PELE – MOST PROLIFIC BRAZILIAN STRIKER

EARLY CAREER

Edson Arrantes de Nascimento by his full name, Pele was born in Tres Coracoes in Brazil, in a family that loved soccer, his father being himself a player for Fluminese (his father was known as Dondinho). In this sporty atmosphere, the young Pele learned to enjoy the game, despite the poverty he grew up in.

The family’s situation was even harder when his father had to quit playing soccer professionally due to a knee injury. Thus, for young Pele, soccer was what he regarded as the only way out of poverty and he started training daily, but since he had no money to buy a real ball, he used a stuffed sock instead.

After forming up a “shoeless team” with his street kids, Pele and his team participated in a youth tournament, with Pele ending up as top goalscoarer. He was immediately noticed by former Brazilian international Waldemar de Brito, who called him to the youth squad of Baquinho, whom he trained and, for the first time, offered Pele money to play soccer. During his year at the club’s youth team, Pele managed to win the championship after a dazzling performance: 148 goals in just 33 matches.

SANTOS

At just 15 years of age, Pele was bought by Brazil giants Santos, where he would later team up with some of Brazil’s finest players of that era and future World Cup winners, such as Zito, Pepe or Coutinho. Just one year later after he joined Santos, he became the youngest player to start in the Brazilian first division at age 16 and even more incredibly, he became league top scorer at the end of the season! Talk about starting with the right foot.

As it was not yet the era of Brazilian players running for European careers, Pele remained at Santos for almost 20 years, time in which he scored (read carefully) 1087 goals in 1120 matches. Even if you’re not that good at maths, I’m sure you can acknowledge that as an astonishing goal per match ratio.

1000TH GOAL

One of the milestones in the history of Pele was definitely his 1000th goal scored in all competitions. It was both a highly anticipated moment and an emotional one. On November 19th, 1969 Pele already had scored 999 goals in his career, either for Santos or Brazil’s national team. Playing on the Maracana Stadium, Brazil’s “cathedral of soccer”, against arch-rivals Vasco Da Gama, Pele managed to score from a penalty kick and broke all records standing in front of him.

NATIONAL TEAM & RECORDS

Throughout his 15 years spent at the Brazil national team, Pele managed to break hundreds of records, but we’ll just follow up on those that are deemed most important:

  • He became the most prolific striker in Brazil’s history, with 77 goals in 92 matches.
  • Pele, the footballer who used to shine shoes in order to raise money for a real soccer ball, scored 12 goals in different World Cup matches, being beaten only by Ronaldo.
  • He is considered by FIFA the most prolific scorer in soccer history, with 1281 goals in 1363 matches in all competitions.
  • He is the only player to have won three World Cups (gasp!), although he did not receive a medal for the one in 1962, since he was injured in the final (he played on several other matches throughout the campaign though)
  • He is one of the few players to achieve the performance of scoring in two different World Cup finals, sharing this record with Paul Breitner, Vava and Zinedine Zidane.

Checkout the ASCII Art of Pele in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

http://www.4shared.com/document/wHIlKMmK/Pele_ASCII.html

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LIONEL MESSI – DIEGO MARADONA’S SUCCESSOR

Lionel Andrés Messi (born June 24, 1987 in Rosario) is an Argentine football (soccer) player. Lionel Messi started playing football at a very early age in his hometown’s Newell’s Old Boys. From the age of 11, he suffered from a hormone deficiency and as Lionel’s parents were unable to pay for the treatment in Argentina, they decided to move to Barcelona, Spain.

In the 2003-2004 season, when he was still only 16, Messi made his first team debut in a friendly with Porto that marked the opening of the new Dragao stadium. The following championship-winning season, Messi made his first appearance in an official match on October 16, 2004, in Barcelona’s derby win against Espanyol at the Olympic Stadium (0-1).

With several first team players seriously injured, the services of several reserve team players were called upon, and Messi became a regular feature of Barça squads. On May 1, 2005, he became the youngest player ever to score a league goal for FC Barcelona against Albacete when Messi was only 17 years, 10 months and 7 days old.

He was offered the chance to play for the Spain national football team, but declined, prefering to wait for the opportunity to play for the country of his birth. In June 2004 he got his chance, playing in a U-20 friendly match against Paraguay. In June 2005 he starred for the Argentina U-20 team that won the Football World Youth Championship played in The Netherlands. Messi picked up the Golden Boot as top scorer with 6 goals, and the Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament. Despite his youth, Lionel has already drawn comparisons with Diego Maradona, arguably the best football player of all time.

On September 25, 2005 Messi obtained a Spanish citizenship and was finally able to make his debut in this season’s Spanish First Division. He had previously been unable to play because FC Barcelona had filled up all of their quota of non-EU players. Messi’s first outing in the UEFA Champions League at the Nou Camp was on Sept 28 against Italian club Udinese. He impressed with some great passing and a seemingly telepathic relationship with Ronaldinho that earned him a standing ovation from the 70,000-odd Nou Camp faithful. On December of that year, the Italian newspaper Tuttosport awarded him the Golden Boy 2005 title for the best under-21 player in Europe, over Wayne Rooney and Lukas Podolski.

In September 2005, Messi was given an improved and extended contract until 2014.

Checkout the ASCII Art of Lionel Messi in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

http://www.4shared.com/document/HhtaNZ50/Lionel_Messi_ASCII.html

DAVID BECKHAM – THE ENGLISH FOOTBALLER

David was born on May 2, 1975 in Leytonstone, London to Ted and Sandra Beckham. David’s parents were Manchester United supporters and he accompanied then to many of the games. He signed for Manchester United as a trainee in July 1991 and he was instrumental in helping the club win the FA Youth Cup in May 1992, scoring in the second leg of the final against Crystal Palace. On September 23, 1992, David made his first team debut as a substitute in the Rumbelows Cup tie at Brighton and Hove Albion.During the two-and-a-half year wait to make his League debut, he collected a runners-up medal in the 1993 FA Youth Cup (United lost to Leeds in the final) and a reserve team championship medal in 1994. He also played five matches on loan for Preston North End, scoring two goals for the Lancashire club. His Premier League debut eventually came at home to Leeds United on April 2, 1995. Partially as a result of injuries to key starters, David established himself in the first team during the 1995/96 season.David played predominantly in the right midfield position that used to be occupied by Andrei Kanchelskis, and started to show the knack for scoring great goals, including the winner in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea. At the end of the season Man United walked away with their second Double. The springboard that launched Davids’s famous career came during the 1996/97 season. David was compared to Pele when he scored his most famous goal – from the halfway line against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. He went on to earn his first senior cap for England, on September 1, 1996 against Moldova in Kishinev.David’s match-winning performances during 1996/97 helped United to win another Premiership title and reach the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League. On a personal level, he was voted Young Player of the Year and second in the overall Player of the Year poll. Manchester United’s 1997/98 season was one to forget as they finished second to Arsenal in the League, lost to Barnsley in the FA Cup and were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Monaco. David enjoyed a memorable moment, when he was selected for England’s World Cup Finals squad.

During the 1998 World Cup Finals Beck scored a stunning freekick for England against Colombia and was hailed a national hero. He was later branded a villain, however, when he was sent off for a foul on Diego Simeone as England were knocked out in the second round by Argentina. That was the first red card of his career. The World Cup Finals left David at the bottom of his career. He was a hated man in England and many predicted the end of his football areer. He mustered up the courage and resilience to bounce back and prove his critcs wrong. In the first League game of the 1998/99 season against Leicester City, he curled in one of his trademark freekicks in stoppage time to prevent defeat.

If England’s 1998 World Cup campaign was the depth of dispair for Beckham, them Manchester United’s successful Trebble season in 1998/1999 was the height of ecstacy. The most important match of that season was the UEFA Champions League Finals with Bayern Munich. Manchester’s 2 goals were scored off corner kicks taken by David Beckham in overtime. The goals were scored by substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. England eventually forgave Beckham for his 1998 World Cup sins and readily accepted him as the captain of the national team.

Beckham captained England for the first time in a friendly match in Italy and retained the armband for the friendly with Spain and the World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Finland, against whom he scored an important goal at Anfield. He went on to lead to team to the 2002 World Cup Finals. In the game against Argentina, he scored the only goal – a penalty after Michaels Owens was tripped up. Argentina had a premature exit from the tournament after drawing 1-1 with Sweden in their next match.

The 2002/03 season was not a memorable one for Beckham as he found himself on the bench for some key matches. In a bizarre incident, he was struck on the forehead by a stray boot that was kicked in frustration by Sir Alex Ferguson in the dressing room. Rumors that he and the boss were not on speaking terms fueled the speculation that he would be sold at the end on the season. Unfortunately for many Manchester United fans, the rumors turned out to be true. David Beckham was sold to Real Madrid for £25 million. After more than 3 years at the Bernabeu, Beckham moved to the USA. David Beckham agreed to a £128million ($250 million) five-year deal with the LA Galaxy. Beckham already has a soccer academy in Los Angeles which shares a home with the Galaxy.

Checkout the ASCII Art of David Beckham in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

http://www.4shared.com/document/LfY_uVjW/David_Beckham_ASCII.html

RONALDO – THE BRAZILIAN STRIKER

YOUTH CAREER

Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima was born on September 22, 1976 in Bento Ribeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Born in a poor neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, he started playing soccer on the streets, with the rest of his neighborhood friends. At age 14, he decided it’s time for a little organization in his life as a soccer player, so he went on to train with the Social Ramos Youth Club for one year. His next youth team, Sao Cristovao is where Ronaldo made a name for himself, being spotted by Brazilian World Cup winner Jairzinho as a future talent.

Jairzinho, who played for Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, recommended the young Ronaldo to the club and they signed him when he was 18 years old. His first and only season as a professional soccer player in Brazil was extremely successful, as he scored 12 goals in 13 games, quickly attracting the eyes of Europe.

PSV EINDHOVEN

The first club to spot Ronaldo and make Cruzeiro an offer was Dutch PSV Eindhoven. Admittedly, not one of the mammoths of Europe in terms of soccer, but nevertheless a powerful club where a young player like Ronaldo could hone his skills and get some experience in Europe. His 2 seasons at PSV were extremely successful, scoring 42 goals in 46 matches at just 21 years of age. His performances could not remain unnoticed and FC Barcelona moved in with a heavy offer to take the Brazilian on.

FC BARCELONA and INTERNAZIONALE MILANO

His only season with Barcelona would be one of the best of his career, scoring 47 goals in 49 matches in all competitions for Barca and helping the Catalan club win the UEFA Cup Winners Cup (He actually scored the winning goal in the final) and the Spanish Cup. This great season confirmed him as an outstanding player and a goal scoring machine and Internazionale Milano moved in to take the Brazilian to Italy.During the 5 seasons in Milan’s shirt, he managed to score 50 times, but his efficiency was a lot lower than for PSV or FC Barcelona, due to several problems.

First of all, the tough defensive air of the Italian Serie A reduced his ability to use his lethal dribbles as often as he could at FC Barcelona or PSV.His personal issues with his girlfriends and wife, as well as a string of injuries also kept him from being as prolific as before. Nevertheless, he was loved at Inter and he helped the Italian club win the UEFA Cup in 1998, which is actually his only trophy with the club. In 1997 however, he became the European Footballer of the Year, European Golden Boot and after the UEFA Cup success, he was named UEFA’s MVP that season.Still, in 2002 after no league titles with Inter, it was time to move on and Real Madrid took him on to form the so called “Galacticos” team of super stars.

REAL MADRID

For Ronaldo, Real Madrid was angel and devil alike. Used to the Spanish league and escaping the Italian one’s defensive toughness, he regained his scoring pace and in his 5 seasons with Real, he scored no less than 127 goals in 83 league games.He helped Real Madrid win the league twice, in 2002-2003 and 2006-2007, as well as the European Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup in 2002. Although he played well for Madrid, his past with FC Barcelona, his numerous injuries and news of him partying before and after matches, created a gap between the Brazilian striker and his fans. He also gained a few pounds, which decreased his stamina, speed and agility attracting the anger of Real’s supporters, after a poor 2005-2006 season. Not finding his pace at Real Madrid anymore, he decided to move back to Milan, but this time for Inter’s arch-rivals, AC Milano.

Checkout the ASCII Art of Ronaldo in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

http://www.4shared.com/document/ryuKf6sC/Ronaldo_ASCII.html

RONALDINHO – THE LITTLE RONALDO

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira was born on the 21st of March, 1980 in Porto Alegre, capital of the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. He was the youngest of three children born to Joao de Assis Moreira, a shipyard worker and Miguelina, a salesperson who used to sell cosmetics before studying to be a nurse. He shares his birthday with the legendary Ayrton Senna, who dominated F-1 before his untimely death in the early 90’s. Joao once played for Cruzeiro, and he encouraged both his sons to take an active interest in the beautiful game.

Joao’s second son was given the name of Ronaldinho in order to differentiate between himself and Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, also better known to the world as Ronaldo. Ronaldo himself was known as Ronaldinho when Ronaldo Guiaro was called Ronaldo, and at that time Ronaldinho also had the word Gaucho attached to his name. Ronaldinho is Portuguese for ”little Ronaldo”. Roberto Assis, Ronaldinho’s elder brother was a pretty good footballer himself. He played for Gremio under Luiz Felipe Scolari before injuries forced him out of the game at an early age. With his father, who had died when Ronaldinho was 8, having been a supporter of Gremio as well, it was but natural that Ronaldinho joined the club. He starred in Brazil’s first ever win at the U-17 Championships, held in Egypt in 1997. Ronaldinho made his first senior appearance for Gremio at the Copa Libertadores in 1998.Ronaldinho’s greatest assets have been his ball control, agility and trickery. He can dribble and pass like few people can, and defenders can feel like utter fools when they are up against him. He slowly made a name for himself at Gremio, and was inducted into the Brazilian team in 1999. He made his international debut against Latvia in June 1999, and was part of the Brazilian team which won the Copa America in the same year. He scored one goal in Brazil’s 7-0 thrashing of Venezuela in the group stages. He won both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot at the 1999 Confederations Cup. He scored in every game Brazil played, and missed the final due to injury, where they lost to Mexico.

As the 21st century started, news of Ronaldinho’s abilities spread far and wide. Despite interest from England, he decided to move to France to join Paris St.Germain at the end of the 2001 season. He played alongside the likes of Jay Jay Okocha and Nicolas Anelka at PSG under manager Luis Fernandez. The 2002 World Cup firmly established Ronaldinho as a man destined for great things. His goal knocked England out at the quarterfinal stage – a freekick from the right which was completely misjudged by opposition goalkeeper David Seaman. Brazil went on to beat Germany in the final, and clubs started queueing up for the playmaker. With PSG not winning trophies in Europe, he had to make a move to further his career. Although Manchester United and FC Barcelona were both interested in his services, he transferred to the Catalans for a fee of £21 million.

The move to Barcelona was a very significant one in terms of the power shift in the world of football. Barcelona was in a mini crisis period, outshone domestically by bitter rivals Real Madrid. New president Joan Laporta had promised to bring in changes at the club, and the signing of Ronaldinho from PSG on a 5 year contract was one of those. Laporta had initially wanted to bring in David Beckham, who snubbed the Catalans and moved to the Bernabeu. He was another player in the list of famous R’s to play for Barcelona – Romario, Ronaldo and Rivaldo had also played before at the Nou Camp. The success of his childhood idols in Spain might have been one reason why he decided to join the club.Ronaldinho first played in a Barca jersey against AC Milan in America, scoring the second goal for the Catalans. He helped Barcelona to a second place in the league in the 2003-2004 season, despite being injured for most part of the first half.

Ronaldinho epitomises the way the beautiful game should be played. Along with Deco, Samuel Etoo, Ludovic Giuly and Lionel Messi, he transformed Barcelona into a supremely gifted attacking side.There is probably no limit to Ronaldinho’s skills. The ability to play comes to him naturally, and the ball looks alive when at his feet- something similar to magic for extremely gifted magicians, you could say. He virtually conjured a goal out of nowhere, toe punting the goal past a stunned Chelsea defence and Petr Cech in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. To toe punt is an extremely difficult thing to do, and requires extreme accuracy. It was therefore no surprise that when Ronaldinho made his move, the rest of the players just stood where they were and watched awestruck.

Barcelona won the La Liga twice in a row, in 2005 and 2006. They also won the Spanish cup in those two years, and also added the Champions League to their trophy cabinet by beating Arsenal in May 2006. Ronaldinho had a part in everything good that happened at the club. Although the 2006 World Cup campaign was a disappointment for him and the national side, there is no doubt that Ronaldinho will want to have another shot in the next edition to be held in South Africa. Good things, as they say, do not last. Somewhere down the line, the dream marriage between Barcelona and Ronaldinho started developing cracks. Ronaldinho was accused of not being fit, and indeed, when we saw him without his shirt at the end of a La Liga game, he was not certainly the lean athlete he had been earlier. Ronaldinho’s desire to enjoy Barcelona’s night life was not appreciated by Frank Riijkard, and his form started dipping. Barcelona lost out on the 2006-07 and 2007-08 La Liga titles to bitter rivals Real Madrid. The 2007-08 season saw Ronaldinho troubled by injuries, and for the first time in December 2007, against Espanyol, he did not start despite being fully fit.

From winning the FIFA World Player twice, Ronaldinho had to be content with a fifth placed finish in 2007. He was not called up for for the 2007 Copa America by new coach Dunga, which Brazil won by beating Argentina.In April 2008, Ronaldinho tore a muscle in his right leg and missed the rest of Barcelona’s season, including their Champions League semifinal against Manchester United. Rumours flew thick and fast about his future, and Manchester City, Inter Milan and A.C.Milan were among the clubs interested. He was eventually sold to AC Milan for 21 million euros, and took the No.80 jersey as Clarence Seedorf already had the No.10 jersey at the San Siro.He has shown glimpses of his former abilities at Milan, and scored his first goal for the Rossoneri in the city derby against Inter in September 2008.

Apart from his individual abilities, his mere presence on the field instills a new level of confidence in his teammates, and the opposition mentally loses the game even before it has started. It is amazing what one man can do, and words are not enough to describe the man that Ronnie is. He is part of Pele’s list of ”125 Greatest living footballers”. In a survey conducted by a Brazilian magazine, he was also inducted into the Gremio all time favourite team. Ronaldinho has a son Joao, named after his late father. The boy’s mother is Janaina Mendes.

With his trademark grin and supreme control with the ball, Ronaldinho is easily one of the biggest brands in the footballing world today. He graced the covers of EA Sports’ FIFA 2007. Some have even gone on to call him the best player in history, but the man himself shrugs off such comparisons. Modesty is a virtue rarely seen in a man of such ability, and Ronaldinho possesses tons of that quality. He sometimes gives the impression of being in another world altogether with the football – on another plane if I should say, but is still very down to earth. One thing is pretty sure – he will be a legend when he leaves the game.

Checkout the ASCII Art of Ronaldinho in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

http://www.4shared.com/document/vE3jjtCT/Ronaldinho_ASCII.html

KAKA – THE BRAZILIAN MIDFIELDER

Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (born April 22, 1982 in Brasília, Brazil), simply known as Kaká, is a Brazilian footballer who plays as a midfielder for Brazil and the Serie A club A.C. Milan. He is one of the budding young stars in world football.

FAMILY

Kaká’s younger brother Rodrigo Izecson Dos Santos Leite, known as Digão, followed in his brother’s footsteps and is currently on loan with Serie B team Rimini, after having spent some time in the AC Milan youth squad.

NICKNAME

The nickname Kaká, from his native Portuguese, is pronounced as it is spelt. The accent would signify that the stress is on the second syllable. In Italian, the language of his current team, the phonetic equivalent is written as Kakà, which is used for Italian television graphics. However, the player’s shirt name is spelt KAKA’ (with an apostrophe, rather than an accented ‘A’) for both Brazil and Milan.  An internet discussion forum explains the nickname as a commonly used shortened form of “Ricardo” in Portuguese. Kaká is supposed to have got his nickname because his little brother Rodrigo could not pronounce the word “Ricardo” when they were young. Rodrigo called his older brother “Caca\ Kaká suffered an accident when he made a faulty jump off a diving-board, resulting in a vertebra fracture. This could have meant the end of his football career, but he believes that Jesus allowed him to recover and become the successful footballer he is now. When AC Milan won the Serie A title in 2004, Ricky, as he is called by his team-mates, sported a shirt with an “I Belong to Jesus” slogan. He also points his fingers to the sky as a sign of thanks every time he scores, for apparently the same reason.

MARRIAGE

Kaká married Caroline Celico on 23 December 2005 at the evangelical Reborn in Christ Church in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in a wedding attended by fellow players from his national team, as well as other well known international players. Guests included Ronaldo, Adriano, Cafu, Dida, Julio Baptista and Brazilian national coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. Caroline and Kaká first met in 2002, and started dating soon after. The relationship survived Kaká’s move from Sao Paulo to Italy in 2003, while Caroline was still at school. It is likely that Caroline will stay in Brazil in the short-run, but the couple plan to live together in Italy very soon.

Checkout the ASCII Art of Kaka in the below link. Please use Lucida Console font to view the art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

http://www.4shared.com/document/dvygl67D/Kaka_ASCII.html