Edison "Edson" Arantes do Nascimento, nicknamed Pele, is regarded, alongside Diego Maradona, as one of the two greatest players of all time, although there are many who believe Pele was the finest of them all.
In his career he scored an astonishing 1281 goals in 1363 games, earning him the nickname the King Of Football. He represented Santos in Brazil for nearly two decades, where he won 10 Campeonato Paulistas and two Copa Libertadores. In 1962, Pele, wearing his iconic number 10 shirt, led them to the 1962 Intercontinental Cup against Benfica.
Such was the appeal of the Santos side, which also included Carlos Alberto, they travelled the world playing exhibition matches. The most famous of these was in 1967, when the two factions involved in the Nigerian Civil War agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire so they could watch Pele play an exhibition game in Lagos. The club went on to become a symbol of Joga Bonito (The Beautiful Game) in football culture.
In 1974 Pele moved to the US to play for the legendary New York Cosmos alongside Giorgio Chinaglia and Franz Beckenbauer. Although past his prime, he still led them to the 1977 NASL championship, in his third and final season with the club.
At international level, Pele was just as successful. Indeed he is the only player ever to have won three World Cup winners medals; in 1958, 1962 and 1970. The 1970 Brazil side is widely regarded as the greatest team of all time and it was Pele who made them tick. His duel with England's Bobby Moore at the 1970 Mexico World Cup has gone down in folklore, and he was the architect of the team that destroyed Italy in the final.
Pele scored the opener, with a header over Italian defender Tarcisio Burgnich. He then made assists on Jairzinho's and Carlos Alberto's goals. Brazil won the match 4-1, keeping the Jules Rimet Trophy indefinitely, and Pele was named player of the tournament. Burgnich, who marked Pele during the final, later said: "I told myself before the game, he's made of skin and bones just like everyone else – but I was wrong."
Pele died on December 29, 2022 aged 82.