Sporting Legends of the 20th Century: Pelé.

Essay by niilanteyHigh School, 11th gradeA, June 2003

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The story of Pelé is rather interesting. A rags-to-riches story, so to say. Brought up from humble beginnings in the tiny Brazilian town of Tres Coracoes, life was tough from the word go. From an early age he learnt to defend and take care of himself, shining shoes on the roadside to help support his impoverished family. Even through the toughest of times, he showed a persistence and determination far beyond his years.

It is this persistence and determination that helped mould what would become one of the greatest soccer players of all time - the man who set the game of soccer alight and helped elevate the sport to the massive event it is today.

Born on the 23rd of October 1940 an only child, Pelé found solace playing 'futbol' on street corners and in alleyways, barefoot and with a bundle of rags as a ball. He soon began playing for the local junior team, where he stood out with his skills and determination.

In the words of Waldemar de Brito, a former Brazilian international who began training Pelé at an early age: "he was blessed with speed, poise, great balance, vision, the uncanny ability to control the ball superbly, and to sharp shoot powerfully with either foot and with his head".

Much of Pelé's professional career was spent with Brazilian club Santos, for which h made his debut at the tender age of 15. He would remain with them for eighteen years, in that time leading them to 11 state championships, 6 Brazilian Cups and 2 World Club Championships. It was not long before he was called up to play for Brazil, at only seventeen. That memorable first game was a match that both shocked and amazed the soccer world, announcing the arrival of a prodigy, and...