As a young Black born in a poor Brazilian family, Pelé had one too many hurdles on his way ranging from the toxic social order to racial discrimination in a White supremacist Brazil.

However, the young man rose from the ashes of barefoot poverty to become not only the first true football icon but also a beacon of hope for all Blacks, as well as the poor. The excellence of ‘O Rei’ was an antidote to discrimination. His spectacular scoring feats thawed rac*sm and the existing social order.

His genius was his activism. At just 17, he won the FIFA World Cup in 1958 netting twice in the final against Sweden. Till date he is the youngest-ever scorer in the competition. He also went on to become the first and only player till date to win 3 FIFA World Cups, scoring 12 in 14 appearances. Till this day, he equally holds the record for most assists (10) in the World Cup. In a glittering career , Pele scored 1281 goals in 1363 matches for club and country.

Pele triggered belief in the Blacks, and the downtrodden, who began thinking “If He can, we too can”. Thanks to “The King”, the cards were reshuffled and redistributed, and things were never the same again.

Pelé transcends football. Aside his library of unmatched records, Pelé was a symbol of social mobility in Brazil, and hope for Blacks worldwide.

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