Pele’s life recap




Soccer Legend Pelé became well known as a superstar when he emerged onto the scene when he was 17 years old at the 1958 World Cup.  As the years progressed he played for the Brazilian team and proceeded to have a historic career.   

Pele as a youngster via Starsunfolded

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known by his nickname Pelé, was born on October 23, 1940 in Três Corações, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil.  Pelé grew up in extreme poverty in Bauru, São Paulo with a passion for futbol, but no money for shoes or a ball.  He played with his friends with a ball made out of a sock filled with newspapers.  He would help his mother at her job when he was younger by shining shoes and cleaning houses.  When he was nine years old, he was helping his mother with one of these jobs, and he heard the boys who lived in the house say they would be famous soccer players. He excitedly said that he will be Pelé, but he meant to say Bilé who was a former famous Brazilian goalkeeper.  Since he said that, the boys in the house started making fun of him.  This made him mad and he dumped his cleaning supplies all over the floor.   On the way out of the house he grabbed a flier off of the counter to join a soccer tournament.  Pelé got his friends to join the tournament with him.  They played very well, and made it to the finals even without wearing shoes.  Unfortunately, after their semifinal game they found out that they would be playing the boys from the house in the final.  The captain of the other team Jose Altafini told everyone to call him Pelé and Pele’s team  “The Shoeless Ones.”  This made them need to find a way to get shoes,  so they stole nearby workers’ peanuts and sold them to buy shoes and wear them in the match.  In the beginning of the match, they were getting crushed.  Soon, Pelé decided to take off his shoes and play the way he wanted to.  His friends did the same and it almost led to a great comeback, but they lost by one goal.  The crowd had chanted Pelé’s name  so he began to like the nickname. 

 In addition to this, he played so well that a scout from Santos Futbol club who was watching the game gave his dad his number.  His dad decided not to call the scout right away.   Instead, Pelé worked hard with his father who helped him to keep his great playing skills. When he turned 15 years old his mother realized that she should call the scout.  The scout was still impressed with his skills and offered him a tryout to the Santos FC.  The coach during the tryout did not like his Ginga style of play, but he was still able to make it on to the youth team.  At first, he played terribly because he tried to switch his style for the coach.  One day, Pelé decided he wanted to quit and go home, but before he could get on the train the scout met him at the station and told him why he should keep trying and show that it is not wrong to play differently than the others.  This led Pelé to start playing the way he does and he tore it up.  

Pele winning the 1958 World Cup via Los Angeles Times.

Because Pelé was playing so amazingly well, he was announced to the Brazilian National team.  At age 17 he was the youngest player to play in the World Cup ever.  Before the game, Pelés former enemy, now teammate Jose Altafini, made him realize once again that he should play his style of play despite the fact that the coach did not want him to use the Ginga style.  This made Pelé shake off the nerves, which led to him scoring the only goal of the game against Wales to send them to the semifinals against France.  In the semifinals he picked up where he left off scoring three goals in the 5-2 victory.  In the finals, the Brazilian team were huge underdogs against the Sweden team, but the team came together and changed the way they played to the Ginga style of play. Since they played differently than the other teams,  they won 5-2 in the final and took home the World Cup.  In the next World Cup, the Brazilian team cruised through all of the stages including the final against Czechoslovakia winning 3-1. In the 1966 World Cup the Brazilian team and Pelé played poorly, losing 2 of 3 matches and not making it past the group stage.   In 1970, Pelé and his team came back  winning every game including the final, which they won 4-1.  This gave Pelé his third World Cup in four appearances and his final one.  A couple years later Pelé decided to move to the US and play for the New York Cosmos.  He played there for three seasons and then decided to retire.    

After retirement, Pelé helped many different causes such as poverty reduction, anti-corruption movements, and environmental protection.  In addition, he gave back and was a role model to people in Brazil and all over the world.   He also served as the Minister of Sport in Brazil, and assumed the role of a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador.  Furthermore, he promoted “The Beautiful Game” as he called it all around the world.  


On December 29, 2022 Pelé passed away at the age of 82 years old in Sao Paulo, Brazil.