Pele (Sports Heroes & Legends)
Born into poverty in, Brazil, Pel fell in love with soccer at a young age. By the time he was just fifteen, Pel had joined a professional team. This was the beginning of a long career. Pel became an international celebrity whose name was synonymous with soccer. His fame allowed him to raise awareness of his beloved game around the world.
could play. The doctor wouldn’t allow it. “It might cripple you for life,” he told Pelé. “I am not willing to risk that.” The other players tried to cheer up Pelé. They told him not to worry. But how could he not? He loved playing soccer more than anything. And because of his injury, all he could do was lie around. On June 6, 1962, Brazil beat Spain 2–1. Pelé watched the game on television. He was glad the team won. Amarildo, his replacement, was the star of the game, scoring both goals for
so Pelé and his teammates would have to outscore Portugal by several goals to win the group. 55 In the days before the game, Pelé’s worry grew. He felt Brazil’s team leaders were cracking under the pressure. Nobody knew who would be starting and who would be on the bench. Finally, Pelé learned he would start. He wasn’t completely healthy, but it was now or never. Sadly, Pelé wasn’t the only Brazilian who was hurting. Several other players were injured. One was Gilmar, the team’s goalkeeper.
the World Cup. He felt that he had something to prove and that Brazil’s team leaders had learned their lesson from the 1966 disaster. They were determined not to make the same mistakes. “There was more understanding of the challenge ahead,” Pelé believed. Mexico was to host the 1970 World Cup. Pelé looked forward to playing there because the fans always treated him with respect. In fact, when Santos played Guadalajara, almost the whole city took the day off. The posters on every street corner
kept fighting. Pelé nearly tied the game, but the Uruguay goalkeeper made a fantastic save. Later, Pelé had the ball in the penalty box. Before he could shoot, he was knocked over. The Uruguayan defender also stepped on Pelé’s ankle. Pelé looked up at the referee. Surely that was a penalty! But the ref did nothing. Frustrated, Pelé got up and kept playing. Later in the match, Pelé was dribbling up the field when he saw the same Uruguayan player who’d knocked him down. The defender was coming in
off the plane. People were everywhere, shouting his name. “I began to feel the excitement building up in me as I hadn’t felt it before,” he said. “This was my home.” As he rode through town, he thought about the tough times of his childhood. Of shining shoes, playing in the streets, and stealing peanuts. It seemed like yesterday. And yet it also seemed so long ago. Then Pelé looked up and saw a banner. The words made him more proud than he’d ever felt. “Welcome, Pelé,” it read. “Son of Bauru,