The pristine white shirts of Santos will forever be associated with one player – Pele. But the great man was by no means the only Brazilian star to have sprung from this remarkable club. In the 1960s Santos were almost a feeder club for the Brazilian national side – at one stage eight of the Seleçao's starting XI plied their trade for Santos in Sao Paulo state.
A small port city on the Atlantic Ocean, Santos has a population of less than half-a-million people, but while its catchment area may be dwarfed by that of the Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro clubs, Peixe (their nickname, meaning 'fish') have continually got the better of their bigger rivals over the years. They won the Brazilian championship five years in a row between 1961 and 1965 – a record no team has ever matched and were the first club in the world to reach the incredible 10,000-goal mark.
No club side better characterized the samba football of the Brazilian national team than Santos in their heyday. It was in 1955 that their golden period began. Santos won their second championship in their history and the following year took a chance on a 15-year-old local boy, called Pelé. With the exception of a brief period in the United States, he would never play for another club. Along with other talents like Coutinho and Pepe, the young striker lit up the Brazilian and the world stage with Santos.
Along with their national championships that side won two Copa Libertadores and two Intercontinental Cups. The latter victories gave them the chance to showcase their amazing talents to a worldwide audience and it brought them a legion of fans all over the globe. Supporters were dazzled by the speed and elegance of their play and their free-scoring forwards. Pele left the club in 1974, having scored over 1,000 goals for the club and the national team in his 17 years with his local side.
Since then Santos have proved time and again that their golden era was no fluke. To this day they continue to unearth and nurture some of the greatest footballers on the planet. In recent years superstars like Robinho, Diego and Alex have risen to prominence on the world stage - all of them started their careers at Santos. Sadly it is inevitable these players leave for the big money of the European leagues but Santos somehow manage to replace them with the stars of the future.