Edson Arantes do Nascimento is one of the most famous people in the whole world. However, outside Brazil many people would have no idea who you are talking about if you start telling his story using the name he was baptized with. This world football celebrity is better known by his childhood nickname, Pelé, and his life story is full of determination, victories and titles.
Born on 23 October 1940, in the city of Três Corações, State of Minas Gerais, Pelé is considered by many to be the greatest football player of all times. The figures prove this: according to the International Association Football Federation, Pelé is the player who has scored most goals in official games: 541. He is also in the Book of Records for having scored 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches in which he played, with this total also including friendlies and other unofficial matches.
A sock was his first football
Better known in Brazil as King Pelé, he was the best paid football player in his generation. However, his career started amid utter poverty, in Bauru, State of São Paulo. His family could not even afford to give him a football, so he acquired his football wizardry by kicking a sock around, or maybe some fruit. Even so, his talent soon became evident and his first youth team, Bauru Atlético Clube, won their league three years in succession (1954 to 1956).
At the age of 15, he made his début for Santos FC, and only ten months later he had already been called up to participate in matches wearing the traditional yellow shirts of the Brazilian national team. His first international goal was scored against Argentina in 1957, which made him the youngest player to score a goal against another country anywhere in the world – he is also the youngest player to have participated in a World Cup Final, which he achieved at the age of 17. He took both teams to a large number of victories, and also brought a hat-trick of World Cup triumphs for Brazil, which until then had no stars on their official strip.
Pelé’s fame is not only due to the figures, but also the beauty of his goals, dribbles and vision of the game. Much of what he has conquered is put down to his power of improvising and also the application of tactics that could not be predicted. Even though he played as a striker, he was always prepared to take on any position, including that of goalkeeper. He is also congratulated for having retired while still in his prime, bowing out of the football fields in 1971, when he was only 31 years old.