For much of the world, the endearment with “the beautiful game” began with a man known as Pele (born Edson Arantes do Nascimento).
The soccer icon is regarded as the sport’s first superstar, with a career that began in the late 1950s. Pele is still widely regarded as soccer’s best player, more than four decades after his playing days ended.
He’s frequently included in conversations and lists as one of the 20th century’s greatest athletes. So beloved in his native land, Pele is often referred to is “O Rei,” or “the king”.
Pele won three World Cup championships in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He was 17 when he scored a “hat trick,” three goals, in a 1958 World Cup match, the youngest person to achieve such a feat.
In 1967, there was a 48-hour cease-fire in Nigeria’s civil war to watch Pele play at Lagos City Stadium. There was no violence in the stadium, no arrests, only football fans that had been brought together by a shared passion.
Football has the power to establish friendships, enable one to build confidence, and contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
It also has the power to persuade warriors to lay down their weapons and unite alongside perceived foes in honor of an athletic artist who reminds us that beauty endures even in the face of adversity.