A year after winning the World Cup Pelé had to serve a year’s national service with the Brazilian army. He might have been a national hero, but there was no way of getting out of it. He was stationed with the motorised coast artillery in Santos and, unsurprisingly, picked for the army’s football team. Pelé led this side to the 1959 South American Military Championship, scoring 14 goals in ten games. As well as the army side and the barracks team, Pelé continued to play for Santos and Brazil, and also the All-Star Sao Paulo side, which meant he played an incredible 103 games while doing his national service.
Even whilst serving with the military Pelé’s rise to greatness was unstoppable as he combined his football career with his national service.