On This Day In 1957: Pelé Makes His Debut On The World Stage, Aged Just 16

Martin Cloake

7th, July 2015

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By Martin Cloake

A lifetime of record-breaking began on 7th July 1957 when Edson Arantes do Nascimento made his international debut for Brazil against Argentina, aged just 16 years and 9 months.

The goal the player better known as Pelé scored that day made him the youngest person ever to score in international competition at that time. Start as you mean to go on, and all that!

Pelé had signed professional forms for Brazilian club Santos aged only 15, and just two years after turning professional he inspired his country to victory in the 1958 World Cup, scoring six goals in the competition, including two in the final.

In that tournament, he became the youngest player to score a goal at the finals when he netted against Wales aged just 17 years and 239 days old.

Pelé’s club side Santos won the Brazilian championship five times in a row between 1961 and 1965, and in 1962 and 1963 he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, South America’s answer to the Champions League.

In 1962, he scored a hat-trick against the great Benfica side featuring Eusebio as Santos won the Intercontinental cup 5-2.

By 1970, Pelé was still turning out for Brazil at World Cup finals, and his contribution to his country’s victory made him the first player ever to win three World Cups.

His 77 goals in 92 international appearances mean he remains Brazil’s top scorer, though Neymar – with 44 goals in 64 games at the age of just 23 – is definitely coming up on the rails.

You can follow Martin Cloake on Twitter at @MartinCloake and find more about his books and writing at www.martincloake.com