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British-Jamaican Marilyn Neufville: Youthfullness, Sprint World Records, Controversy, and Injuries

Introduction

As an elite black Jamaican athlete in the United Kingdom during the tumultuous years of racism and black power movements during the 1960’s and 1970’s, controversy would swirl around slender Marilyn Fay Neufville.

A south London resident who had migrated from Jamaica when she was eight years old, and even competed for Britain internationally, she had “defied British officials and missed a meet against East Germany in order to train with the Jamaican team” (Associated Press: 1970). Neufville had ran for the Cambridge Harriers of southeast London during her teens after she had arrived in Britain in 1961 when she was 8 years old. Four months before the summer Commonwealth Games of 1970, Neufville had represented Britain and won the 400m title for Britain. She was born in Hectors River in Portland (Jamaica) on November 16th 1952. She started as a short-distance sprinter, and it was at the end of 1969, that she started concentrating on the 400m.

1967

Neufville first became significantly recognized at national level when in 1967 she won two Amateur Athletic Association of England sprint titles in the under-15 group: the 100 and 150 yards (in 17.3 seconds).

1968

Again as a junior, in 1968, she won in the 220 yards in the Amateur Athletic Association under-17 group in 23.9 seconds–a new national record in this category. The Amateur Athletic Association, reputably the oldest athletics’ national governing body in the world, was established in April 1880. The championships are regarded as the British National Championships, though they have been open to foreign competitors.

1969

As an intermediate (under-17), Neufville won the English Schools Championships title in the 150 yards, improving her personal best to 16.6 seconds in Shrewsbury. She would progress to the women’s Amateur Athletic Association championships in 1969 and was just beaten into second place (24.3) by 28 year-old legendary Dorothy Hyman (23.7) in the 200m; Val Peat, the previous champion, won the bronze medal (24.3). Hyman, a multiple medallist at the European Games, Commonwealth Games, and the Olympics is regarded as Britain’s greatest sprinter.

During 1969, 16 year-old Neufville was ranked 27th in the 400m in the world, courtesy of her personal best (54.2) executed in London on October 9th. Earlier, on August 23rd 1969, running for the track team Cambridge Harriers, Neufville ran a 54.4 in the 400m which time still places her among the top ten British youngsters among the under-17 group. In September, Neufville was part of the winning 4x400m relay team that won in the track meet versus West Germany in Hamburg. Also on September 6th 1969, she won the 300m in London, in 38.3 seconds. This time is still listed as among the best among United Kingdom youngsters under 17 years of age.

1970 and the Commonwealth of Nations’ Games in Edinburgh

As a British runner, Marilyn’s personal outdoor best in the 400m would become 52.6 achieved when she won The Internationales Stadionfest 400m title in 1970. Here, in Berlin, she smashed the British record. The silver and bronze medallists were West Germans Christel Frese (54.3) and Inge Eckhoff (54.5). Neufville’s personal best indoors was her 53.01 world record breaking and winning performance that is mentioned below.

At the 1970 European Athletics Indoor Championships held in Vienna (March 14th to 15th), Neufville, representing Great Britain, won impressively in the 400m (53.01). This, established on March 14th, was a new indoor world record; a timing more than a second below her previous personal best (54.2). The silver medallist was Christel Frese of West Germany (53.1), followed by the previous (1968) Olympic gold medallist Colette Besson of France (53.6). The indoor record would be reduced by Nadezhda Ilyina (Nadezhda Kolesnikova-Ilyina) of the Soviet Union, in 1974.

On May 17th 1970, Neufville participated in the Britain vs. Netherlands Women’s meet in Sparta Stadium. In the 200 meters W. Van den Berg of the Netherlands won (23.7), Neufville was second (23.8), and M. Cobb also of Britain was third (24.1). As for the 4x400m relay, Marilyn ran the last leg flawlessly with ease, and the British (3:45.1) beat Netherlands (3:50.8).

Also early in 1970, Neufville won the 400m title in the British Amateur Athletic Association indoor championships in 54.9 seconds, establishing a new national record. Jannette Champion (56.5) was second, and Avril Beattie (57.1) won the bronze medal. Neufville would participate in the same championships during the next year 1971, but this time representing Jamaica. This time the winner was Champion (now Jannette Roscoe) in 56.1, Marilyn was second (57.3), and Maureen Tranter of Britain (57.5) was third.

Still in 1970, Marilyn Fay was a notable fixture at the South of England Championships that were held in London. Here, she won the 200m and 400m in 23.9 and 52.0 seconds, respectively–both new records in the annual event. She would return to the Championships the next year 1971 as a Jamaican, and would retain the 200m title, winning in 24.2 again in London.

On July 23rd at the Commonwealth Games, the 17 year-old long-legged and slim Neufville established a new 400m world record of 51.02, and then the next day at a press conference refused to comment on the accomplishment in which she had just lowered the record, that had been jointly held by the French women Colette Besson and Nicole Duclos (set in Athens in 1969), by a massive seven-tenths of a second. The 51.02 would endure as Neufville’s personal best. Neufville had won by a full twenty seconds ahead of the runner-up Sandra Brown of Australia (53.66), in a time one second faster than she had ever ran in the event! The performance was the day’s highlight at the Commonwealth Games. Judith Ayaa of Uganda was third (53.77).

On July 24th, “at a bizarre news conference,” Neufville, “… sat with her Jamaican team manager, Norman Hill… and just silently shook her head at every question” (Associated Press: 1970). In the extraordinary scene, Hill had brought her into the room that was lined with forty newsmen and ushered her into the reserved seat of honor, and then declared that she was not going to answer to any questions and comments. As for her silent passive response, the manager Hill explained that Neufville was warily tense about uttering anything that would possibly jeopardize her future in athletics. Indeed she had ran for Jamaica, though she had formerly ran for Britain to which she was tied under the international rules of athletics.

Would Neufville be in trouble with the British Amateur Athletic Association for which she had competed in world events? She had been allowed by the Association to tour Europe with the Jamaican team, as long as she would return and be part of Britain’s team to be pitted against East Germany. Neufville defiantly stayed with Jamaicans, she did not show up for the European track meet executed two weeks earlier. Hill was even evasive in replying about whether Marilyn Fay, in maintaining silence, was protesting British officials’ attitude. Marilyn would later compete in the 4x100m relay: the Jamaican team finished fifth.

Though the Commonwealth Games were held in Edinburgh, right in the United Kingdom, “Neufville was not jeered or beaten, though her preference for representing Jamaica while she was a resident in London angered many, especially as many [blacks] sought… British [sports] titles but were prevented from doing so by a rule that specified that a… contestant ‘has been resident in the United Kingdom for a period of not less than ten years'” (Cashmore 2010: 242).

It would take two years for Marilyn’s world record to be equaled–Monica Zehrt of GDR on July 4th 1972 in Paris. It would be nearly exactly four years later (July 22nd 1974 in Warsaw) that superwoman Irena Szewinska of Poland broke Neufville’s world record, down by more than a second (49.9) and the first ever below 50 seconds.

Near the end of July 1970, about a month after her Commonwealth triumph in Edinburgh, British track officials convinced that she was bent on competing for Jamaica, declared that they would not include Neufville on the British team that would soon participate in the European Cup competition. They would not object to Neufville’s defection to Jamaica, but would defer the matter to the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) for approval. Neufville even nursed the option of studying at an American college. After he Commonwealth performance, there was jubilation in Jamaica, she was officially congratulated by Prime Minister Hugh Shearer and also accorded a civic reception in her home parish Portland on the north coast of Jamaica. Neufville left Jamaica for London in late August, only days before her athletics’ national affiliation and situation would be decided by the International Amateur Athletic Commission in Stockholm. It would be decided that international athletes could henceforth be able to switch from one country after one year after competing, instead of every three years.

1971

In Toronto, on February 5th 1971, Neufville won in the 300 yards (35.7).

At the 1971 Central American and Caribbean Championships held during mid-July in Kingston, Marilyn Fay won in the 400m and established a course record (53.5). She was followed by Carmen Trustee of Cuba (54.0) and the bronze was captured by Yvonne Saunders of Jamaica (54.3). Neufville was also part of the Jamaica 4x400m relay team that won the silver medal (3:41.0), behind gold medallists Cuba (3:38.6, a new course record), and ahead of bronze medallists Trinidad and Tobago (4:03.2).

Only weeks later, on August 3rd, Neufville won a gold medal at the 1971 sixth Pan-African Games (held from late July to early August in Cali in Colombia) in the 400m–the first time the event was contested at these Games. Her winning time was 52.34 (51.34?), and the team-mate Yvonne Saunders was third (53.13). The two were also part of the Jamaica 4x400m relay team that also included Ruth Williams and Beverly Franklin and won the bronze medal (3:34.05). Jamaica was beaten by the United States (3:32.45) and silver medallists Cuba (3:34.04). Fay’s 400m performance in Cali was her personal best of 1971, and the second best in world annual ranking. Here in Cali, Carmen Trustee of Cuba finished second (52.8).

Neufville left Britain for Jamaica in July 1971, amidst the storm of controversy in which she claimed she had been mistreated and that she would therefore continue to run for Jamaica. She denied that she was leaving London because of racial prejudice. It was argued that under International Amateur Athletic Federation rules, Marilyn Fay would be eligible to compete for Jamaica in the forthcoming Olympics, but that she would not be eligible to under the International Olympics Committee rules.

From September 1971, she lived near Los Angeles with multi-world record-holder Chi Cheng (Chi Cheng Reel) of Taiwan and her husband and coach Vince Reel who also coached Neufville and was the coach at Claremont College.

1972 and the Olympics in Munich

The ninth annual Albuquerque Jaycees Invitational track meet was held in the middle of July 1972. Here Carol Hudson, a native of Albuquerque, ably beat Marilyn Fay and also Karin Lundgren of Sweden in 600 yard run. Hudson’s performance was new American record (1:21.8)

On January 24th 1972, Neufville competed in an indoor track meet in Los Angeles, in the 600 yards. Unfortunately, she fell near the end of the race. She was visibly in great as she was helped up. With a severed tendon, she became scheduled to undergo an operation at Glendale Community Hospital. The officials were pessimistic about her chances at recovering quickly enough to compete in the forthcoming summer Olympics in Munich. The track doctor Jerome Bornstein said that it would depend on how significant the tear was. He said that if the tendon was badly severed, it would incapacitate Neufville for at least six months–a condition that would spoil her regimen of adequately building up for the Olympics.

She was helped to foot her medical bill: “World record holder Marilyn Neufville became the first claimant to receive payment for expenses caused by athletic injury under the Amateur Athletic Union’s optional athlete’s insurance program, which went into effect January 1… a total of $1000 has been sent to Ms. Neufville and Glendale Community Hospital… ” (Amateur Athletic Union of the United States 1972: 9).

It became doubtful that Neufville would participate in the Wills-Qantas Olympic fund-raising meetings that were scheduled for mid-March in Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne. She was to have been a feature attraction at the meets.

In the middle of July 1972, Neufville was listed in the 27-member track and field team that would represent Jamaica at the Olympics. There were still hopes that she would recover from the snapped Achilles tendon that had disabled her from competing since the fall in January. In the second week of August, it was declared that Marilyn Faye had not sufficiently recovered and so would not compete at the Olympics.

Monica Zehrt of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) had equaled the world record held by Neufville. The latter was injured and unable to compete at the Olympics in Munich in 1972, but 19 year-old Zehrt, “[seemingly] unaffected by the pressure of her opponents or by her role as favorite” (Wallechinsky 2000: 206), went on to win the gold in the event, setting a new Olympic record (51.08).

1973

In the middle of January 1973, in Winnipeg, 18 year-old Joanne McTaggert of Canada won in the 300m (40.2) in the first time she had competed in the distance. She beat the big names Yvonne Saunders, Kathy Hammond, and Neufville.

At the Sunkist International Invitational Indoor Track Meet in Los Angeles, Neufville and Chi Cheng Reel, running for the Los Angeles Track Club, were part of the sprint relay that won in 1:14.3.

At the end of January 1973 Neufville, again representing the Los Angeles Track Club in the Albuquerque Invitational Track and Field meet, won the 300 yard dash in 35.4 seconds.

On February 23rd 1973, the United States Indoor National Championships were held in Madison Square Garden in New York. Neufville, representing the Los Angeles Track Club, finished third in the 440 yards (56.2), behind Brenda Walsh of Canada (55.5), and Kathy Hammond of the Sacramento Road Runners (55.7).

In the first week of June, Neufville set a Kennedy Games record of 55.1, in winning.

Near the end of June 1973, at the Women’s Amateur Athletic Union meet held in Irvine in California, Neufville was beaten into second place in the 440 yards. She was second (54.5) and the winner was Olympian Mable Fergerson (54.1).

The Pacific International Games were held early in July 1973. in Victoria in Canada. The winner in the 400m was Charlene Rendina of Australia (52.4). Neufville disappointingly finished sixth.

On July 19th 1973, Neufville together with the other Jamaican world record hold Donald Quarrie were included on the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association’s team scheduled to participate in the Central American and Caribbean Athletic Championships to be held during July 26th to 29th in Maracaibo in Venezuela. Injuries prevented Neufville from competing.

1974 and the Commonwealth of Nations’ Games in Christchurch

Marilyn Fay at 21, would travel to Christchurch in New Zealand to represent Jamaica at the Commonwealth of Nations’ Games in 1974. The injuries plagued her and she would only afford a sixth place finishing in the 400m (54.04). The gold medallist was her former team-mate Yvonne Saunders (51.67) who had become a naturalized Canadian, followed by Verona Bernard (51.94), and bronze medallist Charlene Rendina of Australia (52.08).

1975

As a University of California at Berkeley student, Neufville finished fourth in the 800 yards, in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Outdoor Championships.

1976 and the Olympics in Montreal

On July 25th 1976, 23 year-old Neufville competed for Jamaica in the 400m at the Olympics in Montreal. Here, in the third of the six heats of the first round and running in lane 3, she finished fourth (52.93) behind Ellen Strophal-Streidt of East Germany (52.56), Christiane Casapicola-Wildschek of Austria (52.65). and Judy Canty of Australia (52.88). Though Marilyn Fay qualified for the next round (quarter-finals) to take place in the evening, this would be the first and end of her Olympic presence as injuries discouraged her from competing any further. Still, the 52.93 was her personal best for 1976. This timing is the fourth personal best all-time performance among the 400m University of California at Berkeley (California Bears) women track stars. The time is also the oldest only 1970’s personal best timing that is among the top ten best in the quarter-mile sprint. The best California Bears’ personal bests were established by Latasha Gilliam (52.53, 1996), Alima Kamara (52.75, 2010), and Marian Franklin (52.90, 1980).

As a student competing for University of California at Berkeley, Neufville’s collegiate personal best was 54.08, also established in 1976. This timing is listed seventh among University of Califoria at Berkeley performances, behind Latasha Gilliam, Marian Franklin, Kim White, Chantal Reynolds, Connie Culbert, and Kelia Bolton. Marilyn attended the University of California at Berkeley between 1972 and 1983.

In Montreal in the Olympic finals of the 400m, 30 year-old Irena Szewinska-Kirszenstein of Poland, also an outstanding short-sprinter and long jumper as well as multiple Olympic gold medallist, established a world record (49.28), ten meters ahead of runner-up 18 year-old Christina Brehmer of East Germany (50.51), and 23 year-old Ellen Strophal-Streidt also of German Democratic Republic (50.55). In 1974, Irena Szewinska-Kirszenstein had become the first woman to officially run the distance in less than 50 seconds.

The Aftermath

Marilyn Neufville has for many years been employed as a social worker both in the United States and the United Kingdom. She has worked at Local Authority Social Services in London, in a mental health care division. In March 2013, 60 year-old Neufville filled a claim over unfair dismissal in 2010 by the Richmond Council in London (Bishop: 2013). Accused of mishandling a case that involved domestic violence, she had been fired.

In the United States, Neufville lived and worked in and around Haviland and Halstead in Kansas, Martinsville in Virginia, and in Ballwin and St. Charles in Missouri. She lived in Oakland while attending University of California at Berkeley. She was also affiliated with Tilastopaja Oy Athletics, St. Columbas School in Kilmacolm (Scotland), and the South England Athletic Association. After he win at the Commonwealth Games, national stamps with her image were issued.

Jamaica women’s 400m record, established by Lorraine Fenton on July 19th 2002 in Monaco, is now 49.30. Neufville is still the only Jamaican woman to have ever held a world record in outdoor athletics. From 1978 to 1982, Marita Koch of East Germany lowered the 400m world record six times, from 49.19 to 48.16 in Europe. Her dominance was interrupted by Jarmila Kratochvílová of Czechoslovakia who in August 1983, lowered it to 47.99 in Helsinki. At 1:53.28, Jarmila Kratochvílová still holds the 800m world record that was also established in 1983. The 400m world record (47.60) was re-established by Marita Koch in October 1985 in Canberra.

Neufville was officially listed as 5’5″ and 125 pounds. She did not have the commonly significant build of a sprinter, and her thinness made her prone to injuries. As a result she was unable to perform at many international competitions and her performance deteriorated. But she was perhaps Britain’s first elite black athlete.

Works Cited

Associated Press: “‘M’ Student Takes First,” (July 24, 1970) in “Michigan Daily.”

Amateur Athletic Union of the United States: Amateur Athletic Union News Volumes 43-46, 1972.

Bishop, Rachel. “Social worker claims unfair dismissal from Richmond Council,” (March 1, 2013) in “Richmond & Twickenham Times.”

Cashmore, Ellis. Making Sense of Sports. London: Routledge, 2010.

Wallechinsky, David. The Complete Book of the Olympics. London: Aurum Press, 2000.

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FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa – Scaffold and Formwork Contractors

The FIFA World Cup 2010 Football Tournament (Soccer World Cup to South Africans) is a mere 20 months away and South Africa is truly abuzz with preparations. There is an enormous amount of pressure on South Africa to execute a successful and memorable tournament and work has begun in full force to ensure that the tournament is fault-free.

Construction and Scaffolding is Key

The construction sector is booming and reaping the benefits of these preparations as stadiums are built along with new roads and freeways. Buildings, suburbs and districts are being renovated to create an attractive, first-world image of South Africa to visiting foreigners and television audiences from around the world.

Scaffolding is imperative to the preparatory processes as scaffolding is required for not only various formwork and construction projects, but also to provide safe and easy access for renovations and restorations.

Roads

The influx of people into South Africa for the World Cup, and especially into the main cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, requires that many infrastructure upgrades be made in these cities. The Department of Transport has been given a budget of R92-billion to bring the standard of the roads up to a level where they can cope with the enormous influx of traffic.

In Cape Town, the freeway system has always been relatively small and unable to cope with the volume of everyday traffic in and out of town. Roads are being widened to cope with the increased traffic that 2010 will bring. Many other cities are expanding their road infrastructure and repairing problems such as potholes. Scaffolding is used to build these new roads and complete the necessary formwork for the new infrastructure.

Buildings and Structures

In 2010 host cities, hotels are being built, old buildings are being restored to their former attractiveness and ‘bad’ areas are being cleaned up. The older buildings that are being restored are a mixture of high-rise blocks and smaller structures and scaffolding is needed to complete all of these adjustments and new structures.

Scaffolding is needed in the restoration process to allow workers access to high and difficult places to reach, whilst maintaining the safety of the workmen and bystanders.

Airports

One of the major construction projects taking place to accommodate the World Cup in 2010 is the expansion of South Africa’s main airports. Over R5.2-billion has been invested in developing South Africa’s airports to world-class standards. Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg have seen the majority of expansions, especially Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport which has benefitted from a R1.6-billion investment to develop the central terminal.

The terminal is linked to the Gautrain, a high speed train which will travel from OR Tambo Airport to Johannesburg.

Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg airports have had their existing parking facilities upgraded to large, multi-story parkades to allow sufficient parking for the influx of visitors. R132-million has been budgeted for refurbishments at national airports which will provide temporary facilities during the tournament.

Stadiums

There are five stadiums which are being constructed from new, adding to the stadiums already existing in South Africa. Green Point Stadium in the Western Cape (the previous Green Point Stadium was demolished in 2007), the Peter Mokaba Sports Complex, the Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth and the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban are under construction currently to be finished for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The FNB Stadium, Ellis Park in Johannesburg and Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane, along with the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in North West and Vodacom Park in Mangaung (Bloemfontein) are in the process of being upgraded to increase capacity and improve facilities.

These stadiums require enormous engineering feats and advanced use of scaffolding and formwork to ensure that the structures are completed on time and in good quality to achieve the maximum success for South Africa in hosting the tournament.

The FIFA World Cup is the most watched sporting event in the world. All eyes will be on South Africa to perform not only on the field, but also as a host country. With current construction underway, scaffolding is helping engineers and contractors to achieve top results in less time, with less man power but with the maximum safety available.

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Pele Is The Greatest Soccer Player Of All Time

With another world cup looming on the horizon the debate as to who is the greatest soccer player of all time has heated up again.

Each generation has had its own “great”, so we had Puskas (Hungary) in the 1950’s, Pele (Brazil) in the 1960’s, Maradona (Argentina) in the 1980’s and now we have Messi (Argentina).

In my opinion, the debate so far has failed to focus on one important factor which is that in deciding who is the greatest it is not sufficient to look at who could play the game well but you also have to look at what they achieved. The measure of greatness is not only how you play but largely what you achieve. Lots of players were excellent but never achieved anything or set any records.

Comparing players with each other is largely a matter of opinion which is always open to argument and counter-argument. Also, opinions are always laced with speculation and value-judgments and each generation claims ownership of the greatest.

On the other hand, the question of achievements and records are a matter of fact and is not open to argument or contradiction. You are entitled to your opinion but not your own facts. It is from these facts that one can decide who is the greatest.

For the purpose of the ‘who is the greatest?’ debate it is necessary to look at players across generation lines and match up their achievements against each other and compare them.

PELE

When you look at the record of achievements of one player, he will never be equaled and all great soccer players are measured against the Brazilian who once made the world stop to watch his mesmerizing play.

His name is Edison Arantes do Nascimento (Pele). He was born in 1940 in Tres Coracoes, Minas Gerais, Brazil. He grew up in poverty and could not afford a soccer ball so he would use a sock stuffed with newspaper and tied with a string or grapefruit to practice his skills (Pele Biography -Soccer Maniak, by Armin Serdarevic).

A look at Pele’s remarkable record of achievements will not end the debate about the greatest but should leave no doubt that Pele’s status as the King of soccer is unchallenged.

In (Pele Biography etc.), his records are first highlighted and then his domestic and international achievements are listed as follows:-

PELE’S ACHIEVEMENTS

1. Pele scored his first international goal in his first match against Argentina at the Maracana stadium on July 7, 1957 at the age of 16 to become the youngest player to score in international soccer.

2. In his first World Cup game against the USSR in 1958 he became the youngest player to play in the World Cup at 17 and with his goal against Wales the youngest player to score a goal during a World Cup.

3. In the semi-final against France in 1958 he became the youngest player to score a hat-trick (3 goals in one match) and the youngest player to play in the World Cup final match.

4. In the final he scored 2 goals, one of which was selected as one of the best goals in the history of the World Cup. He lobbed the ball over the defender and then followed up with a volley shot and the ball ended up in the back of the net.

5. He finished the tournament tied for second place in most goals scored (6) in 4 matches and was named young player of the tournament. He won the Silver Ball as the second best player behind Didi (another Brazilian).

6. In the 1970 World Cup he was named Player of the tournament.

7. Pele is considered by FIFA as the most prolific scorer in history with 1281 goals in 1363 matches in all competitions.

8. He scored in two different World Cup finals.

9. After the 1958 World Cup he was declared by the Brazilian government an “official national treasure” to ward off offers from European clubs and prevent him from being transferred out of the country.

10. Which other player could cause the Nigerian Civil War in 1967 to be put on a 48 hour ceasefire so that they could watch him play an exhibition game in Lagos?

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENTS

1) Achievements with Santos- Copa Libertadores (twice), Campeonato Paulista (10 times), Taça Brazil (5 times), Torneio Roberto Gomes Pedrosa (once), Torneio Rio-São Paulo ( 4 times), Intercontinental Cup (twice) and Recopa Intercontinental: (once).

2) Achievements with New York Cosmos- North American Soccer League, Soccer Bowl (once).

INTERNATIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS WITH BRAZIL

• Roca Cup- (twice) and FIFA World Cup (three times).

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENTS

1) Santos – Copa Libertadores top scorer: (once) and Campeonato Paulista top scorer: (11 times).

2) Brazil National Team:-

• Copa América top scorer: 1959;

• BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Winner: 1970;

• FIFA World Cup (Best Young Player) Winner: 1958-;

• FIFA World Cup Silver Boot: 1958;

• FIFA World Cup Silver Ball: 1958;

• FIFA World Cup Golden Ball (Best Player) Winner: 1970;

• Athlete of the Century, elected by world wide journalists, poll by French daily L’Equipe: 1981;

• South American Footballer of the Year: 1973;

• Inducted into the American National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1993;

• Knight Commander of the British Empire: 1997;

• In 1989 DPR Korea issued a postage stamp depicting Pelé;

• Athlete of the Century, by Reuters News Agency: 1999;

• Athlete of the Century, elected by International Olympic Committee: 1999;

• UNICEF Football Player of the Century: 1999;

• TIME One of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century: 1999;

• FIFA Player of the Century: 2000 (shared with Maradona);

• Football Player of the Century, elected by France Football’s Golden Ball Winners: 1999;

• Football Player of the Century, by IFFHS International Federation of Football History and Statistics: 1999;

• South America Football Player of the Century, by IFFHS International Federation of Football History and Statistics: 1999;

• Laureus World Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement Award from South African President Nelson Mandela: 2000.

It was not always plain sailing for Pele. He missed most of the 1962 World Cup through injury. And being the best player in the world was not without its risks.

In the1966 World Cup in England, with Brazil poised to win their third consecutive World Cup including their second on European soil, Pele’s pre-eminence in world soccer did not go unnoticed. To his opponents he had to be stopped even by foul means and so he was at the end of some of the most brutal tackles ever seen in the World Cup by Bulgaria and Portugal. He got no protection from the referees and no one was red-carded for hacking him down.

But the objective was achieved as Pele missed most of Brazil’s matches and Brazil got eliminated early. After the tournament Pele said that he would never play in the World Cup again.

He did play again and eventually retired in 1977 and since then he has been a worldwide ambassador for soccer and a leading contributor to charity all over the world.

In order to put Pele’s playing career (1956-1977) in its proper perspective it is useful to match it against the achievements of his two main rivals for greatest player, Maradona (1976-1997) and Messi (2004-present) and compare the results.

Sportsmail gathered the facts and put them together a 3 way comparison (see Mail Online- Magic Messi stakes his claim to be the greatest ever but is he better than Pele and Maradona? by Gerard Brand, March 13, 2013).

THE ULTIMATE COMPARISON: MESSI, MARADONA AND PELE

The results were:-

1. Pele romps both in average goals per game (0.94) to Messi (0.69) and Maradona (0.52).

2. As regards international caps (goals), Pele 92 (77) has more than twice Maradona’s goals in almost the same amount of games 91 (34) while Messi 77 (31) fares better than his compatriot but is a long way behind Pele.

3. Pele has 12 World Cup goals in 14 games while Maradona only has 8 goals in much more games (21) with Messi is far behind with only 1 goal in 8 games.

4. Messi has the same amount of major honors (10) as Pele but Pele has three World Cups and Messi has none. Maradona has the least amount of major honors (6) but has one World Cup.

Messi is only twenty five and still playing and the question is whether he will ever be able to beat Pele’s records. The answer seems to be no. Even if he catches Pele’s international goals it will take him much more games and his chances of winning three World Cups trophies are nil since they are only played every four years.

Like every other sport, the circumstances and conditions of soccer have improved from generation to generation. For example, today’s players wear lighter boots, are better trained and have better diets. But despite these improvements, no one has been able to match let alone surpass Pele’s record of achievements which testifies to the enormity of his success.

It is for this reason that I think Pele is the greatest of all time.

Victor A. Dixon

October 6, 2013

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