Sport

Why Pele never played for a European club during his career

Brazilian football legend Pelé dies aged 82

Pele, one of football's biggest icons died yesterday (December 30), aged 82 and fans across the globe have been paying tribute to him.

The Brazilian legend had an illustrious career that saw him win the World Cup three times for his country in 1958, 1962 and 1970, and scored 77 goals in 92 matches for his national team.

He made World Cup history as the youngest player to lift the trophy aged 17 in 1958, and also remains the youngest player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final.

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But during his impressive career spanning 21 years, Pele never played European club football and instead played for Brazilian team Santos and American side New York Cosmos.

Given that Europe is home to some of the best football clubs in the world as well as the opportunity to play in the Champions League, and the chance to win the Ballon d’Or, some have questioned why Pele never made the move.

Though the former Santos player, previously revealed that this was close to becoming a reality, but doesn't regret the fact it never came to be.

"There were many times when I was very close to signing with Real Madrid, and then once more with Napoli in Italy," Pele told USA Today in 2016.

"It’s not a regret. I was at Santos, and at the time they were a powerhouse."

While in an interview with Spanish news outlet, Marca, he added: "I didn’t play outside of Brazil because I was very, very happy at Santos, I had the best 15-20 years of my life there. I had plenty of other proposals and not just from Real Madrid either, but I was ok where I was."

Other European clubs that were also interested in Pele included Manchester United and Juventus - the latter of which Pele revealed in an Instagram post back in 2018 when he wished Cristiano Ronaldo good luck for his first game for the Italian side.

"Good luck, Cristiano, for your first game with Juve. Had things worked out differently, I may have played for the Old Lady too," he wrote.

"Over dinner one evening in 1961, the owner of Fiat offered the president of Santos FC a million dollars to sign me! I only played in these stripes though."


Following the news of Pele's death, the football world has to social media with Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar leading the tributes for the legendary player.

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