Whether you call it futbol or soccer, it is unarguably the world’s most popular sport. And the man known as its greatest all-time player is Edson Arantes do Nascimento. I can hear the collective “Huh?” reverberating from a great many of you. Who the hell is that? Well, you better know him as Pele. From the time he set foot on the International soccer scene, Pele was destined to be a superstar. And many around the world recognize him as the greatest footballer of all-time. After all, at the tender age of seventeen, Pele rose from the Brazilian slums to lead Brazil to World Cup victory, scoring a hat trick in the semi-final game. After the ’58 World Cup victory, he continued to star for the Brazilian National team as they again won the World Cup in ’62 and ’70. He first started playing for league football club Santos at the tender age of 15 and joined the Brazil National team at the age of 16. In addition to the 3 world Cup titles, Pele led FC Santos to 2 Inter-Continental Cups. After the ’58 World Cup win, the young Pele became the face of team Brazil. And the Brazilian team rode their new show pony to many victories including a 1964 dominating 5 to 1 beat down of the mighty team from England in which Pele scored 4 goals. With Pele leading the way, Brazil was no longer considered a mongrel among nations. Pele is even recognized with breaking the color barrier in international soccer as the game’s first black star. Prior to his arrival on the World competition scene international teams consisted of white players. This allegedly even caused young Pele to question teammates as to whether Brazil was only place in the world with black people. In 1958, with Pele, Brazil was the first multi-racial side to win the World Cup There are those who would question Pele’s legitimate claim to being the greatest player of all-times. They put forth the names of Diego Maradona, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi as legitimate challengers. Many of his fellow Brazilians would even argue that countryman Garrincha was a more accomplished player. They argue that he was solely responsible for the ’62 world cup victory after Pele went down with an injury. That Pele was only better at self-promotion than Garrincha. But not one of these players has the lifetime of achievements in the game that Pele does. Besides the 3 World Cups and 2 Inter-Continental Cups, Pele also came out of retirement from FC Santos to join the fledgling NASL New York Cosmos team in 1975 and led them to the 1977 NASL championship in his third and final season. He is credited with raising interest in the U.S. for the game and bringing legitimacy to the league. Even in his 70’s, Pele is still a global icon and the number one ambassador for the sport. Among the numerous awards and acknowledgments bestowed on Pele were the ’99 FIFA co-Player of the Century, the ’99 World player of the Century by IFFHS, the ’99 Athlete of the Century by IOC, the ’99 France Footbll Ballon d’Or winners choice for Football Player of the Century, and the ’99 TIME 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century. He received the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or Prix d’ Honneur in recognition of his career and achievements as a global icon of football. Pele scored 1281 goals in 1363 games including unofficial friendlies and tour games. He was Brazil’s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals in 91 games. Per the IFFHS, Pele was the most successful league goal-scorer in the world with 541 goals. He holds Guinness World record for most career goals in football. In 1970, Pele signed a record $120, 000 shoe deal with Puma. In the ’70’s, Pele was 2nd most recognized brand name in Europe behind only Coca-Cola. Now 73, Pele endorsement deals generate $25 million in revenue. On Oct. 1, 1977, Pele closed out his playing career in an exhibition match between his teams FC Santos and the New York Cosmos in front of a sellout crowd at Giants Stadium. It was televised in the U.S. on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and worldwide. The great Muhammad Ali was among those in attendance. Pele played the 1st half for the Cosmos and the 2nd half for Santos. Pele scored his final goal during the game on a direct free kick and the Cosmos won 2 to 1. For all of the above and much more, Pele is recognized as the greatest footballer of all-times.