Pelé is one of the first soccer players to achieve massive global acclaim. His name is regularly mentioned today, more than a quarter century after his retirement. Pelé started playing football as a boy in the slums of Tres Coracoes, Brazil. His father, Dondinho, was instrumental in his son’s success. Dondinho was a former footballer and made sure to pass over his knowledge to the young Pelé. It worked and by the age of 15, Pelé was signed by Santos. Pelé’s international debut followed just a year later (1957) against Argentina.

Merely at the age of 17, Pelé was recruited to Brazil’s 1958 World Cup squad. In the World Cup, he attracted attention by scoring the goal against Wales that clinched Brazil to the next round. Pelé proved that it wasn’t a fluke in the following match by scoring a hat-trick versus France. Two more goals in the final ascertained his status as a soccer superstar. On the club level, Pelé’s sensational scoring, earned his club Santos the Intercontinental Cup in 1962 and 1963.

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Although Brazil won the 1962 World Cup in Chile, Pelé missed most of the tournament due to an injury. In the following 1966 World Cup, Pelé was once again forced to leave the pitch after being ferociously tackled. Many began to question Pelé and his superstar status, until his triumphant return in the 1970 World Cup, when he dazzled audiences worldwide. This was the first World Cup broadcast in color across an unprecedented number of countries. In front of over 100,000 live spectators in Azteca Stadium, Mexico and millions of TV viewers, Pelé scored the first goal of the final against Italy. His goal opened the floodgates to Brazil’s crushing 4-1 victory and reclaimed Pelé as “The King”.

In the 1970’s, Pelé signed with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. Pelé eventually retired as the only player with over 1000 goals in professional football.

Name Edson Arantes do Nascimento
Starting Number #10
Born 23 October 1940 in Tres Coracoes, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Height 172 cm / 5 feet 7 inches
Weight 67 kg / 150 pounds
Foot Right
Teams Santos (Brazil)
New York Cosmos (USA)
Nicknames The King
Skills Dribbling, finishing