Pele was so powerful and admired by many people in his heydays that he was able to achieve what political leaders and the international community couldn’t – stop a devastating civil war in Nigeria on his own.
The Biafran War ended in 1970 after the Nigerians captured the entire territory but in 1969, the Brazilian soccer star was able to influence the two factions in the war to agree on a 48-hour ceasefire so that two games could be played peacefully. Such was the magic of Pele.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento (his real name) on this day in 1940 in the city of Tres Coracoes in southeastern Brazil, Pele became a household name, playing for a Brazilian club called Santos and then the Brazil national team. Widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, Pele is the only player in history to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970).
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In 2000, FIFA named him the greatest footballer of the 20th century alongside Diego Maradona of Argentina.
Despite suffering health problems in recent years, Pele’s all smiles as he celebrates his 80th birthday today. Here are seven of his greatest quotes:
Football is the only sport where you put people together, it doesn’t matter if you are rich, or poor, or black, or white. It is one nation. This is the beauty of football.
Success isn’t determined by how many times you win, but by how you play the week after you lose.
A lot of people, when a guy scores a lot of goals, think, ‘He’s a great player’, because a goal is very important, but a great player is a player who can do everything on the field. He can do assists, encourage his colleagues, give them confidence to go forward. It is someone who, when a team does not do well, becomes one of the leaders.
Wherever you go, there are three icons that everyone knows: Jesus Christ, Pele and Coca-Cola.
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.
I was born to play football, just like Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint.
For 20 years they have asked me the same question, who is the greatest? Pele or Maradona? I replay that all you have to do is look at the facts – how many goals did he score with his right foot or with his head?