Footballing maestro Pele was laid to rest at Vila Belmiro, the home ground of Santos FC where he spent the majority of his club career, from 1956 to 1974.
According to Goal.com, a public ceremony took place from January 2, Monday, through to the morning of January 3. His public funeral started at Santos’ home stadium on Monday. His coffin was placed on the pitch and fans were allowed to pay their tributes to one of the greatest to play the sport for 24 hours. “As he always wanted, our eternal King Pele says goodbye in Vila Belmiro, his home, with his people,” tweeted the official handle of the club.
A procession through the streets of Santos will take place on Tuesday and the parade will pass through Canal 6, an area of his mother’s residence. After this, the procession will continue to a private burial at the Memorial Necropole Ecumenica, which will be attended by his family and friends.
Brazil’s three-time World-cup winning football legend, Pele passed away at the age of 82 following a cancer battle, Al Jazeera reported on Friday citing his agent Joe Fraga who confirmed the news of his demise.
Considered by many to be the greatest footballer of all time, Pele had been in poor health in recent months and had quite a few stints in the hospital.
The three-time World Cup champion, whose actual name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was reportedly dealing with kidney and heart issues and was hospitalised since November with multiple ailments.
In September 2021, Pele had a colon tumour removed. However, on November 29, he checked into the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo, according to Al Jazeera.
Pele, widely regarded as the game’s most gifted player, guided Brazil to three World Cup victories in 1958, 1962, and 1970. With 77 goals in 92 games, he continues to be the top goal scorer for Brazil.
The footballer boasted of numerous trophies at the club and country level.
Pele won many individual accolades as well. He won the ‘Best Young Player’ award in FIFA World Cup 1958. He has also won the prestigious Ballon d’Or award a massive seven times. His astonishing goal-scoring record made him the rightful ‘Greatest of All-Time’.
The striker dominated the sport from the 1950s to 1970s an era marked by unstructured and decentralised record-keeping in the sport. This deprived the fans of knowing the exact measure of the footballer’s greatness. His goal-scoring record is an issue hotly debated among fans and statisticians alike.
At the international level, Pele remains his country’s all-time top-scorer. With 77 goals in 92 international appearances, this football legend’s feet and the nets could not be separated. He announced himself with a thunderous performance in the 1958 World Cup, in which he scored six goals throughout the tournament. He emerged as the second-highest goal-scorer in the tournament.
This goal tally also makes Pele the 11th-highest run scorer among international footballers.
At the FIFA World Cup, Pele scored 12 goals in 14 matches across four editions, which is the second most by any Brazilian after Ronaldo. This three-time world champion is also the joint-sixth in the list of highest scorers at the marquee football event.
At 17 years and 239 days of age, he was also the youngest footballer to have ever found the nets in the men’s FIFA World Cup, accomplishing this feat during the quarterfinals of the 1958 edition of the tournament against Wales.
Pele became a youngest hat-trick scorer in World Cup history, against France in the semis and was also the youngest to score a goal in a World Cup final. Host Sweden was at the receiving end of Pele’s brilliance in the summit clash.
At the club level, in official matches, Pele scored 680 goals. The majority of them, 643 goals to be precise, were scored for Santos in domestic level tournaments (at national and state levels), the Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup (the precursor to the FIFA Club World Cup.
The prodigious talent made his debut for the Sao Paulo club at the age of 15 and stayed loyal to the club for the majority of his career — from 1956 to 1974. However, there are varying claims on the number of matches he played for Santos. Some put it at 659 while some others claim that Pele featured in 665 matches for Santos.
Pele scored all his remaining 37 goals for US club New York Cosmos, where he spent three years. He joined the club at age of 35 in 1975, playing 64 official matches for them before hanging up his boots in 1977.
Pele’s 643 goals for Santos was a record for the most number of goals scored by a player for club till Lionel Messi broke it. He scored 672 goals in 778 matches for FC Barcelona, before he departed from the Spanish club in 2021. It took years for Messi and the footballing world to surpass Pele’s records.
First-class football is all about matches played at the senior level. In the modern context, Pele should be having a total of 757 goals, which includes 680 at club level and 77 for Brazil. But Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF) gives Pele a total of 778 goals in 846 official matches as they take into account the times he found the nets for his military team and at national selection trials.
Various numbers have been seen, when it comes to his goal-scoring tally as his youth-level football, friendlies, exhibition matches etc are also taken into consideration by different parties.
Nonetheless, his goal tally is enough to put him in the record books as he is in the Guinness Book of World Records for scoring the most number of goals in the sport.
“The most goals scored in a specified period is 1,279 by Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Brazil), known as Pele, from 7 September 1956 to 1 October 1977 in 1,363 games. His best year was 1959 with 126, and the Milesimo (1000th goal) came from a penalty for his club Santos at the Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, on 19 November 1969 when playing his 909th first-class match. He later added two more goals in special appearances,” the Guinness World Record site notes.
FIFA, football’s world governing body, and CONMEBOL, the South American football federation, has put his tally at 1,281, including two goals for Santos in ‘special appearances’ made after retirement that Guinness does not count.
FIFA has been using the phrase ‘more than 1,200’ to describe his goal tally in recent years.
Pele himself put his career goal tally at 1,283. However, the RSSF put it at 1,303 goals in 1,392 matches.
Regardless of what his actual goal statistics are, Pele remains the Pole star of the beautiful game. (ANI)