Pele: Life Story, Bio and Facts

Pele (Photo: cliff1066)

Pele is a name no soccer fan can do without, and the man is touted to be the best soccer player the world ever saw.

Pele did not have the world handed over to him on a silver platter, he worked his way sweat and blood to the upper echelons of sports persons.

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What is it that had the young man get back onto his feet every time he was tackled to the ground?
What inspired him to take no notice of buffeted bones in his body, and return to the soccer field at the earliest?

The answer to the questions posed is something that you must experience to believe. When your work is not just work but the element that defines you, and when you derive satisfaction that is greater than any pain that can be inflicted on you, nothing else matters, and you plough on.

Pele Story

Pele was born Edson Arantes Do Nascimento on 3 October 1940. His father was a soccer player who was forced to retire from the game when he fractured his leg.

Young Pele grew up in poverty, and used to polish shoes to help contribute to the family income. The boy showed great interest for, and talent in, soccer and was playing for a local minor league club when he got his first break.

The 11-year-old Pele caught the eye of Waldemar de Brito, a premier player of the nation. Brito is said to have presented Pele to skeptical directors at Santos, boldly stating that Pele would be the greatest soccer player in the world. Whether or not he truly believed in his passionate statement at the time he made it remains immaterial.

Pele proved himself to Santos when, at the age of 16, he scored a goal in his very first mainstream match, which was against Corinthians FC.

The world began to sit up and pay attention when a 17-year-old Pele scored a whopping 6 goals during the 1958 World Cup, thereby leading the Brazil National Team to victory. Brazil won its first World Cup that year.

With word of his brilliant performances spreading like wildfire, and a wide range of sports clubs showing unmasked interest in having Pele play for them, Brazil declared its star soccer player a national treasure, thereby barring Pele from playing for any non-Brazilian club or corporation.

Pele was a vision when on the field, with his agile 5 ft. 8 inches frame swiftly running across the arena, his deft feet expertly dribbling the ball. Besides being hailed for his extraordinary command on the ball and powerful kicks, Pele also commanded admiration for his powerful head shots.

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In 1962, Pele was unable to play alongside his team during World Cup as he sustained severe injuries during the first match of the tournament. However, in 1970, Pele led his team to win what would be the 3rd World Cup for his nation.

His goal was precious in more ways than one – not only was it Brazil’s 100th World Cup goal, but it was also a goal that was close to Pele’s heart as he had scored it with his head. Pele’s dad was adept at headshots, and is reported to have made 5 headshot goals in a single match, and the move was special for Pele.

Pele’s score board is stunning. In all, the master soccer player has scored 1,280 goals, and is second only to Arthur Friedenreich, another Brazilian soccer player with 1,329 goals in his kitty. Pele’s average worked out to one goal at every international game. 92 hat tricks and 97 international goals are the statistics that place his at the top of his game, with his statistics being the highest ever.

After he retired, Pele returned to active soccer for a short span of 2 years to promote soccer in North America. He played in the North American Soccer League to attract the interest of millions of Americans towards the “beautiful game” of soccer.

He played an exhibition game between Cosmos and Santos, playing for the former during the first half, and for the latter team during the second half. He used his popularity to spread the message of love and peace among the followers of the game, and had crowds chanting “Love! Love! Love!” during the exhibition match.

Pele invested a lot of time and effort to advance the popularity of soccer. He penned autobiographies, and even starred in various documentary and semi-documentary films that focused on soccer, or on his life as a soccer player.

Towards the end of his soccer career, Pele also went to display his acting skills, and he is also a musician. His other talents, too, were invested to promote soccer and goodwill among populations.

Lessons from Pele's story

All that a person who thumbs down Pele’s biography will see are a series of success stories, with glorious inputs from the player himself, sports commentators and ecstatic audiences highlighting the legend’s prowess on the field.

Few care to recount the instances when Pele suffered grievous wounds during a game and quit the field in tears, only to return better than before for the next match. Here is the sportsmanship that propelled the player to be the man he is.

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The world of soccer would still be waiting for its king if Pele was an ordinary player who was on the field for merely fame or money, rather than for true passion for the sport.

One lesson that can be learnt from Pele's story, therefore, is that the key to success is to indulge in that which your heart lay.

Another lesson is that a successful man is not the one who does not meet failure, but the one who accepts failure as a part of his learning process and moves on.
An adult who is trying to attain a set goal must be like a toddler learning to walk - not afraid of falling down, and getting up every time he falls down to try and walk again, one step at a time.


Short Bio: Who is Pele?

Pele is the nickname of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, a retired Brazilian professional soccer player. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest soccer players of all time. Pele began his professional career as a teenager with Santos FC in Brazil and quickly became one of the most successful soccer players of his generation. He helped Santos win multiple Brazilian league titles and international club competitions.

Pele's performances with Santos earned him a call-up to the Brazilian national team, and he quickly established himself as one of the team's key players. He played in four World Cup tournaments and is considered one of the best players in World Cup history, he helped Brazil win the tournament in 1958, 1962 and 1970, becoming the only player ever to win three World Cups. He was the first player to score over 1,000 goals in his career and set a number of records that still stand today.

Pele was known for his exceptional ball control, speed, and goal-scoring abilities. He was a prolific scorer and a creative playmaker, and he was able to score goals in a variety of ways, from headers to free kicks to volleys. He was also known for his sportsmanship and his ability to play with his teammates. Pele was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit in 1984 and was inducted into the FIFA Hall of Fame in 2011.

Pele Fast Facts

  • Pele's real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, but he is widely known by his nickname Pele.
  • He began his professional soccer career as a teenager with Santos FC in Brazil and quickly established himself as one of the best players in the world.
  • Pele helped Santos win multiple Brazilian league titles and international club competitions.
  • He played in four World Cup tournaments with the Brazilian national team, and he is considered one of the best players in World Cup history. He helped Brazil win the tournament in 1958, 1962, and 1970.
  • He was the first player to score over 1,000 goals in his career and set a number of records that still stand today.
  • Pele is known for his exceptional ball control, speed, and goal-scoring abilities. He was a prolific scorer and a creative playmaker, and he was able to score goals in a variety of ways, from headers to free kicks to volleys.
  • He was also known for his sportsmanship and his ability to play with his teammates.
  • Pele was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit in 1984 and was inducted into the FIFA Hall of Fame in 2011.
  • Pele was also known as "The King of Football" and "The Black Pearl"
  • After his retirement, Pele has been active in charity and in promoting the sport of soccer, he also was a United Nations ambassador for ecology and the environment.

How pele changed soccer?

Pele is credited with popularizing soccer in South America and around the world, and his success on the field helped to bring the sport to a wider audience. Dutch star Johan Cruyff stated, "Pelé was the only footballer who surpassed the boundaries of logic." Brazil's 1970 World Cup-winning captain Carlos Alberto Torres opined: "His great secret was improvisation. Those things he did were in one moment. He had an extraordinary perception of the game."

Pelé has been known for connecting the phrase "The Beautiful Game" with football. A prolific goalscorer, he was known for his ability to anticipate opponents in the area and finish off chances with an accurate and powerful shot. Pelé was also a hard-working team player with exceptional vision and intelligence, who was recognised for his precise passing and ability to link up with teammates and provide them with assists.

Short biography and history of Pele as a footballer

Pelé became famous for his exceptional skill and success on the soccer field. He started his professional career at a young age, and quickly gained recognition for his talent and ability to score incredible goals.

  • Pelé signed a professional contract with the club Santos in June 1956. He made his senior team debut on September 1956 at the age of 15. When the 1957 season started, Pelé was given a starting place in the first team and, at the age of 16, became the top scorer in the league. Pelé won his first major title with Santos in 1958.
  • Pelé's first international match was against Argentina in 1957. In that match, he scored his first goal for Brazil aged 16, and he remains the youngest goalscorer for his country. In 1958 Pelé became the youngest player to play in a World Cup final match at 17 years. When the 1962 World Cup started, Pelé was the best-rated player in the world. Pelé's last international match was in 1971.
  • After his 19th with Santos, in 1974, Pelé retired from Brazilian club football. A year later, he came out of semi-retirement to sign with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. Pelé led the Cosmos team to the 1977 Soccer Bowl, in his third and final season with the club.

Did Pele win a world cup?

Yes, Pele won the World Cup three times. Pele won the World Cup in 1958, 1962, and 1970, with a total of 12 goals.

Did Pele play outside Brazil?

After a successful career in Brazil with Santos FC, Pele signed with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 1975. He played with the Cosmos for two seasons and helped to popularize soccer in the United States. Pele retired from professional soccer in 1977.

Did Pele and Maradona play together?

No, Pele and Diego Maradona did not play together on the same team. Pele and Maradona are widely considered two of the greatest soccer players of all time, but they played during different eras and never had the opportunity to play on the same team. Pele played professionally from 1956 to 1977, while Maradona played from 1976 to 1997.

Does Pele have kids?

Yes, Pele has children. Pele has been married three times and has a total of six children. His children are named Edinho, Jennifer, Marko, Joshua, Celeste, and Lila.

How Pele get his name?

Pelé's real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento. He was given the nickname "Pelé" when he was a young boy. The story behind his nickname is that it was given to him by his friends who thought that he looked like a Brazilian goalkeeper named Bilé. Pelé's friends started calling him "Pelé," which was a combination of his last name and Bilé. The nickname stuck, and Pelé became known as Pelé throughout his career and in popular culture.

Was Pele rich?

Pelé amassed a significant fortune throughout his career. In addition to his salary as a professional soccer player, Pelé also earned income through endorsement deals and other business ventures. He used his wealth and influence to support a number of charitable causes, and he was known for his philanthropy and generosity.

Was Pele a striker?

Yes, Pelé was a striker, and he is known for his exceptional skill and ability to score goals. Pelé was known for his speed, agility, and exceptional finishing ability, which made him one of the most dangerous strikers in the history of the sport.

Has Pele passed away?

Yes, Pelé passed away on 29 December 2022, at the age of 82, due to multiple organ failure, a complication of colon cancer.

Pele Quotes

"Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do." (Meaning)

"Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string." (Meaning)

"If you don't give education to people, it is easy to manipulate them." (Meaning)

"The bicycle kick is not easy to do."

"A penalty is a cowardly way to score."

"Sport is something that is very inspirational for young people."

"I always had a philosophy which I got from my father. He used to say, 'Listen. God gave to you the gift to play football. This is your gift from God. If you take care of your health, if you are in good shape all the time, with your gift from God no one will stop you, but you must be prepared.'" (Meaning)

"The bicycle kick is not easy to do. I scored 1,283 goals, and only two or three were bicycle kicks."

"At 17, I already had responsibility because I took care of my family, but in the football I was young; I wasn't experienced or the captain - I was just in the team."

"All my life I thank God. My family was very religious."

"When I was minister of sport in Brazil, I tried to bring in a law that would make the chairmen of clubs reveal their accounts like other businesses. It was turned down, but I think it is an important story that will make a good film."

"I played for Santos at 16, and we had an excellent team, so it helped a lot. And then I played for Brazil at the Maracana against Argentina. So I get more experience. This was one year before the World Cup, and it made a lot of difference."

"When you play against dirty players or very tough players, it's easy to escape because you know what they're going to do. But when the player is tough but intelligent, it's much more difficult."

"When you are young, you do a lot of stupid things."

"When I retired, at that time I had a lot of proposals to play in Europe, England, Italy, Spain, Mexico. But I said no, after 18 years I want to rest, because I want to retire."

"To be a striker you need to be in good shape."

"Everything is practice." (Meaning)

"A lot of people, when a guy scores a lot of goals, think, 'He's a great player', because a goal is very important, but a great player is a player who can do everything on the field. He can do assists, encourage his colleagues, give them confidence to go forward. It is someone who, when a team does not do well, becomes one of the leaders."

"I am constantly being asked about individuals. The only way to win is as a team. Football is not about one or two or three star players."

"Pele doesn't die. Pele will never die. Pele is going to go on for ever."

"When I was a footballer, I surrounded myself with footballers. We were all friends. But in Brasilia you don't know who your friends are. It can be a dangerous place."

"The World Cup is a very complicated tournament - six games, seven if you make it to the final - and maybe if you lose one game you're out, even if you're the best."

"Everybody knows my life. I won a lot of tournaments and scored more than 1,000 goals, won three World Cups but I could not play in Olympic Games."

"Brazil's always had great players, both at home and abroad, but we need to put all that talent together and mould a team out of it."

"I was really proud that I was named after Thomas Edison and wanted to be called Edson. I thought Pele sounded horrible. It was a rubbish name. Edson sounded so much more serious and important."

"Everything on earth is a game. A passing thing. We all end up dead. We all end up the same." (Meaning)

Pele Quotes


* The editor of this short biography made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any quotes, facts, or key life events. If you're looking to expand your personal development, I recommend exploring other people's life stories and gaining inspiration from my collection of inspiring quotes. Exposing yourself to different perspectives can broaden your worldview and help you with your personal growth.

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Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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