Pelé’s 1000th goal and the story behind it

Before experts and fans alike debated whether Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo was the best player to kick a ball, the man who went by the name Pele was often considered the best. Often ranked as one of the most important players in soccer history, if not the most important, along with his Argentinian counterpart Diego Maradona, Pele’s exploits for Brazil will no doubt be reassessed when his home country tries to win the 2022 edition of the World Cup in Qatar. On November 19, 1969, the legend scored a decisive goal that helped define his career.

Pelé, who played for Santos and the New York Cosmos during his illustrious days as a professional, scored his 1,000th goal on November 19, 1969 at the magnificent Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which hosted the final of the World Cup in 2014.

His goal came for his beloved Santos in a match against local club Vasco de Gama, whose fans gave Pelé a standing ovation after the goal, with 80,000 rival fans joining in celebrating a heroic legend.

Pelé was already a national hero, winning two World Cups for Brazil in 1958 and 1962, and less than a year later he would win the title again, with a team often considered the greatest of all time.

The star was only 29 years old when he scored. His overall tally is often questioned, but by the end of his career, Pele is reported to have scored 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, including friendlies, which is a Guinness World Record.

However, when it comes to official matches, Pelé ranks third on the all-time goalscoring list, with 767 goals in 831 games. Here, he trails overall leader Czech striker Josef Bican, who has scored 805 goals in 530 games, and compatriot and fellow World Cup winner Romario, who finished his career with 772 goals in 994 games.

Pelé’s nickname came during his childhood, although in his native Portuguese it has no real meaning. As a teenager, he honed his skills with Bauru, a minor league club in Sao Paulo state, before moving to Santos in 1956.

Two years later, he would be in the World Cup line-up, leading the line as a 17-year-old and scoring twice in a scintillating final as Brazil beat Sweden for the world crown.

After their third win in 1970, Brazil was given permission to keep the Jules Rimet Trophy as a sign of their dominance of world soccer at the time.

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“I have never found and will never find a difference between Pelé’s pass to Carlos Alberto in the 1970 World Cup final and the poetry of the young Rimbaud. There is in each of these human manifestations an expression of beauty that touches us and gives us a feeling of eternity”.

Former Italian defender Giacinto Facchetti recalled his meeting with Pelé: “We went up together to head a ball. I was taller, I had better momentum. When I came back down, I looked up in amazement.

“Pele was still there, in the air, heading that ball. It was like he could stay suspended for as long as he wanted.”

Meanwhile, Just Fontaine, often hailed as France’s best striker, and who was the top scorer at the 1958 World Cup, simply said: “When I saw Pele play, I felt like I should hang up my boots.”

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