PeléWorld Cup Stars: Pelé – This week’s podcast is all about Pelé – one of the greatest ever footballers. You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the file below while you can also subscribe and listen to all our football-language podcasts. There is a transcript for this show which may help you to improve your language skills by reading as you listen, or if you are a teacher of English you can use the transcript to make different kinds of activities for your learners. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments then please email us at:

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DF: Hello everybody, this is Damian from the Languagecaster team – we hope you are all well. Now this week’s it’s Brazil’s greatest ever footballer, Pelé’s 80th birthday and so on this week’s podcast, we thought we’d talk a little about the great Brazilian superstar; one of the greatest ever footballers. Now, each era has its heroes and stars and today’s football world is dominated by players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi, who are role models to many young players, and who will go down in history as some of the greatest to have ever played the game.


But there is another player that has stood the test of time and is regarded as one of the greatest World Cup players of all time. Pelé appeared in four World Cups: 1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970, scoring 12 goals – the third most by any player – and creating many, many more. It was his first and last tournaments in Sweden and Mexico respectively that cemented his reputation as a world great.

In 1958, Pelé was 17 and had been playing for Santos and Brazil for only one year. No one could imagine what an impact the boy from Três Corações in the south of Brazil would have on the tournament, but by the time he had scored four goals, including a hat-trick against France in the semis on the way to reaching the final, everyone knew he was special. In the final, he scored one of the goals of the century. After chesting the ball down precisely, he then deliciously weighted a lob over a defender, and then polished it off with a clinical volley. Pelé scored another as Brazil overcame Sweden 5-2. He became the youngest player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup, and also the youngest to appear and to score in a final.

In 1970, in Mexico, Pelé was back to his best as part of the Brazil team which included such players as Jairzinho, Rivelino, Gérson and Tostão. It was ‘samba football’ at its pinnacle and Pelé was involved in many breathtaking goals and moves during the tournament, but perhaps the most famous was his involvement in an attack that resulted in what is often regarded as the perfect goal. In the final against Italy, Clodoaldo dribbled past four Italians, played the ball to Rivelino who struck a long pass down the left to Jairzinho. From Jairzinho, Pelé received the ball just outside the box in the middle of the field before waiting for the perfect moment to stroke the ball right into the path of Carlos Alberto, who smashed it into the net.

Goal scorer and goal maker, Pelé’s close control and timing have not really been surpassed. His obvious love for the game has seen him become a UNESCO goodwill ambassador and a recognised face beyond the football world. Perhaps this quote by Italian defender Burgnich, who marked Pelé during the 1970 World Cup final illustrates what a great player Pelé was, “I told myself before the game, he’s made of skin and bones just like everyone else — but I was wrong.”


DF: Thanks everyone for listening – remember that you can access the transcript for this short report by coming along to our site here at We’d love to hear from you so drop us a line at Bye.


Here are explanations of some of the words and phrases from the reading.

  • to dominate: to overpower others, to be the most important, to reign
  • role model: someone who young people want to copy / emulate
  • to stand the test of time: endure, remain unchanged for a long time, be permanent, last a long time
  • to cement (your) reputation: to make your reputation even stronger, make people think you are even better
  • impact: effect, impression
  • deliciously: delightfully, do something in a way that makes people admire it – Here, the lob was so good people were amazed
  • clinical: accurate, allowing for no error
  • pinnacle: the very top
  • to stroke the ball: pass the ball accurately and smoothly
  • to surpass: to get ahead of, to beat, to do better

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and if you have any suggestions, contact us at

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    Learn English Through Football
    Learn English Through Football

    Free football language podcast for learners of English brought to you by Damian and Damon. Interviews, match reviews, predictions all with full language support for football fans around the world who wish to improve their English language skills.

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    I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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    2009-10Episode 13