Joe Biden meeting Pelé at the 2010 World Cup. Photo: David Lienemann, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known by his nickname “Pelé,” is a Brazilian retired professional soccer player widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He is the all-time leading scorer for the Brazil national team, with 77 goals in 92 appearances, and is the only player to have won the World Cup three times, in 1958, 1962, and 1970.
Pelé was born on October 23, 1940, in Três Corações, Brazil. He grew up in a poor neighborhood in Bauru, Sao Paulo, and began playing soccer at a young age. Pele’s talent was apparent from an early age, and he was signed by Santos FC, a professional soccer club in Brazil, at the age of 15.
Pelé made his professional debut for Santos in 1956 and quickly became a star player. He helped lead the team to numerous victories, including the Brazilian league title in 1958 and 1962 and the Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier club competition, in 1962 and 1963. Pele’s success at the club level attracted the attention of the Brazilian national team, and he was selected to play in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden at the age of 17.
Pelé’s performance in the 1958 World Cup was nothing short of extraordinary. He scored six goals in the tournament, including two in the final against Sweden, and was named the best young player of the tournament. Brazil went on to win the World Cup, and Pele’s star was firmly established on the global stage.
Pelé continued to play for Santos and the Brazilian national team throughout the 1960s, leading both teams to numerous victories. In 1962, he helped Brazil win the World Cup for a second time, scoring two goals in the final against Czechoslovakia. He also won the Ballon d’Or, given to the best player in Europe, in 1970 and 1971.
In addition to his success on the field, Pelé was also known for his sportsmanship and humility. He was admired by fans and fellow players alike for his gracious behavior and his commitment to fair play.
Pelé retired from professional soccer in 1977, but he remained active in the sport as a coach and ambassador. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1998 and was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1994.
Despite his numerous accolades and achievements, Pelé is perhaps best remembered for his sheer talent and ability on the field. His speed, skill, and scoring ability made him one of the most exciting and dominant players in the history of the game. He is widely considered to be the greatest soccer player of all time and his legacy in the sport will be remembered for generations to come.
Rest in Peace Pelé.