Pelé passed away in December 2022 at the age of 82 after a battle with cancer.
Since starring for Brazil and Santos as a teenager, Pelé has been recognised as one of the greatest footballers of all-time.
Nicknamed ‘The King’, the Três Corações native accumulated records and honours throughout his lengthy career, contributing to a CV rivalled by only a handful of athletes across all sports.
Accompanying his achievements on the field, Pelé’s affable personality added to the appeal of a man admired all over the world.
Let’s take a look at his career statistics and achievements.
Pelé’s Brazil Stats and Achievements
- Pelé scored 77 goals in 92 caps for Brazil and won three World Cups (1958, 1962, 1970).
- Pelé was Brazil’s all-time leading goal scorer until Neymar equalled his tally at the 2022 World Cup.
- Pelé won the World Cup Golden Ball in 1970 after receiving the Best Young Player and Silver Ball honours at the 1958 edition.
- No other player has won the World Cup on three occasions.
- Pelé’s tally of 10 World Cup assists is the most of all-time, and his six assists in the 1970 edition are the most in a single tournament.
- Only four other players have scored in two World Cup finals.
- Pelé is one of five players to score in four different FIFA World Cup tournaments.
- Pelé is the only player in football history to score 25 international goals before his 20th birthday.
- Pelé is the youngest World Cup goal-scorer ever and the only player to score in a World Cup before turning 18.
- Pelé is the youngest player to play, to score and to score twice in a World Cup final, all of which occurred when Brazil faced Sweden in 1958.
- Pelé is also the youngest player to score twice in a World Cup semi-final and the youngest player to start a World Cup knockout match.
- Pelé scored seven hat-tricks for Brazil, the last of which came against Belgium in 1964.
- Pelé is one of two players to have scored in two World Cup finals for winning teams.
- Pelé’s tally of three assists in World Cup final matches (one in 1958, two in 1970) is the most of all-time.
Pelé’s Santos Stats and Achievements
- Pelé scored 643 goals in 659 appearances for Santos between 1956 and 1974.
- Pelé won the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A on six occasions between 1961 and 1968.
- In 1962 and 1963, he won the Copa Libertadores, and finished as top scorer in the same competition in 1965.
- Across club and country, only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have scored more goals than Pelé.
- During his time with Santos, Pelé won the Campeonato Paulista on 10 occasions, and was top scorer in 11 separate seasons.
- Pelé is Santos’ all-time leading goal scorer and appearance maker.
- Pelé’s tally of 58 goals in the 1958 Campeonato Paulista season is the most by any player in a single season.
- Pelé won the Bola de Prata in 1970, an award given to the best player in the Campeonato Brasileiro.
Pelé’s Awards and Honours
- Pelé was voted World Player of the Century by IFFHS in 2000.
- Reuters named Pelé Athlete of the Century in 1999.
- TIME Magazine included Pelé in the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.
- In December 2000, FIFA named Diego Maradona and Pelé the joint-winners of FIFA Player of the Century.
- Pelé received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.
- World Soccer included Pelé in their Greatest XI Of All Time in 2013.
- In 2021, IFFHS named Pelé in their All-Time Men’s Dream Team.
- Pelé received the Best Player in History Award in 2022.
- Pelé’s tally of 92 career hat-tricks is the most of all-time.
- In 1959, Pelé scored 127 goals in a calendar year (including friendlies), which remains a record.
- When France Football re-evaluated the pre-1995 Ballon d’Or awards in 2016, Pelé was recognised as a deserving winner in 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1970.
- Pelé also received an honorary Ballon d’Or in 2013 for his service to football.
- Pelé received the Knight of the Order of Rio Branco in 1967.
- Pelé was given the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
- The United Nations elected Pelé a ‘Citizen of the World’ in 1977.
- In 1991, Pelé was awarded the National Order of Merit by the government of Brazil.
- The International Olympic Committee gave Pelé the Olympic Order in 2016.
- In 1997, Pelé was in the first group to win the Marca Leyenda alongside Michael Jordan, Michael Doohan, Miguel Indurain and Garry Kasparov.
Pelé’s Impact on US Soccer
- Pelé scored 66 goals in 107 appearances for New York Cosmos after coming out of retirement to move to the Big Apple.
- Pelé had a massive impact in raising the profile of soccer in the United States.
- Following his arrival in New York, several other superstars joined the NASL.
- Giorgio Chinaglia accompanied Pelé at the Cosmos, and they were later joined by Carlos Alberto and Franz Beckenbauer.
- Johan Cruyff, George Best, Bobby Moore and Eusebio also had stints in the US, elevating soccer in the country, and laying the foundation for what later became MLS.
- Pelé played his final career match at Giants Stadium with Moore and Muhammad Ali in attendance.
- The match was broadcast around the world and Pelé netted the final goal of his career with a first-half free-kick.
- Pelé won NASL MVP in 1976 and topped the league’s assist charts.
- The Cosmos retired Pelé’s number 10 in 1977.