The only player in the history of football to have won three World Cups and Brazil’s joint all-time top scorer, Pelé, has sadly passed away due to multiple organ failure caused by colon cancer. O Rei (The King) was 82 years old when he died peacefully at the Albert Einstein Hospital just three days before the New Year of 2023, and was accompanied by his many family members. His funeral was a grandiose one, as a public display is being hosted, where countless of fans visited and paid their last respects to the legend who popularised o jogo bonito (The Beautiful Game). His body is set to be buried at Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica today.
The passing of the great Pelé is truly a huge blow to the football world, but we all are glad that he came to the world and made us smile with his football skills and generous personality. Let us take a look at how the then 17-year-old him burst onto the scene in the 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden.
Youngest to Score in a World Cup Match and the Final
O Rei came into Sweden with a knee injury, but was awarded the no. 10 jersey due to FIFA’s shirt number allocation for the player from Três Corações, Minas Gerais. Several records were broken by the then 17-year-old forward, but he was only given the chance to play until the final match of the group stage, and he delivered an assist to Vavá’s second goal of the match against the Soviet Union.
The knockout round was where Pelé put on a scoring spree, with his first coming against Wales in the quarterfinal, making him the youngest player to score in a World Cup match at 17 years and 239 days old. Against France in the following round, the Brazilian striker scored a second-half hat-trick inside 23 minutes to send Brazil to its second ever World Cup final. The finale was filled with hostility since the host nation Sweden was through to it, but Brazil once again scored five in a knockout match to beat the latter 5-2, in which Pelé contributed a brace, allowing him to be the youngest footballer to play and score in a World Cup final at 17 years and 249 days.
Silver Ball and Young Player Award in the Bag
With six goals in four matches for the Seleção, Pelé trailed only the 13-goal Just Fontaine in terms of scoring, and his exceptional performance that led Brazil to its very first World Cup made him the first winner of the Young Player award, in addition to the Silver Ball honour that he has collected. O Rei went on to win another two World Cups for the Seleção, defending the 1958 crown four years later in Chile as well as coming back from the 1966 disappointment to win at Mexico in 1970. These triumphs made him the only person on Earth to have won three world titles and helped the Seleção to be only the second country to date to be able to defend its title more than six decades ago. Besides, the old regulations of FIFA allowed Brazil to take home the official Jules Rimet Trophy in 1970 after a hat-trick of wins in the World Cup and a new trophy was introduced in the following edition, but no countries were allowed to bring home the original trophy due to changes of the FIFA rules. Pelé will certainly go down as one of the true greats of the football game.
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