Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pelé, a name he had acquired at the age of nine. Many a great footballer had a particularly formidable arrow in his quiver; Pelé, however, seemed to be without a weakness: he was exceptionally fast and agile, his superb sense of balance created an impression of grace no matter what position his body adopted; he had a powerful shot and a heading ability that was stunning, no opponent was safe from being out jumped, outrun, out dribbled, or being “nutmegged” (slipping a ball between a rival player’s legs and running round his back to collect it). Most important of all was his sense of anticipation, the ability to be in exactly the right position at exactly the right time, a footballing brain par excellence. His accomplishments on the field of football provide the measurement that must be used should anyone claim to be the greatest. Born on 23 October 1940 in Tres Corações, Minas Gerais State in the east of Brazil. Perhaps the high altitude helped Pelé become such an accomplished athlete with superb stamina. The son of a professional footballer, Pelé was discovered by the Brazilian international Valdemar de Brito, who had featured for Brazil in the 1934 World Cup. Pelé played professional football for the Brazilian club side Santos for most of his career, retiring in 1974. He briefly returned to professional football, played for the New York Cosmos, finally retiring on 1 October 1977. Pelé was to play for Brazil in the 1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970 World Cups. At club level Santos won the Sao Paolo State League eight times in eleven years. A special act of the Brazilian Congress forbade Pelé’s transfer abroad, a boon for Santos, and a shame for European fans who were thus largely restricted to watching Pelé play in internationals for his country. That is to say, watching in the flesh, for the age of television had arrived and this World Cup was filmed.

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.