World Cup 2014: Pele's 10 Greatest Moments in Tournament History

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IJune 21, 2014

World Cup 2014: Pele's 10 Greatest Moments in Tournament History

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    Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

    Whether he or Maradona is the greatest footballer of all time remains a fierce point of contention, but what is undoubted is that Pele has single-handedly contributed a number of memorable moments to World Cup history.

    He may now be more famous among younger generations for his quotes to the media and terrible predictions, but to those of a certain age, he will always be a truly great sporting idol.

    Let's then take a look through the Brazilian's finest moments in World Cup competition.

10. Two Greats Collide

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    Associated Press

    They are pictures that to this day are shown as indicative of the values of sportsmanship, with Pele and Bobby Moore embracing and swapping shirts after a titanic clash between England and Brazil in 1970.

    "Bobby Moore is the best defender I have ever played against, and a gentleman of honour," the Daily Mail report Pele as later saying of his adversary who he escaped just once on the day to play a part in Brazil's only goal of the day.

    It is still regarded as one of football's great encounters between legends.

9. Forcing Football's Most Famous Save 1970

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    While one of Pele's greatest World Cup moments in terms of fame, it is Gordon Banks who deserves the credit on this occasion for a brilliant save low to his right side.

    Pele's header, though, is brilliant in its execution, rising high above the defender before heading powerfully down towards the goal. But for Banks' excellence, he would have another World Cup goal to his game.

8. A Near Miss from His Own Half 1970

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    Had it gone in, Pele's effort against Czechoslovakia in 1970 would be much closer to, if not at the very top of this list of his greatest World Cup moments.

    Only a handful of players have executed such a goal at the highest level and none at a World Cup, yet from his own half Pele was mere feet away from finding the back of the net.

7. Making a Fool of Uruguay in 1970

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    A World Cup semi-final is a great place to perform one of football's most iconic tricks, and in 1970 that is exactly what Pele did to embarrass Ladislao Mazurkiewicz in the Uruguay goal.

    The quick thinking to allow the ball to run on is only half the difficulty with speed then needed to reach the ball ahead of the retreating defence. Sadly his finish failed to match the ingenuity.

6. A Blistering Start in 1970

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    Brazil would ultimately achieve success in 1970 and set the tone for their triumph with an opening game 4-1 victory over Czechoslovakia, aided by this excellent Pele strike.

    With midfield hub Gerson delivering a superb ball into the area, the experienced Santos forward takes the ball down expertly on his chest before rifling home into the far corner.

5. Pele Downs France in 1958 Semi-Final

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    A hat-trick in a 5-2 victory over France saw Pele make a defining contribution in helping Brazil to the 1958 World Cup final in Sweden, including the excellent goal above (0:26).

    The best of his three strikes, the 17-year-old collects the ball off a teammate, flicking it into the air before spanking a volley past the goalkeeper.

    It was the tournament at which he made his name, and this goal went a long way to forming his legend.

4. Waltzing Through Mexico in 1962

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    A real contender for Pele's best individual goal at a World Cup came in Brazil's opening game of the 1962 World Cup when he scored this fantastic effort to add to Mario Zagallo's earlier strike.

    Showing speed, power and technique, the goal (6:17 in the video above) sees the Brazilian beat four men before getting a shot away between two advancing defenders and into the back of the net.

3. 1970 World Cup Final: Assisting Carlos Alberto

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    The 1970 World Cup final brought Pele his final success in a Brazil shirt, scoring early in a 4-1 victory over Italy famous for the Carlos Alberto strike, above.

    Pele played a major role in the final, albeit having been overshadowed by Jairzinho for much of the tournament. His vision to supply his captain for Brazil's most famous goal, though, ensures that his contribution to success lives long in the memory.

2. 1970 World Cup Final: A Header for the Ages

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    As mentioned, Pele set his side on the way to victory in the 1970 final with an early headed goal that to this day remains one of the most viewed goals in World Cup history.

    The iconic picture of the Santos star being lifted up in celebration has ensured the longevity of a goal that perfectly demonstrates the athleticism that made Pele such a phenomenal player.

1. 1958 World Cup Final

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    Just 17 years old, Pele was the star of the show for Brazil at the 1958 World Cup final including scoring the sensational goal above.

    Two goals in a 5-2 win saw the Selecao to a first-ever World Cup victory and a first of three for the king himself.

    To this day, he is the only player to have won three separate World Cup titles.