Pele, the world renowned footballer, began his career in 1957 when he joined the Santos; Right from the beginning of his career he gained fame as a scorer. Towards the middle of October 1969 the Brazilian press discovered that was close to a score of one thousand goals in the first class football. The newspapers wrote that only MaCrory of Great Britain had scored 500 goals. They remarked that MaCrory had done that during a time when the defences weaker that what they were at the moment. Any player to score a thousand goals would immortalize himself as well as his country.
In the United State the newspaper compared scoring a thousand goals in soccer to hitting a home run in every game in baseball. At that time Pele had scored about 990 goals in less than 900 games. In England they compared it with the records of all the great footballer of the past. No footballer in the past had come any where near 1000 goals. The number had always been considered impossibility. Pele’s score of about 990 goals was reported and highly admired all over the world. This did not make Pele feel proud and delighted. On the contrary it made him feel nervous. He would have been delighted to be informed that he had scored his thousand goals scored the day before. Having it ahead of him and being referred to daily in the newspapers and on the radio made him feel very nervous.
As long as he was far away from the magic number things continued to go well. On 15 October he scored four goals in a match against Portuguese Desportes and brought his score to 993. A week later, playing against Coritiba, he raised his record to 995. He was only five goals away from the magic number. Now newspaper and radio correspondences from all over the world came around to watch every game he played. Every time he approached the goal area cameras from all sides of the net would be focused on him. It became irritating. His next game was against Fluminense. It went goalless for him and his team. On November! He played against Flamengo. In this match he scored his 996th goal.
On 6 November Brazil was beaten by Corinthians 4-1. Pele had failed to score any goal. The pressure was telling upon Pele and his fellow players. Five days later they played against Sao Paulo Football club. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. Pele had again failed to score. The newspapers and radio stations through out Brazil and the rest of the world got worried. They had been waiting for long and spending a lot to catch the thousandth goal lives and report it. The Santos team was eagerly waiting for Pele’s thousandth goal. Only after that they could play freely without cameras focused on them. On 12 November Santos defeated Santa Cruz 4-Mi. Pele had two goals from the match. His tally rose to 998. His next game drew in more reporters and camera men. Two days Pele played his next match. In this match he scored his 999th goal. They had their match at Bahia against the Esporte Club on 15 November. Every radio in the country was tuned into the game.
When he came out on to the field. Pele felt nervous. He had a sad feeling that he would play for year without end for his thousandth goal which would elude him for time without end. The goal would always be in front of him; it would be taunting him and preventing him from playing him natural game. The cameras focused on him looked like monsters watching him coldly. The Bhajans newspapers had reported that there would be a grand celebration that evening if Pele would score his thousandth goal. There would be a special thanks giving Mass for the event.
Pele tried to shake off his fears and play his best. However be could not ease the pressure affecting his game. He never got a first class opportunity until just before the game ended. The ball was passed to him. Avoiding the defence he dribbled it down the field. Sure that he had beaten the goalkeeper he kicked the ball very hard. It struck the cross-bar and came back rebounding. Pele’s team mate Jair Bala got the ball and kicked it into the net. The magic number still eluded Pele.
Santos had its next match against Vasco da Gama in the Maracana Stadium in Rio. The Cariocas were very glad at having the opportunity of seeing the thousandth goal kicked in their home town. Pele was beginning to think that the number one thousand was a bringer of bed luck. God never wanted that any one should ever score one thousand goals. Confirming Pele’s idea that God was against it rained heavily on November 19.the day of the match. In spite of the heavy and continual down pour there were 80.000 spectators who had come to witness the event.
Rene of Vasco da Gama was guarding Pele. He was strongly built. His legs were like tree trunks. All through the game Rene was one every side of Pele; wherever he went. The field was wet. The rain was hitting against the eyes of the players. The first half was almost gone with Pele barely touching the ball. Then, at last, for a split second, Pele caught Rene off balance. He feinted him out of position and went off for the goal area before Rene could recover. He avoided the other defenders who ran to intercept him. Then he kicked the ball hard and high feeling sure that it would fly into the net. He was almost blinded by the flash heights. Yet he could watch the goalkeeper leaping and diverting the ball over the cross- bar with the tips of his fingers.
Pele was disappointed but he now realizes that the magic number was not a jinx. The thousandth goal was a goal like any other goal. God had nothing to bother about an ordinary goal in football. He had feinted Rene out of position and could do it again. He only needed to calm down and get the goal. He was passed the ball again. Once again he feinted Rene out of position dribbled through the defenders and took the shot. The ball hit the cross-bar. He was in position to head it in. Before he could do so Rene headed it for a goal against his own side. Pele felt sure that this demoralizes Vasco. They would make more and more mistakes. He would get more opportunities to score. The crowed booed Rene for preventing Pele from scoring his thousandth goal.
Once again got a pass. He had the two backs between him and the goalkeeper. The two backs, Rene and Fernando were split. Pele took off a fast as he could. Fernando divided at him, trying to trip him. The referee awarded a penalty kick in favor Santosh. Pele had never hoped to score his thousandth goal from a penalty kick. Now he was eager to finish doing it, no matter how. For long he stood over the ball, trying to clear the misgivings from his mind. He was trying to relax and regain the calmness he had felt only moments before. He forced away all fears and doubts from his mind. He told himself that standing there could only increase the chance of missing. Then suddenly, he kicked the ball and watched it curving nicely into the net.
The crowd roared. The photographers and reporters rubbed him at once. Not caring for the police hundreds and hundreds of spectators ran into the ground. His jersey was being torn off his shoulders. Someone pressed another jersey on him. This one had the number 1,000 on it. The spectators raised Pele on to their shoulders and carried him around the field. The crowds cheered as they passed them. Then he was on his feet again. The crowd demanded that he trot around the field so that everyone could admire the New Jersey. Pele jogged past the crowd, his heart beating rapid. He was glad that the ordeal was over and happy that he had done it. A substitute was sent in and Pele went into the dressing room. He took off his new jersey, folded it neatly and placed it on the bench beside him. He was to take it home and treasure it forever. The next morning all the newspapers brought out front page reports o the event.