Pelé was born as Edsson Arantes do Nascimiento. He is the son of a footballer father, Dondinho, who will pass through the Atlético Mineiro and the Fulminense. It was at the age of 14 that Pelé left to join Santos to start his immense career. A few years earlier, Brazil lost the World Cup 1950 at home, a national tragedy for the whole country. A defeat that melts Pelé’s father into tears. Profoundly marked the young player of Santos will lead himself to win a World Cup with the Seleção, a dream that becomes reality in 1958. But the King’s adventure might never have happened because of medical choices and injury before the start of the competition.
A very active child, his mother sometimes lets him accompany his father during his football training. It would be during one of these training that he would have acquired the nickname of Pelé. Little Edison, who was only three years old, had fun with the goalkeeper of Vasco da Gama FC, his father’s club. It was then that his father noticed that he shouted “Pilé” while trying to pronounce the name of the guard, a certain Bilé. “Pilé” will become “Pelé” and the child’s nickname (although his family and loved ones will continue to call him Edson.
Spotted by Waldemar de Brito (coach of the Bauru Athletic Club youth team) during a selection, his talent for the round ball led him to attend only the stadiums. At the age of thirteen, he joined the Bauru AC team where he remained until 1956. Two years later, Waldemar de Brito leaves his coaching post but offers Pelé’s parents to join the Santos FC, which they accept.
The 1958 World Cup saw the birth of Pelé, who dazzled the world with his above-average technique and sense of purpose. At only 17 years old, suffice to say that precocity will not be a concern for the young prodigy of the Santos FC. As part of a dream team, Pelé will write his name in gold letters in the history of the World Cup.
An injury that could have changed everything
He obtained his first cape on July 7, 1957, eleven months before the World Cup 1958. Pelé’s grand baptism took place against Argentina as part of the Super Classico of the Americas – also known as Coppa Roca – the competition between the two selections between 1914 and 1976. Replacing at kick-off, Pelé returned after the break and scored his first goal. In the following match, he started the match, and again against the celestial Albi, he scored another goal. The Pelé effect was immediate in a selection that returned to success after its failure at the 1950 World Cup.
Back with his club, he competed with her in Santos to finish top scorer of the Sao Paulo State Championship with 17 goals. Pelé will be selected by Vicente Feola to take part in the adventure in Sweden, but the preparation will not go as planned.
The young talent almost never competed in the 1958 World Cup. After a start of preparation, it will take time to convince his selector to put him in the starting eleven, because of the questions that remain on his young age and his physical and mental abilities, questioned by the selection psychologist, Dr João Carvalhaes. In a sixth match against the Corinthians, Pelé will be lined up in the eleven. Starting the previous match against Bulgaria, he had crashed a double, but this match against the Corinthians will be a whole different game. Against a very physical team, Pelé will take blows, and after a violent charge of Ari Clemente, the teenager will hurt his knee. But despite the questions, Feola will not be able to do without the talent of the young boy and will decide to take Pelé to Sweden, with the success we know.
A smashing World Cup
Replacing for the first two games, Pelé will make his World Cup debut against the Soviet Union in the final pool match. The coach will make three changes in preparation for this decisive match for first place in the Group. The young nugget of Santos will make a full match in attack, he will deliver a decisive pass to Vava on the second goal of the Seleção. Pelé was unknown to European spectators, but the game against Wales in quarters will change the game. In a match controlled by Brazil, Pelé will be the hero. Only 17 years old, he will score the only goal of the match, mystifying the Welsh defense. And he did it again in the semi-final against France, and in what way! Opposed to the big surprise of this tournament, Brazil de Pelé will play a final before the time against the best attack of the competition. The Brazilian superiority and the bad luck on the French side will allow Brazil to qualify without incident in the final with a 5-2 victory. In the second half, Pelé will achieve one of his best performances under the Auriverde jersey. Number 10 will score three times to end the Habs hopes. At the same time, he became the youngest player in the history of the World Cup, at the age of 17years old.
“[Against the Soviet Union] I had missed two goals that I would surely have scored if I had been more relaxed … After our party dinner, I went back to my room and I replayed in my head every move, every kick. I wasn’t too happy with my performance – I could have played better. I had tried to lobe Yashin at one point and I realized that it was pure nerve on my part. This is something I should be working on.”
PELÉ ON HIS FIRST MATCH AGAINST THE USSR
The story is too good to stop there and Pelé will deliver an exceptional performance in the final. A master class of Pelé and his teammates to defeat Sweden, 5-2 as against France. Young Pelé became King on the afternoon of 29 June 1958. As in the previous lap, he scored in the second half, first at the reception of a cross of Nilton Santos, he perfectly controlled the ball from the chest, made a sombrero shot at Bengt Gustav sound, and took back the volley. The stadium is conquered, Pelé has just realized on this goal an incredible sequence, but the show Pelé is not finished. The apotheosis of his masterpiece occurs at the very end of the match, when he takes back from the head a center signed Mario Zagallo, the relaxation is dizzying and Pelé offers himself the double. The emotion is too strong for the kid who collapses on the lawn as soon as the match is over. Pelé and la Seleção won the first title in the history of Brazil, the first in a long series for the legend of the round ball.
Author of an incredible World Cup, he was named best young rider in 1958. The rest of his career will be just as magical. He will enter the legend thanks to his many records. On the international scene, he won two more World Cups, one on one leg in 1962 after an injury in the first game, and the other in 1970 with a dream team around him. A record and performance that makes King Pele one of the best players in history, and perhaps the best player in the history of the World Cup. It goes without saying that on the occasion of the 1958 World Cup, Pelé, who was then only a young prince in Santos, became a King in the eyes of the whole world.