The greatest soccer player of all-time, Pele, was born on this day in soccer history in 1940. The Brazilian was an ambassador for the game on the field and since his retirement off the field.
In his home country of Brazil, he is a national hero and known affectionately as "The King of Football" (O Rei do Futebol), "The King Pelé" (O Rei Pelé) or simply "The King" (O Rei).
Pele played his entire club career with two teams, his beloved Santos in Brazil and for the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. His final game was a testimonial between the two sides were he played one half for each team.
--- Pele is a soccer legend and the World Soccer Shop has official Pele gear, including some autographed gear. ---
He won his first cap with the Brazilian national team in a 2-1 defeat to Argentina on July 7, 1957 and wasted no time opening his Brazil account in the game to become the youngest player at 16 year and 9 months to score in international competition.
Pele went on to become the heartbeat of A Seleção playing in four FIFA World Cups and being the only player to win three FIFA World Cup winners medals. In his first FIFA World Cup in 1958 he scored two goals in the 5-2 win over Sweden and ended the tournament with six goals in four matches.
The 1962 FIFA World Cup ended early for Pele as he was forced out of the lineup from injury in the second match. His influence on the side was apparent in the first match against Mexico as he had assisted and scored in the 2-0 win over El Tri Colores.
The Brazil national team had changed considerably in preparation for the 1970 FIFA World Cup and Pele originally turned down an invitation to play with the squad but ultimately relented. He only scored four goals on the campaign but was instrumental in the 4-1 win over Italy in the final scoring the opening goal and assisting on two others.
He ended his career scoring over 1,000 goals in all competitions.
Since retiring, Pele has become a worldwide ambassador for the sport.
Pele was born Edison Arantes do Nascimento and named after American inventor Thomas Edison but his parents idea was to drop the ‘I’ from the name and call him Edson but a mistake on his birth certificate has his name officially listed as Edison.
He picked up the nickname Pele as a school boy. As he played he would call out and mis-pronounce the name of his favorite player, Vasco da Gama’s goalkeeper Bile, and the name in its mis-pronounced form stuck.
Former Brazilian international Waldemar de Brito discovered the player and helped him join the Santos Football Club’s youth team as a 15 year old. After one season, Pele was playing with the senior side.
1940 – Pelé, Brazilian footballer
1961 – Andoni Zubizarreta, Spanish footballer
1973 – Christian Dailly, Scottish footballer
1974 – Sander Westerveld, Dutch footballer
1978 – Jimmy Bullard, English footballer
1978 – Archie Thompson, Australian footballer
1979 – Simon Davies, Welsh footballer
1982 – Valentin Badea, Romanian footballer
1983 – Filipos Darlas, Greek footballer
1986 – Jake Robinson, English footballer
2004 – Bill Nicholson, English Footballer (b.1919)