Brazil Santos took advantage of superstar status
There has been plenty of controversy and debate over goalscoring records of late, but there’s one benchmark of Pele‘s that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will never meet.
After winning the 1958 World Cup with Brazil, a young Pele saw his reputation skyrocket in the footballing world.
His newfound fame saw more and more attention be paid to his exploits at Santos but, without widespread TV coverage or social media, there weren’t many ways to catch a glimpse of this exciting player.
Santos compensated for his lack of accessibility by parading Pele, playing an incredible 99 matches during the 1959 season.
Pele played in 82 of those games while also balancing his club career with his international one, turning out for Brazil 21 times in that period as well. That’s a total of 103 games in the space of a year!
To start with, Santos went off on a tour of South America and Central America, playing 14 matches in the space of 42 days in countries like Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Dutch Antilles and Venezuela.
Pele also had international commitments during that time, including setting off for Argentina with his Brazil teammates for the Copa America.
Following the end of the tournament, Pele and Santos went off on their travels again, playing 22 games in 44 days, taking in nine countries and 20 cities.
Pele played each of those 22 games, scoring in 17 of them and coming away with a total of 28 goals to his growing name.
After the final one of those 22 matches, against Real Betis in Seville, Santos gave their players 13 days off.
They were back in action on July 18 in the Paulista Championship and didn’t have another rest until the end of the calendar year, clocking up a total of 99 games in 1959.