Pele Dies: Brazil great's defining moments – from World Cup magic to Copa Libertadores glory

By Sports Desk December 29, 2022

Brazil legend and three-time World Cup winner Pele has died at the age of 82, leaving behind one of the greatest sporting legacies.

Pele passed away in Sao Paulo on Thursday, leaving the football world in mourning for the loss of one of its all-time legends.

Across a playing career that spanned over two decades, Pele scored for fun and won countless honours.

Here, Stats Perform has picked through some of the iconic moments that helped shape his mystique and reputation in the game.

 

The Selecao double (1958 World Cup Final)

Already a talent back home, Pele was yet to even complete his first year with Brazil when he caught the imagination half the world away in Sweden, with a string of superb performances at his first World Cup.

He capped it by becoming the then-youngest player to feature in a World Cup final, at 17 years and 249 days, and scored a brace to help his side to victory – including an audacious first that saw him volley a great finish.

 

The Copa brace (Santos 3-0 Penarol, 1962 Copa Libertadores Finals)

For back-to-back years, Uruguayan heavyweights Penarol had been the undisputed kings of South American club football, but over a two-legged final, Santos had been able to hold them at bay.

That forced a third leg, a playoff to decide who would be crowned Copa Libertadores champions – Pele scored a rapid-fire brace after the restart to put the result beyond doubt.

The halfway-line shot (Brazil 4-1 Czechoslovakia, 1970 World Cup)

A dozen years on from Sweden, and having missed his side's victorious final in 1962 through injury, Pele headed to Mexico for what many assumed to be a chance at correcting unfinished business.

In their first game of the tournament, Brazil ran out convincing winners against Czechoslovakia – but it was the forward's non-goal, an audacious lob from the halfway line that was just pulled wide, that many remember as an enterprising play.

The wonder save (England 0-1 Brazil, 1970 World Cup)

If another moment from the tournament lives fast in the memory though, it's another miss from Pele – but on this occasion, the attacker can't be blamed for not finishing this effort.

He looked to have done everything right, planting a superb downward header off a cross from out wide, only for England goalkeeper Gordon Banks to acrobatically keep it out. A defining moment for both men.

The dummied miss (Uruguay 1-3 Brazil, 1970 World Cup)

It is a testament to how enshrined 1970 – Pele's third and final World Cup triumph – is in his legacy that it is three chances, three misses that linger in the memory.

This time, Pele took the ball on to Uruguay goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz and dummied him, before rounding to the right to strike. His shot agonisingly missed the bottom-left corner – but still didn't hurt his side's victory.

Related items

  • Van Dijk welcomes Slot arrival as Liverpool captain commits to Reds future Van Dijk welcomes Slot arrival as Liverpool captain commits to Reds future

    Virgil van Dijk insists his future remains solely with Liverpool as the Reds captain welcomed incoming Dutch compatriot Arne Slot.

    Slot will replace Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager, with the Dutchman expected to take charge at Anfield from Saturday after sealing his switch from Feyenoord.

    The soon-to-be Liverpool boss leaves the Netherlands after three highly successful seasons with Feyenoord, having led them to the league title in 2023.

    Slot will be welcomed by two fellow countrymen on the red side of Merseyside, with Van Dijk and Ryan Gravenberch eager to link-up with their new manager.

    As Netherlands began their Euro 2024 training camp on Monday, Van Dijk told a news conference: "I still have a year left on my contract.

    "I am club captain and I have made it clear I am there for the new coach and enthusiastic over the next season.

    "Obviously, there will be a lot of changes but I am confident we will make a big success of it.

    "I congratulated [Slot] of course and I'm really pleased for him and his family. We spoke about the team and the future but now my focus is fully on the national team."

    Slot's reign ended with six straight league wins and Feyenoord did not lose any of his final 20 Eredivisie matches at the helm, their last defeat coming against PSV on December 3.

    The 45-year-old oversaw exactly 150 games in charge of Feyenoord across all competitions, winning 98 of those contests (65.33 per cent).

    Slot also won the KNVB Cup glory in April, overseeing a 1-0 win over NEC Nijmegen in the final of that competition, and Gravenberch believes that success has earnt his Liverpool move.

    "I think he can be good for my career, he's a coach who wants to play good football," added Gravenberch.

  • UEFA and FIFA warned to halt Super League opposition by Spanish court UEFA and FIFA warned to halt Super League opposition by Spanish court

    FIFA and UEFA have been told to stop their opposition against the European Super League (ESL), with a Spanish court ruling warning of anti-competitive behaviour and abuse of a dominant position.

    Madrid's commercial court said on Monday the European and world governing bodies violated competition law by banning and punishing clubs from participating in a proposed new tournament.

    FIFA and UEFA were told to reverse any anticompetitive actions committed in the past after A22 Sports Management, the company behind the plan to create the ESL, brought the case to Spanish court.

    "It's an important step towards a truly competitive and sustainable club football landscape in Europe," A22 CEO Bernd Reichart said in a statement after the ruling. 

    "For too long UEFA has been allowed to control and dominate club football at European level."

    Reichart added that UEFA's position on the ESL has "stifled innovation for decades", though celebrated "the era of the monopoly [as] definitively over". 

    The case was also brought against LaLiga and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), though that pair and UEFA insisted the court ruling did not explicitly support the creation of the Super League.

    "The court has not given the green light to, nor has it approved, projects like the Super League," UEFA said in a follow-up statement. 

    "In fact, the judge has asserted that the Super League project has long been abandoned and that she cannot be expected to rule on any abstract projects.

    "In short, the judgment does not give third parties the right to develop competitions without authorisation and does not concern any future project or indeed any modified version of an existing project."

    English football's so-called 'big six' – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – were founding members of the original Super League project in April 2021.

    Yet those Premier League clubs quickly withdrew amid fan protests and pressure from the football authorities, with Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid following a similar suit.

    UEFA has since changed its rules around new competitions following the collapse of the ESL proposal in April 2021 and the court says those new rules are unaffected by Monday's ruling.

    "The court also confirmed that the current version of UEFA's authorisation rules [as adopted in June 2022] is not affected by today's ruling," the European governing body added.

  • Bonmati named Women's Champions League Player of Season for second straight campaign Bonmati named Women's Champions League Player of Season for second straight campaign

    Aitana Bonmati secured the Women's Champions League Player of the Season for a second straight campaign after guiding Barcelona to European glory.

    The Spain international scored in Saturday's 2-0 victory over Lyon in the final, helping Jonatan Giraldez's side clinch an unprecedented quadruple.

    Fellow Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas produced the other goal in that victory, but Bonmati was named Player of the Match after another eye-catching performance.

    With six goals and six assists, the 26-year-old managed more goal contributions than any other player in this season's Champions League, and that earned Bonmati further individual recognition.

    "She influenced the game all over the pitch in and out of possession. High progressive passes, high ball recoveries and scored a great goal," UEFA's technical observer panel said in a statement.

    Bonmati also scored eight goals in Barcelona's victorious Liga F campaign this season, helping the Spanish giants win the competition for a fifth consecutive time.

    Having already won the Ballon d'Or and FIFA's best women's player award for 2023, this UEFA award caps a fine season for the impressive Bonmati.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.