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regular-article-logo Sunday, 19 May 2024

Pele's memorable goals

Pelé made scoring look easy, getting the ball into the net in the most varied and beautiful ways — dribbling past defenders, firing powerful shots, striking well-placed free kicks or using firm headers

Our Bureau, AP/PTI Published 31.12.22, 05:15 AM
A young Pele scores his first-ever goal for Brazil in a 1957 Copa Roca match against Argentina at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

A young Pele scores his first-ever goal for Brazil in a 1957 Copa Roca match against Argentina at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. Picture courtesy CBF

Pelé made scoring look easy, getting the ball into the net in the most varied and beautiful ways — dribbling past defenders, firing powerful shots, striking well-placed free kicks or using firm headers. Nearly 1,090 of his goals came with the Brazilian club Santos, and 95 were scored with Brazil’s national team. Not all of Pelé’s goals are available as pictures, but there is enough video footage for a compilation of his memorable goals. Here goes:

THE FIRST

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When: Sept. 7, 1956.

Where: Santo Andre, Brazil.

Against: Corinthians of Santo Andre.

How: Pelé was a teenager and had just started playing for Santos. He found the net just moments after coming into the match in the second half, helping Santos win the friendly match 7-1. Corinthians’ goalkeeper at the time, Zaluar, later created a business card in which he identified himself as “the first goalkeeper to ever concede a goal to Pelé”.

FIRST FOR BRAZIL

When: July 7, 1957

Where: Maracana, Brazil

Against: Argentina

How: A 16-year-old Pele came on as a substitute for Emmanuele Del Vecchio in this Copa Roca game. Argentina hardly noticed him. “We weren’t paying special attention to him because the whole Brazil side was so strong. They had Zito, Bellini, Mazzola... he was just a kid,” admitted Amadeo Carrizo, the goalkeeper for the Albiceleste that day. But Pele had a point to prove. In the 76th minute, the ball broke to him inside the box. And the fine finisher he was, a split second later, the ball was in the back of the net — his first goal for Brazil.

THE BEST EVER?

When: Aug. 2, 1959.

Where: Sao Paulo.

Against: Juventus of Sao Paulo.

How: The goal, known as one of his greatest ever was not caught on tape, but it was digitally recreated for a movie about Pelé based on accounts by players, fans and journalists who were at the historic match at Rua Javari, home to Sao Paulo club Juventus. Pelé received the ball just inside the area and immediately flicked it past the first defender who challenged him. He lobbied the ball over another defender near the penalty spot and, without letting it hit the ground, quickly flicked it over the third defender and over the goalkeeper. With an open net in front of him, he headed the ball home. Juventus later honoured Pelé for his goal with a statue and a commemorative plaque at the stadium.

WORLD CUP FIRST

When: June 19, 1958.

Where: Gothenburg, Sweden.

Against: Wales.
How: Pelé’s first World Cup goal was a beauty. It happened in the 66th minute of a difficult game against Wales in the tournament’s quarter finals. With his back turned to the goal, the 17-year-old Pelé controlled the ball with his chest and quickly flicked it toward the goal and past a defender, then fired a right-footed low shot into the corner.

Pele celebrating during the 1970 World Cup final against Italy in Mexico City.

Pele celebrating during the 1970 World Cup final against Italy in Mexico City. Picture courtesy CBF

FIRST IN A FINAL

When: June 29, 1958.

Where: Solna, Sweden.

Against: Sweden.

How: Pelé scored six goals in his first World Cup, including twice in the 5-2 win in the final against the hosts. His first goal gave Brazil a 3-1 lead in the 55th minute, and the second was a header near the final whistle to close the scoring. Pelé’s first goal was the most impressive — he lobbied the ball over a defender inside the area before striking a firm shot from near the penalty spot.

LAST IN A FINAL

When: June 21, 1970.

Where: Mexico City.

Against: Italy.

How: Pelé scored his 12th & final World Cup goal with a remarkable header past Italy keeper Enrico Albertosi in front of more than 107,000 people at Azteca Stadium, opening the way for Brazil’s 4-1 win & a third world title. After a left-flank cross by Rivelino, Pelé jumped high into the air behind an Italian defender and firmly headed the ball into the corner.

THE 1,000TH

When: Nov. 19, 1969.

Where: Rio de Janeiro.

Against: Vasco da Gama.

How: The milestone goal came from a penalty kick at a packed Maracana. Pelé was fouled to set up the penalty, then calmly hit a low shot into the right corner in the 78th minute, giving Santos a 2-1 win. Vasco goalkeeper Andrada guessed the side correctly but was not able to make the stop. Pelé ran to pick up the ball inside the goal as reporters and photographers stormed the field to record the moment. The match was stopped for several minutes. Pelé raised the ball as he was carried away from the net and celebrated by going around the field near the crowd. Although it was a home game for Vasco, most of the 65,000 people in the crowd were cheering for Pelé, who dedicated the goal to Brazil’s children.

WORTH A PLAQUE

When: March 5, 1961.

Where: Rio de Janeiro.

Against: Fluminense. ■ How: It became known as the Gol de Placa, now a synonym for an outstanding goal, because it received a commemorative bronze plaque at the Maracana Stadium. It was another one of Pele’s goals not caught on tape, but reports from the time said that Pelé crossed nearly the entire length of the field dribbling past his opponents before finding the net to lead Santos to a 3-1 win over Fluminense. The plaque at the Maracana still reads, “On this pitch, on March 5 of 1961, Pelé scored the most beautiful goal in the history of the Maracana.”

COSMOS WONDER

When: Aug. 10, 1976.

Where: New York.

Against: Miami Toros.

How: One of the few bicycle kick goals of Pelé ‘s career came in the last match that the New York Cosmos played at Yankee Stadium, an 8-2 thrashing of the Miami Toros. After a right-flank cross into the penalty area, Pelé thrust his body into the air and struck the ball with his right foot high above the rest of his body, sending a rocket into the net.

CLUB GLORY

When: Oct. 11, 1962.

Where: Lisbon, Portugal.

Against: Benfica.

How: Pelé had a stellar performance in the decisive match against Benfica in the Intercontinental Cup, scoring three goals to lead Santos to a 5-2 win and its first club world title. His second goal was the most impressive — he used his body to elude the first defender then burst into the area past two other opponents before firing a left-footed shot into the far corner.

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