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Pele, The 'Black Pearl' of Brazil

Pele's Famous Bike Kick

Pele's Famous Bike Kick

Quote From Pele

Quote From Pele

Pele's Early Life

Born in poverty on 23 October 1940 in the town of Tres Coracoes, Brazil, to Dondinho and Celeste Nascimento and named after Thomas Edison. His parents dropped the 'i' and named him Edson, although a mistake was made on his birth certificate, leaving the 'i' in his name, creating some legal problems.

Pele earned extra money shining shoes and working in a tea shop to help his family. Then, he began playing Brazilian football or soccer in his neighborhood using a grapefruit or a rolled-up sock stuffed with newspapers and tied with strings. The team neighborhood became known as the 'shoeless ones.'

While playing for an amateur team coached by Waldermar de Brito, who saw the potential of Pele, Brito urged him to try out for Santos FC, telling the directors Pele would be 'the greatest in the world.'

Pele's career started in 1956 at the age of fifteen, playing for Santos FC and in the following year was the top scorer in the league. The Brazilian team called Pele up to prepare for the 1958 World Cup to be played in Sweden. In the games, Pele scored two of the five goals. Pele became famous for his 'bicycle kick,' which was a mid-air acrobatic strike at the goal.

Pele Poetry in Motion

Pele Poetry in Motion

Facts About Pele

Pele's achievements:

  • 1954 first time he played in World Cup and was the youngest player
  • 1961 Declared "official National Treasure" by Brazil's President
  • 1967 a cease-fire was declared in Nigeria, so the Federals and Rebels could watch Pele play.
  • 1969 Pele scored his 1000th goal before a crowd of 100,000 in Rio de Janerio
  • 1992 Appointed UN Ambassador for ecology and environment
  • 1993 Inducted into National Soccer Hall of Fame
  • 1995 Appointed Minister of Sports for Brazil
  • 1997 Received honorary British Knighthood
  • 1999 Voted Athlete of the Century by the Olympics Committee
  • 2001 Named Player of the Century along with Diego Maradona by the Federation International Football Association )FIFA)
  • 2012 Received an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh

Pele would go on to win three World Cups, 1958, 1962, and 1970.


What Others Said of Pele

All over the world, Pele was found to be charismatic and humble, and the following are of some who thought of Pele and are quoted as saying:

Nelson Mandela "To watch him play was to watch the delight of a child combined with the extraordinary grace of a man in flight."

Andy Warhol, "I told myself before the game. "He's made of skin and bones just like everyone else. But, I was wrong."

Paulo Cezar Cajo "The moment the ball arrived at Pele's feet, the football transformed into poetry."

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Mick Jagger "For Brazilians speaking about Pele is speaking about an entity, about something superior to everyone."

U.S. Ambassador JB Pinheiro "Pele played football for 22 years and in that time did more to promote world friendships and fraternity than any other ambassador."

Pele's Personal Life

Everywhere Pele went, he was mobbed by everyone, particularly women. He was married three times and had countless affairs admitting he was a notorious flirt. Pele has seven children that he acknowledges.

Upon his retirement, the North American Soccer League NASL recruited him immediately to gain support for global soccer. In 1977, he played his final game, an expedition game between NASL's New York Cosmas and his former team, Santos FC. He played the first half of the game with Cosmos and the second half with Santos. In his lifetime, Pele scored 1,283 goals setting a record.

Time was catching up with Pele, and in 1977 he had a kidney removed, a hip replaced in 2012, and a couple of urinary tract infections.

Today, Pele lives in an ocean-front mansion in San Paulo, Brazil with his third wife, Marcia Aoki. There was no greater player than Pele, the 'Black Pearl."

Pele Museum

Pele Museum

1969 Brazil Stamp

1969 Brazil Stamp

Pele 1963

Pele 1963


Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 14, 2021:

I liked reading this interesting article, Fran. I knew of Pele, but I didn't know all of this information about his life. Thanks for sharing it, Fran.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on July 13, 2021:

John, thanks for your visit. Pele will never be forgotten, as he was one of a kind.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on July 13, 2021:

Rosina, thank you for your kind comments. I appreciate your visit.

Rosina S Khan on July 13, 2021:

This is a wonderful account of Pele, the famous soccer player. He has so many achievements and has won three world cups. No wonder he is the "Black Pearl of Brazil". Thank you for sharing such an intriguing article, Fran.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 13, 2021:

What am interesting article, Fran? Pele was certainly a great soccer icon. It is good to know he is still living. Thank you for sharing.

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