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To celebrate Pele’s birthday, let’s go to the film ...

International Soccer - Italy v Brazil - World Cup Final, Mexico City, Mexico

Pele won three World Cups with Brazil during their golden era.

Sven Simon

How can you pick a true Top 20 from among more than 1,000 career goals? I’m not sure … but let’s not bog down in details here.

Nor with concerns over rights fees, either, I suppose.

Let’s just enjoy.

Someone put together their version of Pele’s Top 20 goals. The occasion is the man’s 72nd birthday. So, happy birthday to the Brazilian scoring king, with 1,281 goals to his credit. (Not to mention three World Cup crowns.)

I can’t say for sure that these are anything close to his 20 best. Seeing as so many were scored in Brazilian league play in the 1960s (there were some before and after, of course, but the bulk are somewhere in that psychedelic era), I would be willing to bet a signed, game-worn Cosmos 1977 jersey that Pele scored some real doozies that did not find their way to this YouTube reel.

But what I do know: Just watching these 20, it’s impossible not to recognize the ball control that seems almost cartoon-like in its quality, the unbelievable balance and the madly effective acceleration.

No, defenses and individual defending were not as good in his era. But neither were the fields, nor the balls they were playing with. The shoes, either, for that matter. So, all that becomes a wash in my book when debates commence about the relative merits of athletes from different eras.

The man was absolute greatness. Just see for yourself.

And if you see the King of Football today, with him a happy B-Day, would ya?