Edison Arantes do Nascimento, born 23 October 1940, best known by his nickname Pele is a retired Brazilian football player. He was given the title of Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee. Time magazine listed Pelé one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century. While his birth certificate shows his first name as Edison (after Thomas Edison), he prefers to call himself Edson, but it is as Pelé that he has become a sporting legend.
In his native Brazil, Pelé is hailed as a national hero. He is known for his accomplishments and contributions to the game of football, in addition to being officially declared football ambassador of the world by FIFA and a national treasure by the Brazilian government. He is also acknowledged for his vocal support of policies to improve the social conditions of the poor (when he scored his 1,000th goal he dedicated it to the poor children of Brazil).
During his career, he became known as “The King of Football” (O Rei do Futebol), “The King Pelé” (O Rei Pelé) or simply “The King” (O Rei). He is also a member of the American National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Spotted by football star Waldemar de Brito, Pelé began playing for Santos at 15 and his national team at 16, and won his first World Cup at 17. Despite numerous offers from European clubs, the economic conditions and Brazilian football regulations at the time benefited Santos, thus enabling them to keep Pelé for almost two decades until 1974. Pelé played as an inside forward, striker, and what later became known as the playmaker position. Pelé’s technique and natural athleticism have been universally praised and during his playing years he was renowned for his excellent dribbling and passing, his pace, powerful shot, exceptional heading ability, and prolific goalscoring.
He is the all-time leading scorer of the Brazil national football team and is the only footballer to be a part of three World Cup-winning teams. In 1962 he was on the Brazilian squad at the start of the World Cup but due to an injury suffered in the second match, he wasn’t able to play the remainder of the tournament. In November 2007 FIFA announced that he would be awarded the 1962 medal retroactively, making him the only player in the world to have three World Cup winning medals.
Since his retirement in 1977, Pelé has been a worldwide ambassador for football and has undertaken various acting roles and commercial ventures.
Full name: Edison Arantes do Nascimento
Date of birth: 23 October 1940
Place of birth: Três Corações, Brazil
Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Playing position: Forward
1975–1977: New York Cosmos