Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Honorary KBE, (born October 23, 1940), nicknamed Pele, is a former Brazilian footballФутболист Пеле/ Pele (soccer) player who won three World Cup medals and broke many records, also known as O Rei (The King) and Perola Negra (The Black Pearl).
Often considered the complete midfield and attacking player, he was completely two-footed, a prolific clinical finisher, exceptional at dribbling and passing, and was a remarkably good tackler for a forward. He was famed for his speed and kicking strength and scored 1,281 goals over the course of his career. Since his full retirement in 1977 he has served as an ambassador for the sport.
He was born in Tres Coracoes, Minas Gerais, Brazil, the son of Fluminense Football Club footballer Joao Ramos do Nascimento, also known as Dondinho. He was named after American inventor Thomas Edison, and did not receive the nickname “Pele” 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, Sao Paulo, 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, Pele was scouted by Brazilian legend Waldemar de Brito and was invited to join de Brito’s amateur team, Clube Atletico Bauru. In 1956, Pele’s mentor took him to the city of Sao Paulo, to try out for professional club Santos Futebol Clube. De Brito told the directors at Santos that the 15-year-old would be “the greatest football player in the world.” Pele was offered professional terms and scored four goals in his first league game. When the new season started, Pele 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 Brazilian national team.
In the Football World Cup 1958, Pele became the youngest ever World Cup winner in Sweden at 17, scoring two goals in the final as Brazil beat 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 opposition players, the 1970 tournament in Mexico was to be Pele’s last. The 1970 team, featuring famous players like Rivelino, Jairzinho, Gerson, and Tostao, is often considered to be the greatest national team ever. Brazil defeated Italy 4-1 in the final, with Pele scoring one and setting up Carlos Alberto for another.
Pele’s technique and deft touch combined with his dribbling skills and scoring ability cannot be overstated. His most spectacular signature move was probably the “bicycle kick”. He scored over twelve hundred career goals in all competitions, the biggest haul by far among famous players. After his retirement from Brazilian football on 2 October, 1974, he joined the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. A reported $7,000,000 contract for three years made him the highest paid football player of the North American Soccer League.
During the three seasons playing for the Cosmos he was named in the annual NASL First Team: the 11 best players of a particular season.