Pelé, born Edison Arantes do Nascimento, can make a strong argument for being the finest soccer player ever. By the time of his retirement in 1972, he’d already helped win three World Cups for Brazil. But his comeback resulted in soccer coming to the attention of the one nation in the world hitherto resistant to its charms: America.
Pelé signed for the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 1975 and played to sellout crowds enthralled by his skills. He scored 37 goals in 64 appearances and took the Cosmos to a championship in his final season in 1977. That year also saw Pelé close out his career for good in an exhibition match between the Cosmos and Santos, the side he played for in Brazil. Playing the first half for the Cosmos and the second with Santos, he scored the last of his 1,138 goals as a Cosmos player.