In 1958, the Brazilian World Cup soccer team arrived in Sweden with a secret weapon – a 17-year old phenomenon named Edson Arantes do Nascimento more commonly known as Pelé. He was the youngest to ever play in the World Cup at that time.
Brazil was hoping to win its first World Cup, having lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Italy in 1938 and lost at home to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup Final. Pelé, who was recovering from a knee injury, would not play until the third game of the first round. His first goal was the game winner in the quarterfinals against Wales.
In the semifinals against France, Pelé exploded for three goals in the second half leading Brazil to a 5-2 win.
In the finals, Brazil faced host Sweden in Stockholm. With Brazil ahead 2-1 at halftime, Pelé made it 3-1 with a goal at the 55-minute mark. He would seal the 5-2 win with his second goal in extra time.
In 14 World Cup matches over four separate World Cup’s, Pelé would score twelve goals and lead Brazil to a 12-1-1 record. He would lead Brazil to World Cup wins in 1962 and 1970. After the 1962 win, the Brazilian government declared Pelé as an “official national treasure” to prevent foreign clubs from signing him.
In 2008, Brazil’s President Lula honored Pele and his teammates for the 50th anniversary of their historic win.