Edson Arantes do Nascimento, KBE (born October 23,
1940), nicknamed Pele, a Brazlilian, is a former
football (soccer)|football player and thought by
many to be the finest player of all time. He was
often considered to be the complete footballer, as
he was completely two-footed, a prolific finisher,
exceptional at dribbling and passing, and was a
remarkably good tackler for a forward. Technically
outstanding, he also became famed for his
lightning speed and his strength on the ball. Over
the course of his career, PelÃ© scored over a
thousand goals and won three world cups. Since his
full retirement in 1977 he has served as an
ambassador for the sport.
Edson was born in TrÃªs CoraÃ§Ãµes, Minas Gerais,
Brazil, the son of Fluminense footballer JoÃ£o
Ramos do Nascimento, also known as Dondinho. He
was named after American inventor Thomas Edison,
and did not receive the nickname "PelÃ©" until his
school days. He originally disliked the nickname,
but the more he complained the more he was called
by it. Later in life, when reflecting that the
world came to know the name, he stated his belief
that it was chosen for him by God.
Growing up in poverty on the streets of Bauru, he
could not afford a football and usually played
with either a sock stuffed with papers or a
grapefruit. He was given his first leather ball on
his sixth birthday by his father's teammate, Sosa.
At the age of eleven, PelÃ© was scouted by
Brazilian legend Waldemar de Brito and was invited
to join de Brito's amateur team, Clube AtlÃ©tico
Bauru. In 1956, Pele's mentor took him to the city
of SÃ£o Paulo, to try out for professional club
Santos Futebol Clube|Santos. De Brito told the
directors at Santos that the fifteen year old
would be "the greatest football player in the
world". PelÃ© was offered professional terms and
scored four goals in his first league game. When
the new season started, PelÃ© was given a starting
place in the first team and, at the age of just
sixteen, became the top scorer in the league. Just
ten months after signing professionally, the
teenager was called up to the
In Football World Cup 1958|1958, PelÃ© became the
youngest ever Football World Cup|World Cup winner
in Sweden at 17, scoring two goals in the final as
Brazil crushed Sweden 5-2 in Stockholm. He played
in three more Brazilian world cup teams in 1962,
1966 and 1970, two of which Brazil won (1962 and
1970). Although his contributions were limited in
the 1962 and 1966 campaigns because of injuries
inflicted by the dirty play of opposition players,
the 1970 tournament in Mexico was to be PelÃ©'s
last. The 1970 team, featuring famous players
like Rivelino, Jairzinho, and TostÃ£o, is often
considered to be the greatest team ever. Brazil
defeated Italy 4-1 in the final, with PelÃ©
scoring one and gloriously setting up Jairzinho
for another in what some still consider to be the
finest ever world cup.
PelÃ©'s sublime technique and deft touch combined
with his phenomenal dribbling skills and
incredible scoring ability cannot be overstated.
His immense haul of over twelve hundred career
goals in all competitions has not even come close
to being matched by any other man in the history
of the professional game. His unrivalled talent
in by far the world's most popular sport has led
many to consider him to have been the finest
sportsman in the history of the world.
After his retirement from Brazilian football on
October 3, 1974, he joined the New York Cosmos of
the North American Soccer League. He played his
last game as a professional on October 1, 1977 in
front of a capacity crowd at Giants Stadium
against his old club, Santos; he played the first
half with the Cosmos and the second half with
Santos. The exhibition game was sold out six weeks
beforehand. He also played in a friendly match
with the Lebanon|Lebanese club Nejmeh in 1974 (see
Football in Lebanon).
In 1995, Fernando Henrique Cardoso|President
Cardoso appointed PelÃ© to the position of
Minister of Sports.
PelÃ© is a long-standing contributor for
children's rights at UNICEF and acts as the
figurehead of a charity for erectile dysfunction.
PelÃ© is certainly one of the most famous men in
football, with his nickname being recognized even
by those unfamiliar with the sport.
In 2005, PelÃ© drew international media attention
due to the imprisonment of Edson Cholbi
Nascimento, his son, who was arrested in an
operation to dismantle a drug gang in southeastern
Brazil. Nascimento, 35, was arrested along with
some 50 other people after an eight-month
investigation into a cocaine trafficking operation
in the port city of Santos.
PelÃ© is in third place in the list of all-time
top goalscorers in World Cup play, with 12 Goal
(sport)|goals, and he is the only player who won
three World Cups with his team. He ended his
career with a total of 1281 goals in 1363 matches,
becoming the highest goalscorer in professional
football ever. In his 92 appearances for the
Brazilian national football team|Brazilian team,
he scored 77 goals.
He was awarded Brazil's Gold Medal (Brazil)|Gold
Medal for outstanding services to the sport,
before becoming Sports Minister in 1994. In 1997,
he was given an honorary British knighthood.
In 1992, PelÃ© was appointed a United Nations
Ambassador for Ecology and the Environment.
In 1995, he was appointed an Ambassador for UNESCO
at the Goodwill Games.
He was voted athlete of the century by the
International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1999.
In December 2000, PelÃ© was named Footballer of
the Century by a "Family of Football" committee
appointed by FIFA, after a web poll favored Diego
Maradona. (For details of the controversial
12/10/maradona_pele_ap/ Sports Illustrated
In the same year, PelÃ© received the Laureus World
Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement Award from
South African President Nelson Mandela.
PelÃ© is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.