When did Pele Play Soccer ? Which teams did Pele play for? Know about the ‘Black Pearl’s’ career

When did pele play soccer ? While so many players’ greatness fades with time, generation after generation still knows Pele as one of the greatest footballers ever. The Brazilian legend passed away on December 29 at the age of 82 after a battle with colon cancer.

Pele’s eternal greatness is anchored in his three World Cup triumphs and the incredible impact he had on each tournament, as well as his 757 official (1,283 claimed) career goals.

We take a look at the club career of FIFA’s Player of the 20th Century which is perhaps given less of the spotlight when it comes to talking about his impact.

Which clubs did Pele play for?

Unlike the men Pele is compared to in heated GOAT debates, the Brazilian icon never played in Europe. In fact, he only spent two seasons outside of his native land.

Pele signed for Brazilian side Santos at just 15-years-old in 1956, and didn’t leave until 1975.

The forward is Santos’ all-time record appearance maker (636) and, naturally, top goalscorer (618).

Pele retired from competitive action after the 1974 season before making a shock comeback to sign for New York Cosmos, playing in the emerging North American Soccer League.

Pele’s arrival brought an immense buzz to the MLS’ predecessor, with only David Beckham’s LA Galaxy transfer comparing in the modern age. Before retiring, Pele scored 37 goals in 64 games for the Cosmos.

Pele’s years in the US couldn’t convince Americans to love soccer, though, and both the Cosmos and the NASL folded in 1985.

when did pele play soccer

Why did Pele never play in Europe?

While Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona were prolific in Europe decades later, Pele never moved continents to test himself against the game’s greatest teams.

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Real Madrid were of course among the teams who tried to sign Pele, but he turned the Spanish giants down.

The Brazilian legend explained it himself: “I had many offers to sign for Madrid, Barca, Milan and Bayern, but I was happy at Santos and that’s why I stayed for 18 years,” he said.

“When I left it was an experience to go to the Cosmos and promote football, do soccer clinics and learn English… if not I would never have left Brazil.”

Pele career with Brazil

Pele holds the record of having won the most World Cups, leading Brazil to their first three triumphs on football’s biggest stage.

It seems impossible that any player could surpass Pele’s cultural importance in Brazil when, of their five World Cup glories, they have only lifted the trophy twice without him.

The striker was just 16-years-old when he scored on his Brazil debut against eternal rivals Argentina, a year before lifting his first World Cup and becoming the youngest player to feature in a final.

He scored twice that day, leading Brazil to a 5-2 win against Sweden. Pele also struck in the 1970 final, when Italy were resoundingly beaten 4-1.

When the great finisher ended his career, he had notched a stunning record of 77 goals in 92 international matches.

Which teams did Pele play for? Know about the ‘Black Pearl’s’ career

Brazilian legend Pele is one of the most influential figures in the history of football due to his innumerable achievements in the sport.

The talismanic forward, who featured among the most prolific goal-scorers of his era, passed away in December 2022 after a long battle with colon cancer.

During his two-decade-long footballing career, Pele played only for two clubs, namely Santos and New York Cosmos.

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One may wonder why a player of Pele’s stature did not ply his trade for any of the European heavyweights.

The reason lies in his love for his native land Brazil, where he grew up and became a part of Santos FC as early as a 15-years-old and went on to become an icon in his 19-season stay at the club.

The three-time World Cup champion once explained, “I had many offers to sign for Madrid, Barca, Milan and Bayern, but I was happy at Santos and that’s why I stayed for 18 years,” he said.

“When I left it was an experience to go to the Cosmos and promote football, do soccer clinics and learn English… if not I would never have left Brazil.”

when did pele play soccer

Which teams did Pele play for?

Santos FC

Pele represented several amateur teams during his youth, gaining much-needed experience in his formative days before Waldemar de Brito, who scouted his talent during the local tournaments took him to Santos FC to try out professional football.

In June 1956, he signed a professional contract with the club after impressing the coaches during the trials. The 1957 campaign saw the teenager flourish, becoming the top scorer of the league, which also helped him receive a national call-up from Brazil.

Having starred in Brazil’s title-winning 1958 and 1962 World Cup campaigns, he attracted inevitable interest from top European teams like Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus. Nonetheless, he turned each one of them down.

Pele won his first major title with Santos in 1958, where he also finished as the top scorer with an astonishing 58 goals, which is a record to date.

In November 1969, Pele scored his 1000th career goal across competitions against Vasco de Gama. Hundreds raced onto the pitch to horde the Brazilian star and it, reportedly, took roughly 30 minutes for the game to resume.

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Unsurprisingly, he became the talk of the town over the years, tormenting opposition defences time and again, entertaining the fans with his fine goal-scoring prowess, precise tackling and the ability to play with the same vigour with both feet.

Overall, he won a total of 25 club trophies with Santos FC in addition to immeasurable individual honours in a glittering career with the club.

New York Cosmos

In June 1975, Pele joined New York Cosmos and helped launch the ‘soccer’ revolution in the United States.

Having retired from national duty by then, he scored a goal on his debut for the new club in a 2-2 draw versus Dallas Tornado.

In his short tenure with the club, Pele, who was touted to be well beyond his prime days, scored 66 goals in 107 appearances for NY Cosmos, guiding them to North American Soccer League’s Soccer Bowl and Atlantic Conference Championship in 1977.

In October 1977, Pele played the final game of his career in an exhibition match against his former employers Santos. The contest ended 2-1 in Cosmos’ favour, with Pele scoring a 30-yard free-kick as his final goal of a sumptuous career.

Brazil national team

Pele featured in his first international match in July 1957 in a 2-1 loss against Argentina.

He scored his first goal in that match aged 16 years and nine months as he remains the youngest goalscorer for his country.

The ‘Black Pearl’ then won the 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cups, becoming the player with the most World Cup triumphs.

He also features in the list of Brazil’s top scorers, with 92 goals in 77 appearances.

All-in-all, he scored 1281 goals in 1363 matches throughout his career, becoming the most lethal goal-scorer in the history of the sport. However, more than 500 of these strikes came in unofficial matches.

Furthermore, he was voted ‘Athlete of the Century’ by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1999

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