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The Greatest Football Player

THE OLD SACHEM Bill Stewart-2
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  This column was originally printed years ago. The last paragraph was added this week.

  By the title, you probably thought I would write about Tom Brady or some other NFL player. But no, I am writing about what the world calls football and we in the USA call soccer. The greatest player over time would be Pelé.

  He was born as Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil, on October 23, 1940. He started his career as a youth with Bauru from 1953 to 1956.

  In his professional career he played for Santos in the Brazil Professional League from 1956 to 1974, with 638 appearances – scoring 619 goals. He finished his professional career with the New York Cosmos in Major League Soccer of the USA, with 56 appearances and 31 goals, from 1975 to 1977.

  He played for the Brazilian National team from 1957 to 1971 with 91 appearances and 77 goals in international competition. He was a member of the team winning the FIFA World Cup in Sweden in 1958, in Chile in 1962 and in Mexico in 1979. He played for Brazil in the Copa America competition in Argentina in 1959.

  In 1999 he was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS). He was selected as the Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee, also in 1999. That same year Time magazine named him among the 100 most influential people of the 20th Century. The IFFHS and Guinness World Records list him as the top goal scorer in the world counting not only his professional games but also unofficial friendlies and tour games. His listed total is 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.

  Pelé died last Thursday at the age of 82. Tributes have poured in from around the world for this greatest of all time football player.

(Editor’s Note: Bill Stewart, better known to Saugus Advocate readers as “The Old Sachem,” writes a weekly column about sports – and sometimes he opines on current events.)

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