BRAZIL- Pele, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was a Brazilian football (soccer) player who was well-known during his time and possibly the most highly-paid athlete in the world.
He was born October 23, 1940, in Três Coraçes, Brazil, and died on December 29, 2022, in So Paolo, Brazil. During his playing career (1958, 1962, and 1970), he was a member of three Brazilian World Cup championship teams.
Despite playing for a minor league club in Bauru, Sao Paulo state, Pelé (whose nickname appears to be meaningless) wasn’t accepted by major clubs. As an inside left forward for Santos Football Club in 1956, Pelé won nine Sao Paulo league titles and, in 1962 and 1963, both the Libertadores Cup and the Intercontinental Club Cup for the team. Known as “PérolaNegra” (“Black Pearl”), he became a national hero of Brazil.
Powerful kicks, accurate accuracy, and remarkable ability to anticipate other players’ moves made him one of the best kickers in the world. In 1958, the Brazilian government declared Pelé a national treasure in order to prevent him from leaving for European clubs. In his 909th first-class match, he scored his 1,000th goal on November 19, 1969.
As a 16-year-old, Pelé made his international debut in 1957 and played his first match in the World Cup finals in Sweden the following year. At first, the Brazilian manager was hesitant to play his young star. Upon reaching the field, Pelé made an immediate impact, rattling the post with one shot and collecting an assist.
In the championship game, Brazil defeated Sweden 5-2 after a hat trick from him in the semifinal against France. In the second match of the 1962 World Cup finals, Pelé tore up his thigh muscle and was forced to miss the remainder of the tournament. Despite this, Brazil went on to win its second World Cup. As a result of rough play and injuries, Brazil went out in the first round of the 1966 World Cup, and Pelé contemplated retiring.
In 1970, he earned Brazil’s third World Cup title and permanent ownership of the Jules Rimet Trophy with young stars Jairzinhoand Rivelino. Pelé finished his World Cup career having scored 12 goals in 14 games.
Known around the world for his spectacular goals and electrifying play, Pelé became an international star. He toured internationally with Santos in order to capitalize on his popularity. The great player and his team traveled to Nigeria in 1967, where a 48-hour cease-fire was declared during that nation’s civil war to allow all to watch him.
Although Pelé announced his retirement in 1974, he signed a three-year agreement in 1975 to promote soccer in the United States with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. During his tenure with the Cosmos, he led the team to a league championship in 1977.
In 1978, Pelé was awarded the International Peace Award. During the 1980s, he was named Athlete of the Century by the French sports publication L’Equipe, and he was awarded the same honor in 1999 by the International Olympic Committee. A museum dedicated to Pelé opened in Santos, Brazil, in 2014.
Aside from his achievements in sports, he also published several best-selling autobiographies and starred in several successful documentaries and semi-documentaries. Additionally, he composed the soundtrack to the 1977 film Pelé.