Pelé Bio And Facts



There can’t be a discussion about who is the best soccer player ever without Pelé's name being brought up. The Brazilian attacker has made his mark by being a scoring machine who produced incredible highlights, with a remarkably victorious career that spanned from the mid 1950s to the late 1970s.

At a time where it was uncommon for South American players to play abroad, Pelé played most of his career for the Brazilian team Santos. During the 1960s Santos' squad, of which Pelé was the central piece and star, won everything in the regional, national, and continental levels. The team is still known as one of the best squads in Brazilian soccer. Nonetheless, what made Pelé globally famous was his play for Brazil's National Soccer Team, with whom he won three World Cups out of Brazil's five overall. Pelé also played a big role in popularizing soccer in the United States, moving to the NY Cosmos toward the end of his career.

To this day, Pelé is known for his accomplishments from over 50 years ago; his name and his brand go beyond just soccer. He is unquestionably one of the best athletes ever.

  • Birthdate: October 23rd, 1940 (10-23-1940)
  • Net Worth: $100 million
  • Occupation: Former Soccer Player
  • Height: 5 foot 8 inch (173 centimeters)
  • Weight: 161 lbs (73 kilograms)
  • Position: Forward, Striker
  • Years Active: 20 years (1957-1977)
  • Career Wins: 3 World Cups, 2 Copa Libertadores, 6 Brazilian Leagues
  • Nicknames: Pelé, O Rei (The King), Black Pearl
  • Teams: Santos, Brazil, NY Cosmos

Soccer Career

Pelé began his professional career playing for Brazilian club Santos at the age of 16. While in Brazil, Pelé's potential was well-known. The rest of the world got introduced to the "King of Soccer" during the 1958 World Cup when he was only 17. While only making his global debut in the third match played by Brazil, Pelé showed up by scoring six goals in four matches and led Brazil to its first World Cup title.

By the next World Cup in 1962, he was unquestionably the best player in the world and had already won two Brazilian Leagues and one Copa Libertadores. Pelé helped Brazil achieve another win in 1962, but got injured early in the tournament and only played two games.

It was in 1970 when both Pelé and Brazil would have their most memorable World Cup. The 1970 Brazil squad had some kind of magic that captivated people, and they are widely regarded as the best and most dominant National Soccer Team of all time. Pelé and Brazil won their third World Cup in four cycles. He retired from Brazil's National Team only a year later, having only lost 11 out of 93 total games.

After unofficially retiring in 1974, Pelé signed a deal with the NY Cosmos for the 1975 season, which made him the highest paid athlete in the world at the time. Pelé and other senior soccer stars spent the tail end of their careers popularizing soccer in the United States. Pelé’s last game was in 1977, in a friendly matchup between the Cosmos and Santos. Pelé played one half on each side. 

Titles and Awards

As one of the all time best soccer players, it is natural that Pelé has won many trophies and individual awards during his career. In fact, he won a World Cup just two years into his career; he was the youngest athlete to score in a World Cup final and to win a World Cup. Pelé also has a total of three FIFA World Cup wins, more than any other player in the history of the tournament.

For his club Pelé won over 20 trophies with Santos, the most victorious period in the team's long history. Pelé was also successful during his short time with the Cosmos, winning one NASL Soccer Bowl.

Pelé has also won many individual awards. In addition to having several top scorer trophies, he was presented with various MVP awards such as the FIFA Athlete of the Century and the Olympic Order by the IOC. Notably, Pelé never won a Ballon D'Or, which rewards the best soccer player in the world during the year. During his career, only European players could win the Ballon D'Or. As a Brazilian, he was thus ineligible. Nonetheless, Pelé was awarded an honorary Ballon D'Or by FIFA in 2014.

Personal Life

Pelé was born in Tres Coraçoes, a small town in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. His father was also a soccer player. Pelé’s birth name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, but he got his famous nickname from watching one of his dad's soccer games. The team's goalkeeper, who was called "Bilé," was young Edson's favorite player. The child could not really say Bilé but would call him "Pilé" instead. Edson started being called Pilé by his family, which evolved into Pelé, the name the world would come to know. 

Pelé has been married three times and has 8 children. One of his sons even followed in his father's footsteps and was a goalkeeper for Santos during the 1990s. 

Today, Pelé is not the young man he once was. He has difficulty moving due to a hip replacement, and thus spends more time sitting in a wheelchair. That doesn't stop him from doing commercials and appearances every once in a while, in addition to taking care of his many businesses and brand deals.

Fun Facts

  • Pelé has a museum dedicated to his life and career, the Pelé Museum. It is located in Santos, the city in which he played for most of his career. 
  • Pelé has a huge store in New York City's Times Square, which sells many soccer related items, including jerseys from all over the world.
  • Pelé was Brazil's Minister of Sports for three years. During his time the "Pelé Law" was approved, which brought more incentives and transparency to federal money spent in sports.
  • At age 18, after winning the World Cup in 1958 and gaining global popularity, Pelé had to pause his career to serve in the Brazilian Army for six months.
  • Pelé is often referred to as "the man who stopped a war." Legend says that Santos went on an excursion to Africa, playing in Nigeria, which was going through a bloody civil war. Both sides had a three-day ceasefire, so that they could see "Pelé's team" play. 
  • In addition to his soccer talent, Pelé is also musically talented. He has written and sung songs with celebrated Brazilian singer Elis Regina.
  • Throughout many renovations in its stadium, Pelé's original team Santos has kept the King's locker in the locker room untouched. Only Pelé has the key to it, and the locker has never been opened since Pelé himself closed it, and he won't tell anyone what is inside. The locker can be seen when touring the stadium.


How many goals has Pelé scored?

Pelé scored 1,283 goals throughout his career. However, many of those came in friendlies and in less important matches. Nonetheless, Pelé played in different times, where friendlies were more common, teams didn't have schedules as busy as they do today. In official matches, he has 757 in 812 matches.

Is Pelé the best soccer player ever?

It is impossible to pinpoint the actual best soccer player ever, but many claim Pelé deserves the title. He was a phenomenal leader for his two soccer clubs and won the most FIFA World Cup titles of any player in the sport’s history. While Maradona or Cristiano Ronaldo are two of several intense competitors for the unofficial title, Pelé is certainly one of the best athletes to ever play professional soccer.

Are Pelé and Maradona rivals?

The answer is both yes and no. They never played against each other, Pelé retired in 1977 and Maradona started his career in 1976. They also don't dislike each other; Pelé even appeared in Maradona's TV Show in 2005. However, the dispute over who is the actual greatest player ever mixes with the soccer rivalry between Brazil and Argentina, which generates some kind of rivalry between both soccer geniuses.

Is Pelé's jersey number retired?

Throughout his whole career Pelé wore the number 10 jersey in soccer for every team he played for. It is not part of soccer's traditions to retire jersey numbers, so Pelé's number 10 is not retired by Santos nor Brazil. However, the number 10 jersey is retired for the NY Cosmos, as it is part of American sports culture to do so.