talent on the pitch. Pelé's father, Dondinho, was very influential in his son's success. Dondinho was a former footballer and made sure to pass over his knowlege to young Pelé. This paid off and by the age of 15, Pelé was signed by Santos. His international debut followed just a year after on the 7th of July 1957 against Argentina at the legendary Maracanã stadium. Merely at the age of 17, Pelé was recruited to Brazil's World Cup squad. At World Cup 1958 in Sweden, he first gained attention after his goal against Wales which clinched Brazil to the next round. Pelé proved that he wasn't a fluke in the following match, scoring three goals on France. By the tournament's final, Brazilian coach Vicente Feola was confident in the talented 17-year old. His two goals at the 1958 World Cup final ascertained his status as a soccer superstar.
Thanks to Pelé's sensational scoring, his club Santos earned the Intercontinental Cup in 1962 and 1963.
At the 1962 World Cup in Chile, Pelé missed out most of the tournament due to an injury. Brazil still managed to win the trophy. At World Cup 1966, Pele was once again was forced to permanently leave the pitch after being ferociously tackled.
After England 1966, many began to doubt the Brazilian soccer player and his superstar status. He made a triumphant return at Mexico 1970 by dazzling audiences worldwide. This was the first World Cup broadcast in color and was shown across an unprecedented number of countries. In front of over 100,000 spectators at Azteca Stadium and millions of TV viewers, Pelé scored the first goal of the 1970 World Cup final. That opened the floodgates to Brazil's crushing 4-1 victory and reclaimed Pele as the "King of Soccer".
Later in the 1970's, Pelé was signed by the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League. He eventually retired as the only player with over 1000 goals in professional football. Pele was the first commercial superstar of non-commercial soccer.