5 of Pele's greatest ever goals
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How do you narrow it down to just five?
It's an impossible task. Picking the best Pele goals is like trying to choose your favourite child. There are some amazing goals in Pele's back catalogue so choosing just a few favourites is always difficult.
The following is a cross-section of some of his greatest goals for club and country.
5. Brazil v Italy, 1970
The free-scoring 1970 Brazil team remains a high-water mark for football teams everywhere. The final against Italy promised to be a fascinating clash of styles. Brazil’s philosophy was “If you score two, we’ll score three.” Their Italian opponents followed the credo “A team that doesn’t concede can’t lose."
Within 20 minutes, Pele scored his now iconic header followed by that famous celebration. Rivelino found him in the box with a pinpoint pass. The superstar rose majestically above his defender and emphatically headed home.
It was 12 years since he’d scored in the 1958 final and it was Brazil’s 100th World Cup goal. Brazil would go on to win 4-1 and Pele won his third World Cup.
4. Brazil v Romania, 1970
Pele may be best known for his silky skills and lethal finishing but his free kicks were pretty special too. The pick of the bunch is arguably his free kick against Romania in the 1970 World Cup.
When you think of curling Brazilian free kicks, you tend to think of Roberto Carlos’s famous goal against France but it’s got nothing on this effort from Pele. The fierce swerve he generates is a reminder of his power and precision.
3. Santos v Benfica, 1962
This goal captures the dynamism and control that made Pele such a difficult opponent. Each time you think the run's going to come to an end, he adjusts himself or finds the extra burst of acceleration needed to get there ahead of the defender.
It's an exhilarating run that ends with a classy finish to beat the keeper. The goal is a wonderful combination of speed, energy, invention and that little bit of Pele genius.
2. Sweden v Brazil, 1958
“When we arrived in Sweden, no one knew what Brazil was,” Pele said, when recalling the World Cup in 1958. “They know about Argentina ... Uruguay. It was a surprise for us."
They’d soon know the 17-year-old genius who scored six goals in four matches, including two in a 5-2 win over Sweden in the final. His opening goal in that final is a perfect illustration of his creativity, invention and lethal finishing.
His touch, flick and deft finish contain all the hallmarks of a classic Pele move.
1. Santos v Athletico Juventus, 1959
This is the goal that Pele claims is his greatest of all time so who are we to argue. Unfortunately, there is no footage of it although it was reconstructed using computer graphics and contemporary accounts.
An 18-year-old Pele controlled a cross, lifted the ball over the heads of three defenders without letting it touch the ground, and then headed it into the net. If it was anything like the video below, it must have been pretty good!
Clip via Leo A
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