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Why Pele Is Still The Greatest

With World Cup 2014 starting in Brazil next week, it is almost a guarantee that we will be exposed throughout the tournament to heaps of highlights, stories, and images of the greatest soccer player ever to live. Before you hear the references, before you see the glory, we here at The18 thought it was only fit we take a moment to revel in the greatness that was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pelé. 

Considered the best soccer player to ever live, Pelé was ranked earlier this year by Forbes as one of the world’s top 10 highest-paid retired athletes, and was also named the most influential celebrity in Brazil. His name and brand is worth millions by simply representing superiority. Don’t forget his hard-to-miss smile and charismatic personality. It’s something that companies have been fighting for with the World Cup and Olympics taking place in Brazil over the next two years. Coke, Volkswagen, Procter & Gamble, Subway, Hublot, Golazo and Emirates all have deals with the “The King.” Just check out his awesome commercial with Cristiano Ronaldo which will surely be played throughout the World Cup.                        

 Ronaldo versus Pelé? Not even close. 

Pelé turned pro at 15 and led Brazil's first division in goal scoring with 36 goals in 29 games. His numbers never got worse. Over his 18 year pro career he scored 1,220 goals in all competitions (including friendlies) which doesn’t include his 3 seasons with the NASL New York Cosmos where he scored another 37. In his first 350 professional games, Pelé scored an insane 448 goals. Ronaldo has 424 in his 600+ game career. Hold tight, there is more.

Pelé scored five goals in a game six times, scored four goals in a game 30 times, and had a hat-trick 90 times! His team Santos toured internationally to take advantage of his global popularity and in 1967, during the Nigerian Civil War, the country’s two factions agreed on a 48-hour ceasefire in order to watch Pelé plan an exhibition game in Lagos. You really can’t make this stuff up. Take a look at the brilliance of Pelé.

 This year’s World Cup is a big opportunity for Brazil, and Pelé knows it. He knows that he will be a huge figure for the country and the national team throughout the tournament. As protests and violence have grown, Pelé says he understands what the people are angry about and he blames “the evil people who have stolen all the money” for the delays and preparation issues. But the Brazilian great also said he was disgraced by the country’s attempt to put on the World Cup. Saying that the demonstrations should have started back in 2007, when the country won the rights for the World Cup, instead of right before the start of tournament. He has preached against violent protests and has continued to inspire people, despite the circumstances, to stand by the Brazilian national team. “Our national team has nothing to do with the existing corruption that has delayed the construction of the stadiums,” the three-time World Cup champ said. “I hope that Brazil will win the World Cup.”

Unfortunately, a little more than a week before Pelé introduces the world to his country, he will have to deal with the news about his son Edinho receiving a 33-year jail sentence after being found guilty of laundering money raised from drug trafficking. Pelé is currently in China promoting his book “Why Soccer Matters” and has yet to comment on his son’s case. Pelé has said previously that there is not “a shred of evidence” against his son. His son is currently an assistant coach for Santos. 

You’ll see the commercials and you’ll hear about his greatness. But that greatness hasn’t subsided. He is still a national hero, and has urged his country to rally around the National team despite the demonstrations because he knows what effect football can have on the country. A Brazilian victory would be the country's sixth championship, and we can only speculate what the environment would be like outside the Maracana should Neymar and the rest of the squad hoist the World Cup trophy on July 13th, but Pelé has a hunch it will happen, and he knows it will be glorious. 

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