Football

How many trophies did Pele win?


The great Pele springs to mind whenever a conversation around football’s greatest takes place – the iconic Brazilian is truly a master – and creator – of the beautiful game, whose stardom transcended the pitch.

Over the course of a 21-year footballing career, the legend was famed for a perfect cocktail of creative artistry and clinical flair that saw him rocket to the top of the game – and of course even earn a career on the silver screen.

But it’s the litany of silverware he accrued over his career that reflects his extraordinary stature in the footballing world – a lengthy list that reminds everyone just how truly special a footballer the man was.

Most of Pele’s career was spent with Brazilian outfit Santos, for whom he featured 660 times and scored 643 goals from 1956 to 1974.

The sublime goal-scoring record certainly translates into the club’s collective exploits during Pele’s time there. With Santos, the Brazilian icon picked up six Brazilian Serie A titles, won the Campeonato Paulista (a competition contested by the teams within the Sao Paulo region) 10 times, lifted the Copa Libertadores trophy twice and won two Intercontinental Cups among a few other, more minor honours.

In 1975, Pele moves to New York Cosmos, with whom his collection of silverware didn’t slow down. He spent three seasons with the North American Soccer League outfit, winning the Atlantic Conference Championship and subsequently the Soccer Bowl in 1977.

Anyone would likely tell you, however, that Pele’s greatest achievements came on the international scene.

The legendary striker is synonymous with the World Cup, winning the tournament a whopping three times – a tally that anyone is yet to match. Pele competed in four World Cups, winning the competition in 1958 (his debut participation), 1962 and 1970. His record-three World titles comes with an incredibly impressive record of 12 strikes and ten assists in 14 World Cup appearances.

Pele, however, never won a Copa America title with Brazil – the country went 40 years without winning the competition between 1949 and 1989 – although did lift the Taca do Atlantico (a smaller tournament for South American sides) in 1960 as well as winning several other inter-federation events.

Incredibly unjustly, Pele never won the Ballon d’Or – a truth completely decided by geography. Until 1995, the most prestigious individual honour was exclusively granted to European players.

On the Ballon d’Or’s 60th anniversary, however, France Football released a re-evaluation of the awards presented before 1995. Retrospectively, 12 of the 39 Ballons d’Or presented during this time period would have been awarded to South American players, with Pele in hindsight picking up seven – another record he’d be able to cling onto.

France Football‘s re-evaluation would have seen the Brazilian icon receive the prestigious award instead of Raymond Kopa in 1958, Alfredo Di Stefano in 1959, Luis Suarez in 1960, Omar Sivori in 1961, Lev Yashin in 1963, Denis Law in 1964 and Gerd Muller in 1970. While this is a nod to what might have been, the official awards before 1995 have remained unchanged – it’s just nice to know.

In any case, Pele did not go without individual recognition for his remarkable career. Among numerous inductions to Halls of Fame and accolades accumulated throughout his playing days, Pele was named Player of the Century by FIFA in 2000.



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