Full name Edison Arantes do Nascimento
Date of birth 21 or 23 October 1940 (1940-10-23) (age 70)
Place of birth Três Corações, Brazil
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Playing position Forward
Years Team Apps† (Gls)†
1956–1974 Santos 605 (730)
1975–1977 New York Cosmos 64 (37)
Total 669 (737)
1957–1971 Brazil 92 (77)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Edison "Edson" Arantes do Nascimento KBE , best known by his nickname Pelé , is a retired Brazilian footballer. He is widely regarded among many football fans and historians to be the greatest footballer of all time. In 1999, he was voted as the Football Player of the Century by the IFFHS International Federation of Football History and Statistics. In the same year French weekly magazine France-Football consulted their former "Ballon D'Or" winners to elect the Football Player of the Century. Pelé came in first position. In 1999 the International Olympic Committee named Pelé the "Athlete of the Century". In his career he scored 760 official goals, 541 in league championships, making him the top scorer of all time. In total Pelé scored 1281 goals in 1363 games.
In his native Brazil, Pelé is hailed as a national hero. He is known for his accomplishments and contributions to the game of football. He is also acknowledged for his vocal support of policies to improve the social conditions of the poor (when he scored his 1,000th goal he dedicated it to the poor children of Brazil). During his career, he became known as "The King of Football" , "The King Pelé" ( or simply "The King" .
Spotted by football star Waldemar de Brito, Pelé began playing for Santos at 15 and his national team at 16, and won his first World Cup at 17. Despite numerous offers from European clubs, the economic conditions and Brazilian football regulations at the time benefited Santos, thus enabling them to keep Pelé for almost two decades until 1974. With Pelé within their ranks, Santos reach their zenith by winning the 1962 and 1963 Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious club competition in South American football. Pelé played as an inside second forward, also known as a playmaker. Pelé's technique and natural athleticism have been universally praised and during his playing years he was renowned for his excellent dribbling and passing, his pace, powerful shot, exceptional heading ability, and prolific goalscoring.
He is the all-time leading scorer of the Brazil national football team and is the only footballer to be a part of three World Cup-winning squads. In 1962 he was on the Brazilian squad at the start of the World Cup but because of an injury suffered in the second match, he was not able to play the remainder of the tournament. In November 2007 FIFA announced that he would be awarded the 1962 medal retroactively, making him the only player in the world to have three World Cup winning medals.
* 1 Early years
* 2 Club career
o 2.1 Santos
o 2.2 New York Cosmos
* 3 National team career
o 3.1 1958 World Cup
o 3.2 1962 World Cup
o 3.3 1966 World Cup
o 3.4 1970 World Cup
* 4 Family
* 5 After football
* 6 Honours
o 6.1 Club
o 6.2 Country
o 6.3 Individual
Pelé was born in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil, the son of Fluminense footballer Dondinho (born João Ramos do Nascimento) and Dona Celeste Arantes. He was named after the American inventor Thomas Edison, however his parents decided to remove the 'i' and call him 'Edson', but there was a mistake on the birth certificate, leading many documents to show his name as 'Edison', not 'Edson', as he is actually called. He was originally nicknamed Dico by his family. He did not receive the nickname "Pelé" until his school days, when it is claimed he was given it because of his pronunciation of the name of his favorite player, local Vasco da Gama goalkeeper Bilé, which he misspoke but the more he complained the more it stuck. In his autobiography, Pelé stated he had no idea what the name means, nor did his old friends. Apart from the assertion that the name is derived from that of Bilé, and that it is Hebrew for miracle, the word has no known meaning in Portuguese.
Pelé grew up in poverty in Bauru, São Paulo. He earned extra money by working in tea shops as a servant. Taught to play by his coach, he could not afford a proper football and usually played with either a sock stuffed with newspaper, tied with a string or a grapefruit. In 1954, aged fourteen, he joined Bauru Athletic Club juniors in Sao Paulo.
Pelé, front row second from right, with the 1960 Campeonato Paulista winners Santos.
In 1956, de Brito took Pelé to Santos, an industrial and port city in the state of São Paulo, to try out for professional club Santos Futebol Clube telling the directors at Santos that the 15-year-old would be "the greatest football player in the world."
Aged 15, Pelé made his debut for Santos in 7 September 1956, scoring one goal in a 7–1 friendly victory over Corinthians.When the 1957 season started, Pelé was given a starting place in the first team and, at the age of just 16, became the top scorer in the league. Just ten months after signing professionally, the teenager was called up to the Brazil national team. After the World Cup in 1962, wealthy European clubs such as Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United tried to sign the young player, but the government of Brazil declared Pelé an "official national treasure" to prevent him from being transferred out of the country.
The 1962 Copa Libertadores trophy.
Pelé won his first major title with Santos in 1958 as the team won the Campeonato Paulista; Pelé would finish the tournament as top scorer with an incredible 58 goals, a record that stands today. A year later, O Rei would help the team earn their first victory in the Torneio Rio-São Paulo with a 3-0 over Vasco da Gama. However, Santos was unable to retain the Paulista title. In 1960, Pelé scored 33 goals to help his team regain the Campeonato Paulista trophy but lost out on the Rio-São Paulo tournament after finishing in a disappointing 8th place.Another 47 goals from Pelé saw Santos retain the Campeonato Paulista. The club went on to win the Taça Brasil that same year, crushing Bahia in the finals; Pelé finished as top scorer of the tournament with 9 goals. The victory allowed Santos to participate in the Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious club tournament in the Western hemisphere.
Santos' most successful club season started in 1962; the team was seeded in Group 1 alongside Cerro Porteño and Deportivo Municipal, winning every match of their group but one (a 1-1 away tie vs Cerro), with Pelé scoring his first goal in a brace against Cerro. Santos defeated Universidad Católica in the semifinals and met defending champions Peñarol in the finals in which Pelé scored another brace in the playoff match to secure the first title for a Brazilian club. Pelé finished as the second best scorer of the competition with 4 goals. That same year, Santos would defend, with success, the Campeonato Brasiliero (with 37 goals from Pelé), the Taça Brasil and win the 1962 Intercontinental Cup against Benfica. Wearing his iconic number 10 shirt, Pelé produced one of his best ever performances and scored a hat-trick in Lisbon, as Santos beat the European champions 5-2.
As the defending champions, Santos qualified automatically to the semifinal stage of the 1963 Copa Libertadores. The ballet blanco managed to retain the title in spectacular fashion after impressive victories over Botafogo and Boca Juniors. Pelé helped Santos overcome a Botafogo team that contained legends such as Garrincha and Jairzinho with an agonizing last-minute goal in the first leg of the semifinals and bring the match to 1-1. In the second leg, Pelé produced one of his best performances as a footballer with a hat-trick in the Estádio do Maracanã as Santos crushed Botafogo 0-4 in the second leg. Appearing in their second consecutive final, Santos started the series by winning 3-2 in the first leg and defeating the Boca Juniors of José Sanfilippo and Antonio Rattín 1-2 in La Bombonera, with another goal from Pelé, becoming the first Brazilian team to lift the Copa Libertadores in Argentine soil. Pelé finished the tournament as the topscorer runner-up with 5 goals. Santos lost the Campeonato Paulista after finishing in third place but went on to win the Rio-São Paulo tournament after an impressive 0-3 win over Flamengo in the final, with Pelé providing one goal in the match. Pelé would also help Santos retain the Intercontinental Cup and the Taça Brasil.
Santos tried to defend their title again in 1964 but they were thoroughly beaten in both legs of the semifinals by Independiente. Santos won again the Campeonato Paulista, with Pelé netting 34 goals. The club also shared the Rio-São Paulo title with Botafogo and win the Taça Brasil for the fourth consecutive year. The Santistas would try to resurge in 1965 by winning, for the 9th time, the Campeonato Paulista and the Taça Brasil. In the 1965 Copa Libertadores, Santos started convincingly by winning every match of their group in the first round. In the semifinals, Santos met Peñarol in a rematch of the 1962 final. After two legendary matches, a playoff was needed to break the tie. Unlike 1962, Peñarol came out on top and eliminated Santos 2-1. Pelé would, however, finish as the topscorer of the tournament with eight goals. This proved to be the start of a decline as Santos failed to retain the Torneio Rio-São Paulo.
In 1966, Pelé and Santos also failed to retain the Taça Brasil as O Rei's goals weren't enough to prevent a 9-4 routing by Cruzeiro in the final series. Although Santos won the Campeonato Paulista in 1967, 1968 and 1969, Pelé became less and less a contributing factor to the Santistas now-limited success. On 19 November 1969, Pelé scored his 1000th goal in all competitions. This was a highly anticipated moment in Brazil. The goal, called popularly O Milésimo (The Thousandth), occurred in a match against Vasco da Gama, when Pelé scored from a penalty kick, at the Maracanã Stadium.
The footprints of Pelé inside the Maracanã.
Pelé states that his most beautiful goal was scored at Rua Javari stadium on a Campeonato Paulista match against São Paulo rival Juventus on 2 August 1959. As there is no video footage of this match, Pelé asked that a computer animation be made of this specific goal. In March 1961, Pelé scored the gol de placa (goal worthy of a plaque), against Fluminense at the Maracanã. Pelé received the ball on the edge of his own penalty area, and ran the length of the field, eluding opposition players, and fired the ball beyond the goalkeeper. The goal was regarded as being so spectacular that a plaque was commissioned with a dedication to the most beautiful goal in the history of the Maracanã.
Pelé’s electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals made him a star around the world.His team Santos toured internationally in order to take full advantage of his popularity. In 1967, the two factions involved in the Nigerian Civil War agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire so they could watch Pelé play an exhibition game in Lagos.During his time at Santos, Pelé played alongside many gifted players, including Zito, Pepe, and Coutinho; the latter partnered him in numerous one-two plays, attacks, and goals.
New York Cosmos
After the 1972 season , Pelé retired from Brazilian club football although he continued to occasionally suit up for Santos in official competitive matches. Two years later, he came out of semi-retirement to sign with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League (NASL) for the 1975 season. Though well past his prime at this point, Pelé is credited with significantly increasing public awareness and interest in soccer in the United States. He led the Cosmos to the 1977 NASL championship, in his third and final season with the club.
On 1 October 1977, Pelé closed out his legendary career in an exhibition match between the Cosmos and Santos. Santos arrived in New York and New Jersey after previously defeating the Seattle Sounders 2–0. The match was played in front of a capacity crowd at Giants Stadium and was televised in the United States on ABC's Wide World of Sports as well as throughout the world. Pelé's father and wife both attended the match, as well as a number of his friends in sport such as Muhammad Ali and Bobby Moore. Pelé gave a brief pre-match speech during which he asked the crowd to say the word "love" with him three times. He played the first half for the Cosmos and the second half for Santos. Pelé scored his final goal on a direct free kick, driving the ball past the diving Santos goalkeeper. At halftime, the Cosmos retired Pelé's number 10. Pelé presented his Cosmos shirt to his father, who was escorted to the field by Cosmos captain Werner Roth. During the second half, Cosmos striker Ramon Mifflin, who had replaced Pelé when he switched sides at halftime, scored on a deflected cross, and the Cosmos won the match 2–1. After the match, Pelé was embraced by the Cosmos players, including longtime rival Giorgio Chinaglia, and then ran around the field while holding an American flag in his left hand and a Brazilian flag in his right hand. Pelé was soon lifted by several Cosmos players and carried around the field.
National team career
Pelé (crouched, second from right to left) and Brazil national team at 1959 Copa America
Pelé's first international match was a 2–1 defeat against Argentina on 7 July 1957 at the Maracanã In that match, he scored his first goal for Brazil aged 16 years and 9 months to become the youngest player to score in International football.
1958 World Cup
Pelé cries on the shoulder of a peaceful Gilmar, after Brazil win the 1958 Cup.
His first match in the World Cup was against the USSR in the first round of the 1958 FIFA World Cup, on the third game of the Cup, alongside Garrincha, Zito and Vavá. He was the youngest player of that tournament, and at the time the youngest ever to play in the World Cup. He scored his first World Cup goal against Wales in quarterfinals, the only goal of the match, to help Brazil advance to semifinals, while becoming the youngest ever World Cup goalscorer at 17 years and 239 days. Against France in the semifinal, Brazil was leading 2–1 at halftime, and then Pelé scored a hat-trick, becoming the youngest in World Cup history to do so.
On 19 June 1958 Pelé became the youngest player to play in a World Cup final match at 17 years and 249 days. He scored two goals in the final as Brazil beat Sweden 5–2. His first goal, a lob over a defender followed by a precise volley shot, was selected as one of the best goals in the history of the World Cup.Following Pelé's second goal, Swedish player Sigvard Parling would later comment; "When Pelé scored the fifth goal in that Final, I have to be honest and say I felt like applauding". When the match ended, Pelé passed out on the field, and had to be attended by the medical staff. He then recovered, and was visibly compelled by the victory; in tears as he was being congratulated by his teammates. He finished the tournament with six goals in four matches played, tied for second place, behind record-breaker Just Fontaine, and was named young player of the tournament.
It was in the 1958 World Cup that Pelé began using a number 10 t-shirt that immortalized him. Recently it is known that the event was the result of disorganization: the leaders didn't send the shirt numbers of players and it was up to FIFA to choose the number 10 shirt to Pele, who was a substitute on the occasion. The press of the time cataloged Pelé as the greatest revelation of the 1958 Cup.
1962 World Cup
Pelé fighting for a ball against the Swedish goalkeeper Kalle Svensson during the 1958 World Cup final.
In the first match of the 1962 World Cup, against Mexico, Pelé assisted the first goal and then scored the second one, after a run past four defenders, to go up 2–0. He injured himself while attempting a long-range shot against Czechoslovakia. This would keep him out of the rest of the tournament, and forced coach Aymoré Moreira to make his only lineup change of the tournament. The substitute was Amarildo, who performed well for the rest of the tournament. However, it was Garrincha who would take the leading role and carry Brazil to their second World Cup title.
1966 World Cup
The 1966 World Cup was marked, among other things, for the brutal fouling on Pelé, by the Bulgarian and Portuguese defenders. By this stage Pelé was the most famous footballer in the world, and the expectation was that Brazil, at the very least, would reach the final.Brazil was eliminated in the first round, playing only three matches. Pelé scored the first goal from a free kick against Bulgaria, becoming the first player to score in three successive FIFA World Cups, but due to his injury, a result of persistent fouling by the Bulgarians, he missed the second game against Hungary.Brazil lost that game and Pelé, although still recovering, was brought back for the last crucial match against Portugal. In that game João Morais brutally fouled Pelé, but was not sent off by referee George McCabe, of whom it is acknowledged let "the Portuguese get away with murder".[Pelé had to stay on the field limping for the rest of the game, since substitutes were not allowed at that time. After this game he vowed he would not play again in the World Cup, a decision he would later change.
1970 World Cup
Pelé was called to the national team in early 1969, he refused at first, but then accepted and played in six World Cup qualifying matches, scoring six goals. The 1970 World Cup in Mexico was to be Pelé's last. Brazil's squad for the tournament featured major changes in relation to the 1966 squad. Players like Garrincha, Nilton Santos, Valdir Pereira, Djalma Santos, and Gilmar had already retired, but the team, with Pelé, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Gérson, Carlos Alberto Torres, Tostão, and Clodoaldo, is often considered to be the greatest football team in history.
Pelé, front row second from right, before the match against Peru in the 1970 World Cup
In the first match, against Czechoslovakia, Pelé gave Brazil a 2–1 lead, by controlling Gerson's long pass with his chest and then scoring. In this match Pelé audaciously attempted to lob goalkeeper Ivo Viktor from the half-way line, only narrowly missing the Czechoslovak goal. Brazil went on to win the match, 4–1. In the first half of the match against England, Pelé nearly scored with a header that was spectacularly saved by Gordon Banks. In the second half, he assisted Jairzinho for the only goal of the match. Against Romania, Pelé opened the score on a direct free kick goal, a strong strike with the outside of his right foot. Later on in the match he scored again to take the score to 3–1. Brazil won by a final score of 3–2. In the quarterfinals against Peru, Brazil won 4–2, with Pelé assisting Tostão on for Brazil's third goal. In the semi-finals, Brazil faced Uruguay for the first time since the 1950 World Cup final round match. Jairzinho put Brazil ahead 2–1, and Pelé assisted Rivelino for the 3–1. During that match, Pelé made one of his most famous plays. Tostão gave Pelé a through ball, and Uruguay's goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz took notice of it. The keeper ran off of his line to get the ball before Pelé, but Pelé got there first and fooled the keeper by not touching the ball, causing it to roll to the keeper's left, while Pelé went right. Pelé went around the goalkeeper and took a shot while turning towards the goal, but he turned in excess as he shot, and the ball drifted just wide of the far post.
Brazil played Italy in the final, with Pelé scoring the opener, with a header over Italian defender Tarcisio Burgnich. He then made assists on Jairzinho's and Carlos Alberto's goals, the latter one coming after an impressive collective play. Brazil won the match 4–1, keeping the Jules Rimet Trophy indefinitely, and Pelé was named player of the tournament. Burgnich, who marked Pelé during the final, was quoted saying "I told myself before the game, he's made of skin and bones just like everyone else — but I was wrong".
Pelé is the greatest player of all time. He reigned supreme for 20 years. All the others - Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini - rank beneath him. There's no one to compare with Pelé.
—West Germany's 1974 FIFA World Cup-winning captain Franz Beckenbauer
Pelé's last international match was on 18 July 1971 against Yugoslavia in Rio de Janeiro. With Pelé on the field, the Brazilian team's record was 67 wins, 14 draws, and 11 losses, and they won three World Cups, with Pelé being the only player in history to have three winners medals.Brazil never lost a match while fielding both Pelé and Garrincha. The only international match Garrincha lost was against Hungary in 1966, 1–3, which Pelé did not play in because of injury.
On 21 February 1966, Pelé married Rosemeri dos Reis Cholby. He has two daughters Kelly Cristina (13 January 1967) and Jennifer (1978) as well as a son Edson ("Edinho" – little Edson, 27 August 1970). The couple divorced in 1978. Since April 1994 Pelé has been married to psychologist and gospel singer Assíria Lemos Seixas, who gave birth on 28 September 1996 to twins Joshua and Celeste through fertility treatments.
President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva and Pelé in commemoration for 50 years since the first World Cup title won by Brazil in 1958, at the Palácio do Planalto, 2008.
'After football Prime Brands, a Brazilian Licensing Company created in 2006, directed by CEO José Kanner, now manages the Pelé brand including contracts with IMG Licensing who acts on behalf of Prime for international licensing, working with partners such as Pelé Sports, Kotobukiya and the Art of Pelé amongst others.'
The most notable area of Pelé's life since football is his ambassadorial work for various bodies. In 1992, Pelé was appointed a United Nations ambassador for ecology and the environment.
Pelé, Brazil's Extraordinary Minister for Sport, with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Rio de Janeiro, October 15 1997.
He was awarded Brazil's Gold Medal for outstanding services to the sport in 1995, Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso appointed him to the position of "Extraordinary Minister for Sport" and he was appointed a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. During this time he proposed legislation to reduce corruption in Brazilian football, which became known as the Pelé law. Pelé left his position in 2001 after he was accused of involvement in a corruption scandal, although nothing was proven, and it was also denied by UNICEF.In 1997, Pelé received an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II, at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace.
Pelé scouted for Premier League club Fulham in 2002.He was chosen to do the draw for the qualification groups for the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals.
Pelé has published several autobiographies, starred in documentary and semi-documentary films and composed various musical pieces, including the entire soundtrack for the film Pelé in 1977. He appeared, alongside other footballers of the 1960s and 1970s, with Michael Caine, and Sylvester Stallone, in the 1981 film Escape to Victory, about an attempted escape from a World War II German POW Camp.
Pelé in South Africa during 2010 World Cup, June 10th, 2010.
Pelé signed a major autobiographical book deal in 2006, resulting in a giant-sized, 45 cm × 35 cm, 2,500 unit limited-edition collectible "Pelé", created by UK luxury publishers, Gloria, as the first-ever football "big book". In the same period, Pelé received a lifetime achievement award from the BBC and in June 2006, helped inaugurate the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, alongside supermodel Claudia Schiffer.Pelé also produced an international ad campaign for drug company Pfizer to promote Viagra and raise world awareness of erectile dysfunction.
Pelé was guest of honour at the world's oldest football club, Sheffield's 150th anniversary match v Inter Milan in November 2007. Inter won 5–2 in front of an appreciative crowd of nearly 19,000 at Bramall Lane. As part of his visit, Pelé opened an exhibition which included the first public showing in 40 years of the original hand written rules of football.
In 2009, he cooperated with Ubisoft on arcade football game Academy of Champions: Soccer for the Wii and also appeared in the game as a coach to its players.
On August 1, 2010, Pelé was introduced as the Honorary President of a revived New York Cosmos (2010), aiming to field a team in Major League Soccer.
* Copa Libertadores: 1962, 1963
* Campeonato Paulista: 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1973
* Taça Brasil: 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965
* Torneio Roberto Gomes Pedrosa: 1968
* Torneio Rio-São Paulo: 1959, 1963, 1964, 1966
* Intercontinental Cup: 1962, 1963
* Recopa Intercontinental: 1968
United States New York Cosmos
* North American Soccer League: 1977
* Roca Cup: 1957, 1963
* FIFA World Cup: 1958, 1962, 1970
* Brazil Santos
o Copa Libertadores top scorer : 1965.
o Campeonato Paulista top scorer : 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1969, 1973.
* Brazil Brazil
o Copa América top scorer : 1959.
* BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality:
o Winner : 1970
* FIFA World Cup (Best Young Player):
o Winner : 1958
* FIFA World Cup (Silver Boot): 1958
* FIFA World Cup Silver Ball: 1958
* FIFA World Cup Golden Ball (Best Player):
o 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 Magazine One of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century: 1999
* FIFA Player of the Century : 2000 (view : http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/players/player=63869/bio.html )
* 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
In December 2000, Pelé and Maradona shared the prize of FIFA Player of the Century by FIFA. The award was originally intended to be based upon votes in a web poll, but after it became apparent that it favoured Diego Maradona, many observers complained that the Internet nature of the poll would have meant a skewed demographic of younger fans who would have seen Maradona play, but not Pelé. FIFA then appointed a "Family of Football" committee of FIFA members to decide the winner of the award. The committee chose Pelé. Since Maradona was winning the Internet poll, however, it was decided he and Pelé should share the award.
* BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award:
o Winner (1): 2005
A consensus of media and expert polls rank Pelé as the greatest footballer of all time.