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Pelé: A World Cup legend


Pelé: A World Cup legend

Messi, Maradona, Ronaldo, Pelé? The debate over the world’s greatest soccer player will go on, but Pelé is king in the World Cup.


Pelé may not have the amount of trophies as some players, but there’s plenty of arguments that he is still one of the greatest soccer players to ever live, if not the greatest.

Though the debate over who is actually the best ever goes on, there is no question about who made the biggest impact in the World Cup. Pelé is the only player in history to lift the World Cup trophy on three different occasions, in 1958, 1962, and 1970. The Brazilian legend left his mark straight away, scoring twice against Sweden in the 1958 World Cup to become the youngest ever goalscorer at the tournament at just 17 years and 249 days old. That record has yet to be broken to this day.

Pelé is one of five players to have scored at four different World Cups and one of only four to have scored in two World Cup finals.

World Cups scored at (four or more):

PlayerNationWorld Cups scored at
Christiano RonaldoPortugal5
Lionel MessiArgentina4
Miroslav KloseGermany4
Uwe SeelerGermany4

World Cups finals (multiple scored in):

Zinedine ZidaneFrance
Paul BreitnerGermany

“A soccer legend, Brazilian legend, international legend,” said French international player Antoine Griezman of Pelé. “No matter what I say, it’s not going to be on the level of the person and player that he was.”

The only other player to have scored more goals at the World Cup than Pelé is Ronaldo Nazario with 15. Pelé had 12 goals in 14 World Cup appearances. He ranks fifth among the all-time top scorers in the tournament.

All-time top scorers at the World Cup

Miroslav KloseGermany16
Ronaldo NazarioBrazil15
Gerd MüllerGermany14
Just FontaineFrance13

It’s not just goals that Pelé contributed to the world’s biggest stage - since Opta records began tracking assist data for World Cups in 1966, Pelé's six in 1970 is the most in a single edition of the competition. His four goals and six assists at the 1970 World Cup contributed to 53% of Brazil’s total goals en route to World Cup victory.

His legacy in the World Cup will forever be the greatest. Pelé is in the hospital for colon cancer treatments as well as a respiratory infection. He has said watching Brazil in the World Cup gives him energy. He remains in stable condition in the hospital as of this writing, and should be okay to watch his nation take on South Korea in the Round of 16 today.

Don’t miss Brazil vs South Korea in the Round of 16

“He is going to be well, it is a matter of time,” said Pelé's grandson Arthur Arantes do Nascimento. “He will see Brazil lift the sixth title.