After joining Santos, Pele’s fortune changed. By the time he retired in 1977, he had scored 1281 goals in 1363 games for club and country, making him the best footballer the world has ever seen. He also became the best-paid athlete in the world, winning the World Player of the Century. Apart from the cache of personal, club and European trophies and prizes which he has garnered over time, he remains the only player ever to win three World Cups till date.
Pele’s legendary skill is not to be underestimated. He was known all over the world for spectacular dribbling skills, pace, vision, flick-ons, wizardry, precise passing and ball juggling artistry. Johan Cruyff, the renowned Dutch Star once referred to him as “the only footballer who surpassed the boundaries of logic.”
But the most emotional description of him came from his Brazilian teammate, Clodoaldo who said “In some countries, they wanted to touch him; in some, they wanted to kiss him. In others, they even kiss the ground he walked on….”
Such were the comments about a man that the world is yet to demystify.
A lot of modern day football stars – Messi, Ronaldo, etc. – have been compared to him. Yet, the world acknowledges that no one has been able to replicate Pele’s success. Messi is no doubt among the best of the best in the past years, winning over 30 trophies and becoming the best player in the world five times – a feat any player would find difficult to achieve in many years. However, because Pele won the World Cup three times, and Messi has yet to win one, holding only the 2008 Olympics gold medal in Beijing, there is a general consensus that on one will ever be like Pele.