World Cup icons: 17-year-old Pele makes Brazil's own psychologist look silly (1958)

Pepe 1958

“Pele is obviously infantile. He lacks the necessary fighting spirit.” That was Brazil team psychologist Joao Carvalhaes’s stark verdict on the 17-year-old striker who, averaging a goal a game in his first full season at Santos, had forced his way onto the fringes of the Seleção's 1958 World Cup squad.

The verdict must have shaken Pele who was, in his own words, just a “skinny little black boy”, rigorously applying boiling hot towels to his injured right knee as he struggled to get fit. All his hopes now rested on coach Vicente Feola. Would he dare defy the psychologist?

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