On October 1, 1977 Soccer legend Pele officially retires playing his final game in an exhibition between New York and Santos at the Giant Stadium in New Jersey, competing for both sides, and retiring with a total of 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.
Born Pelé was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on October 23, 1940 in Três Corações, Brazil. Named after Thomas Edison and nicknamed "Dico," Pelé moved with his family to the city of Bauru as a young boy. While there his family allow the budding phenom to leave home and try out for the Santos professional soccer club when he was 15.
After an ultra successful try out, Pelé signed with Santos and immediately started practicing with the team's regulars. He scored the first professional goal of his career before he turned 16, led the league in goals in his first full season and was recruited to play for the Brazilian national team.
The world was officially introduced to Pelé in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. Displaying remarkable speed, athleticism and field vision, the 17-year-old erupted to score three goals in a 5-2 semifinal win over France, then netted two more goals in the finals, a 5-2 win over the host country. Pelé immediately became a superstar with his superb performance in the 1958 World Cup.
Pele played professionally in Brazil for two decades, winning three World Cups along the way, before joining the New York Cosmos late in his career. Named FIFA co-Player of the Century in 1999, he is a global ambassador for soccer and other humanitarian causes. In fact, in the late 1960s, the two factions in the Nigerian Civil War reportedly agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire so they could watch Pelé play in an exhibition game in Lagos.
The young superstar received hefty offers to play for European clubs, and Brazilian President Jânio Quadros eventually had Pelé declared a national treasure, making it legally difficult for him to play in another country. Regardless, Santos club ownership ensured its star attraction was well paid by scheduling lucrative exhibition matches with teams around the world.