Pele is a retired Brazilian professional footballer who played as a forward. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He is the most successful player in terms of titles won, with 10 FIFA World Cups to his name. In 1999, he was named FIFA Player of the Century and was one of the two joint winners of the Ballon d’Or in 1970.
Pele was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on October 23, 1940, in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil. His parents were Dondinho (born João Ramos do Nascimento) and Celeste Arantes. Dondinho was a flamboyant former footballer for Fluminense who had earned the nickname “the Cannonball” because of his powerful shooting ability; he later became a manager and coach at Sao Paulo FC.
At the age of six, Pele started playing football with neighbourhood friends; he could only afford a worn-out ball that constantly needed to be re-inflated using an old bicycle pump operated by his father. When he turned 15, his talent was finally spotted by Waldemar de Brito, a former Brazilian international and scout for Santos FC who persuaded the club’s directors to sign him up.
Pele made his senior team debut for Santos at just 16 years old on September 7th 1956 against Corinthians Santo Andre and scored his first goal in the same match; this began an incredible run of scoring goals which would see him notch up an astonishing total of 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches during his 21 year career with Santos FC from 1956 to 1974 – including 77 goals in 91 appearances for Brazil! In addition to winning numerous domestic titles with Santos, they also triumphed in the 1962 and 1963 Copa Libertadores (South American equivalent of the European Champions League).
Here are ten fun facts about Pele:
1. Pele’s soccer career began at the age of 15, when he was signed by Santos FC.
2. Pele scored his first professional goal in a game against Corinthians in September 1956.
3. He has been married twice and has fathered five children, one of whom is also a professional footballer – Edinho who plays for São Paulo FC.
4. In his last game, he played as a goalkeeper and saved a penalty.
5. Pele is the only player to have won three World Cup titles, in 1958, 1962, and 1970.
6. Pele scored a total of 77 goals in 91 appearances for Brazil.
7. Pele retired from professional soccer in 1977.
8. In 1993, Pele was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
9. On his 1000th professional goal, he dedicated it to “the sick children of Brazil”.
10. In 2010, he was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.