On this day: Pele retires from football

Back on this day in 1977, Brazilian legend Pele calls time on a career that saw him score over 1000 goals.

Some will argue that Diego Maradona is the best footballer to have ever played the game. Others will say George Best. Then there is the modern generation, who believe that when they retire, both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be able to lay claim to that title.

However, there is one virtual ever-present in the debate as to who is the greatest of all time - Pele.

A scorer of 1,283 goals, including a record 77 for the Brazilian national team, Edson Arantes do Nascimento - to give him his full name - is widely regarded to have been the most complete player to have ever laced up a pair of football boots.

He was signed by Santos as a 15-year-old and scored four times on his debut in a match against Corinthians in 1956. Just two years later, Pele was playing in the final of a World Cup and scoring twice as his nation overcame Sweden 5-2 to win the tournament for the first time.

The Samba outfit triumphed again four years later in Chile, but it was the striker's role in the 1970 instalment of the competition - the first to be screened on television in colour - that rubber-stamped his reputation around the world.

Pele in action for Brazil in May 1960.© Getty Images

He scored four times, including one in the final as Brazil dismantled their Italian counterparts 4-1 inside the Estadio Azteca.

Away from international football, the Tres Coracoes-born star would go on to reach the 1,000-goal mark for Santos in November 1969. His reaching of the milestone caused a 30-minute pitch invasion as supporters tried to mob their hero.

He quit the game in 1974, but was coaxed out of retirement a year later by the New York Cosmos. Although beyond his prime years, Pele was credited for driving up the popularity of the sport in America, along with a host of legends in their autumn of their careers.

Having helped the Cosmos win 1977 NASL championship, Pele ended his playing days later that year and on this very day in an exhibition match between the Cosmos and his first club Santos at the Giants Stadium. The visibly emotional frontman played a half for both teams, before he was carried around the pitch on the shoulders of his teammates.

He called time on his career with 92-hat-tricks to his name, as well as six five-goal hauls.

Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale in action during a friendly match against Swindon on July 16, 2013
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