I am least skeptical that each one of us would have noticed one fact : the star player of any team normally bears the jersey number 10, a token of trust and responsibility. Do you know why it has been so?

With the arrival of FIFA 2018, a series of novel interesting facts have begun to surface. Going along with this potent hype, Sarjana brings to you a series focusing on the legendary jersey number 10, the luminary giants who wore it and the saga behind.

Revelationary players wearing Jersey number 10 wasn’t an everyday scene before 1958. This was the year when everything changed and a new trend, which is going to last long, was created. This was the epoch when the legendary Pelé surfaced and bagged the world cup for his country.

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Pelé in 1958 world cup. Pic Credit: Sports Memorabilia.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, born on 23rd of October in the year 1940 in Brazil is a retired professional footballer who played as a forward. You must be thinking that we already know this, what’s new? Well wait for a little while and we’ll get there soon enough. Considered by many as the greatest football player ever (as if any doubt about that), he was awarded the title of “World Player of the Century” by IFFHS in the year 1999. Currently he works as a humanitarian, working constantly for the underprivileged. During his peak, being the most thickly-paid athlete in the world, he also is the most successful league goal scorer with an astonishing 1281 goals in 1363 games (including the unofficial friendlies and tour games). Since his retirement in the year 1977, Pelé has been a worldwide ambassador for football and was named the Honorary President of the New York-based soccer club, New York Cosmos for which, in the year of 1977 he also visited India and played a match in the Eden Gardens, Kolkata in front of a mammoth crowd of 80,000.

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Pelé with former President of Brazil, Lula. Pic Credit: Wikiwand.

Pelé began playing football at a mere age of 15 for Peixe and with an astonishing boost as a result of his extraordinary skill and unconventional style, landed straight to the Brazil national football team just at an age of 16. During his international career, he won three FIFA world cups: 1958, 1962 and 1970, and is till date the only player ever to do so. Pelé is the all-time leading goal scorer for both his country’s team with 77 goals in 92 games and his club Santos.

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Pelé’s jersey of his football club; Santos. Pic Credit: The Saleroom

Many professionals couldn’t fathom his potential because of his quirky style and beauty and termed it as child’s play and tried to leech it out, injecting in the conventional ways. Later, the magic caught the eyes of the Santos’ coach and after being given a chance, Pelé’s peculiar and sui generis play landed him straight into the national football team at a little age of 16. When the international eyes saw him in the matches and the world cup, they were such mesmerized by the fluidic movements of Pelé that they started connecting the phrase “The Beautiful Game” with football. There were two signature moves of Pelé that confused his opponents incredibly, as a result of which he moved past them as easy as pie. One of them used to be the drible da vaca in which he made use of sudden directional changes and feints to get past his opponents. Another one was known as the paradinha, or a little stop in which as the name suggests, he used to pause all of a sudden and thus using the inertia of his opponents to his advantage.

The date was June 29, 1958 when Pelé became the youngest player to play in a World Cup final match at a tender age of 17 years and 249 days. In that match, he scored two goals thus securing a 5-2 win for Brazil against Sweden in Stockholm, registering his name and the number 10 jersey in the early pages of football history and in the hearts of all the football fans worldwide.

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Brazil football team posing with the 1958 world cup. Pic Credit: The Wire.

Since retirement, Pelé has continued to be lauded by every sports enthusiast and journalists all over the world with an uncountable number of honors and prizes. Once French three-time Balon d’Or winner Michel Platini said, “There’s Pelé the man, and then there is Pelé the player. And to play like Pelé is to play like God.” Declared as the mascot of football in many places around the globe, he has also continued to work for social welfare as he believes that it is the duty of those who have, to help those who don’t. Last but not the least, in 1997 he received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace. So yes, practically he is Sir Edson Arantes do Nascimento.

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Pelé after receiving Knighthood. Pic Credit: The Twitter account of Pelé

Pele once said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” This statement is enough to tell us what kind of a person Pelé is and how much he struggled to achieve what he has. This is the story of the man who started it all, la personne numero uno to bear the number 10 – Pelé.

We would return shortly with more such megastars and their lore. Stay tuned!

5 thoughts on “The Saga of Jersey No. 10 – Episode I

  1. I wonder how you guys are drafting and executing so well with every sensation around the world, not-a-bit letting go, including your college activities and introduction to all-so-good alma matters, with such a small team. I really appreciate all your efforts – Sarjanites….

    Liked by 6 people

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