Pele is the most iconic football player of the 20th Century. He epitomized the joy and passion that the Brazilians bought to the sport of football.
Born on 23 October 1940 in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil and named Edson Arantes do Nascimento, he was named after the American inventor Thomas Edison. He gained a nickname ‘Pele’ in his childhood, after he mispronounced the name of a goalkeeper ‘Bile’.
Having grew up in poverty in São Paulo, Pele was taught to play football by his father but he often had to practice with a sock stuffed with newspapers since he couldn’t afford to buy a football. He also worked as a waiter in local tea shops.
When he was young, Pele played in indoor leagues, which helped increase his speed of reactions. He developed through the youth leagues. When he was 15 years old, he was signed by Santos FC and was soon marked out as a future star. Before he turned 16, Pele was the top scorer in the Brazilian league. So, he received a call up for the Brazilian national team. The Brazilian President declared him a national treasure in order to prevent him being bought by foreign sides such as Manchester United.
Pele scored more than 1,000 goals in professional games. On November 19th, 1969, Pele scored his 1000th goal at Vasco da Gama in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium, which sparked worldwide celebrations. His strike rate in international matches was one of the highest. In view of 92 countries, he scored 77 goals. In all games, Pele scored 1,283 goals in 1,366 games, an average of 0.94.
In the domestic league, Pele played for the first time for Santos at just 16 years old. He played for Santos in the Brazilian league from the 1972-73 season.
Pele finished his career in the most lucrative US league. In 1975, he signed for the New York Cosmos and played with them three seasons. He led the team to the US title in 1977 – the year of his retirement.