Introduction by Pele
Now and then I stop to think. I think of people, the world which surrounds us and God. Are we what people say we are? I sometimes think that I am not the man that people say I am. I am sure of one thing – I am not alone. I owe what I am today to many people. They all, in their different ways, taught me something.
I only became what I am today because I was helped, encouraged, advised, taught, stimulated and criticized. With this book, in which the subjects are by no means fully dealt with, I hope repay a little of that which others have given me.
I hope that this answers the question which has been asked by so many people – “Pele, why are you writing a book?” I have accepted the ball that was passed to me and I have taken it a little bit further through my personal experience which has lasted seventeen years. In this way I am trying to give the future generations, especially the young who are just starting to love life and sports, a sort of inheritance of soccer technique. This will include basic moves in soccer such as passing, kicking, ‘killing the ball’, heading, etc.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as a ‘born’ soccer player. Perhaps you are born with certain skills and talents, but quite frankly it seems impossible to me that one is actually born to be an ace soccer player. Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do. It is because of this that I decided to help youngsters with my experience. That’s why this book exists.
To help me pass on my experience to you I have received a great deal of assistance from photographers, designers, editors, experts in lay-out and production, colleagues, distributors and others. But the most important person is you, for whom this book has been created. In life none of us is alone. We are always part of a team and each one has his own special function. Every individual is important.
Perhaps some of you will be disappointed not to find many new ideas in this manual. Soccer is a sport which consists of simple ingredients. We often forget this simplicity. This book is about the fundamental components of the game. This simplicity helped me to understand soccer.
Although we do not know the actual origin of soccer, we do know certain things about its history. The game as it is today evolved very gradually and a form of soccer is said to have been played many centuries before Christ. In China a game resembling soccer existed as long as 2500 B.C.. Egyptian pictures show people playing a game like soccer. But it was actually in Greece that a definite game began which eventually had a name – Spiskiros.
Soccer officially arrived in Brazil in 1894. It was introduced by Charles Miller, a Brazilian of English parentage. There is no need to tell you that soccer spread in Brazil and throughout the rest of the world. Neither I who was playing, nor those original founders of soccer, could have imagined that 800 million would see the memorable game between Brazil and Italy in the 1970 World Cup Final! More people today play this universal game than any other sport. It is because of this that I have been given the opportunity of traveling to every corner of the world.
I now want to share with you the experience I have gained from these marvelous seventeen years. The most important thing I have learned is that essentially sport is the best medium through which we can communicate. I saw the world because of soccer and got to know things and, more important, I got to know people. All these people that I have met have made me have faith in the future of mankind. I believe that one day we will be able to unite in a team, a greater team called humanity.
It seems that the Romans, when conquering Greece, learned the game and brought it back to Rome and called it Harpastum. In the Middle Ages the game appeared in France in the provinces of Brittany and Normandy under the name of Soule, in which they used a ball stuffed with bran or hay. It was an extremely violent game which allowed kicking, tripping up and even punching. Even today there are a lot of players who think they are playing Soule! A little later in the Middle Ages a game called Calcio began in Italy and this name is still used for soccer by many Italians. The skillful sport which we know today really began in the 19th century.
It was in England that modern soccer originated. At the beginning there was rather a lot of confusion and much discussion between those in favor of soccer played with the hands – rugby – and soccer played with the feet. The issue was settled in 1863, when those supporting the game played with the feet founded The Football Association to standardize the rules which have been followed ever since. The other group created Rugby Union, thereby finally separating the two games in 1871. From then on both sports began to develop an attract more supporters.
The Federation Internationle de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in 1904. FIFA had the task of supervising the structure and administration of a sport which was beginning to spread throughout the world. The International Board set the rules of the game which cannot be changed without the approval of all the countries belonging to FIFA. In 1920 soccer was included in the Olympic games in Antwerp, Belgium and in 1930 the first World Cup was won by Uruguay.