“I think Pele was better than all of them. For me, there’s no comparison. Pele was far more complete. He had every quality that a forward could have. He didn’t have one defect. Maradona was spectacular, but he wasn’t on Pele’s level physically, he didn’t score the numbers of goals Pele did. Messi’s spectacular, but he doesn’t head the ball like Pele did, he doesn’t shoot as well with both feet, he doesn’t pull off the moves that Pele did. Cristiano Ronaldo is an exceptional player, but he doesn’t have the ability that Pele had and he doesn’t pull off the incredible passes that Pele did. If you take the qualities of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, put them together, then you’d have a player to compare to Pele!”

Former Brazil legend Tostao

Arguments about whether Pele was the greatest of all-time will continue to rage on as long the game of football is played but there is no doubt that Pele was a very, very special player. His immense technical ability, his eye for goal and his long, successful career helped him showcase his skills to the world at large.

Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas was once asked about where he would rank Pele in his list of greatest players. And his answer revealed just highly the Brazilian was thought of by his contemporaries.

“The greatest player in history was Di Stefano,” Puskas had said. “I refuse to classify Pele as a player. He was above that.”

As Pele celebrates his 80th birthday, confined to his home in Brazil because of Covid-19, the world still can’t help by fondly remember his brilliance.

Born October 23, 1940, in the city of Tres Coracoes in southeastern Brazil, Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Pele’s real name – has grown increasingly frail with age.

“The King” has suffered from a series of health problems in recent years, but has not lost his charisma or sense of humor.

“The only player who surpassed the boundaries of logic.”

— Dutch legend Johan Cruyff on Pele

“I’m fine, it’s just I won’t be able to play” on his birthday, he joked this week in a video conversation with the head of the Brazilian Football Confederation.

The only player in history to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), Pele plans to celebrate his birthday quietly – as he does almost every year, he says, coronavirus pandemic or not.

“Thank you to Brazil and all Brazilians. I was always very happy wearing this jersey. Thank you for all your warm wishes for my birthday,” he wrote Wednesday on Instagram, posted with a photo of himself celebrating one of his 1,281 goals.

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Eu era apenas um garoto. Um garoto com um sonho. Quando vi meu pai chorar, pela derrota do Brasil na Copa do Mundo de 1950, eu prometi para o seu Dondinho que iria levar esse troféu para casa. Cheguei na Seleção com 16 anos, e com essa ideia fixa na cabeça. Representar o Brasil sempre foi minha obsessão. Em 1958, sofri uma lesão no joelho, mas mesmo assim, a possibilidade de não realizar o meu sonho doeria muito mais que este pequeno problema. Conseguimos, juntos, conquistar essa vitória inédita para o país. Eu tinha apenas 17 anos e 249 dias, quando pude ajudar com dois gols, na vitória por 5 a 2 contra a Suécia, em Estocolmo. Fui o jogador mais jovem a disputar uma final de Copa do Mundo. E foi nessa Copa do Mundo que a tal "camisa 10" mudou minha vida. Depois de 1958, ainda fui abençoado com mais três Copas do Mundo, e pude levantar o troféu mais duas vezes. A Seleção Brasileira me ensinou que sonhos nunca morrem e que perseverar é o segredo para se manter no topo. Obrigado, Brasil. Foi um prazer vestir essa camisa por tanto tempo. Deus foi bom para mim. // 

I was just a boy. A boy with a dream. When I saw my father cry, for the defeat of Brazil in the 1950 World Cup, I promised to Dondinho that I would take this trophy home. I joined the national team when I was 16, and with that idea fixed in my head. Representing Brazil has always been my obsession. In 1958, I suffered a knee injury, but even so, the possibility of not making my dream come true would hurt much more than this little problem. Together, we managed to achieve this unprecedented victory for Brazil. I was only 17 years old and 249 days old, when I was able to help with two goals, in the 5-2 victory against Sweden in Stockholm. I was the youngest player to play in a World Cup final. In fact, it was at this World Cup that the "shirt 10" changed my life. After 1958, I was still blessed with three more World Cups, and I was able to lift the trophy two more times. The Brazilian team taught me that dreams never die and that persevering is the secret to staying on top. Thanks Brazil. It was a pleasure to wear this shirt for so long. God was good to me. #Pele10x8

A post shared by Pelé (@pele) on

“I told myself before the game, he’s made of skin and bones just like everyone else — but I was wrong.”

— Tarcisio Burgnich, who marked Pele in the 1970 World Cup final

Whether captured in grainy black and white early in his career, or with his yellow and green number 10 Brazil jersey flitting across the screen in the era of color TV, many of those goals were spectacular displays of athletic prowess, setting the standard for the “jogo bonito,” or “beautiful game,” that would come to define Brazilian football.

“There’s Pele the man, and then Pele the player. And to play like Pele is to play like God.”

— France legend Michel Platini

In the course of his long and unique career, he scored more than 1,200 goals, a record likely to stand for all time, and which includes more than 1,000 goals for Santos, Pele’s club from 1956 to 1974. He also added 72 goals in 92 appearances for A Seleção.

His legacy looms so large that Fifa named him the greatest footballer of the 20th century in 2000, alongside Argentina’s Diego Maradona – who celebrates his 60th birthday on October 30.

Here’s a look at his amazing skills:


Pele’s special goals:


Here’s a wonderful documentary on the Brazilian legend: