The football world celebrates the 80th birthday of one of its true sons, Edson Arantes do Nacimento (Pele) this weekend.
Pele who is regarded by many as the greatest footballer of all time was born on 23rd October, 1940 at Três Corações, Minas Gerais in Brazil.
His records in the game are astonishing and most of them have stood for over four decades to be broken. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have both worked very great to equal and even surpass some of Pele’s record which stood for decades.
He has been compared to other great footballers like Diego Maradona, Ronaldinho and Zinidine Zidane to ascertain who the greatest player is.
Pele was born to João Ramos do Nascimento and Celeste Arantes. Jao Ramos, his father was a footballer and inspired his son to become fall in love with the game. He was the eldest of two siblings and was named after American inventor Thomas Edison.
The famous name Pele came about when he had difficulty pronouncing the name of his favorite player and Vasco da Gama goalkeeper Bilé, but the more he complained the more it stuck. Bile is a Hebrew word which means miracle.
The great footballer has been married three times. His first wife was Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi with whom he had three kids; Two daughters and a son. They married in February 1966 and divorced in 1982.
In 1996, the legend went on to marry psychologist and gospel singer Assíria Lemos Seixas who bore him a set of twins; Joshua and Celeste through fertility treatments. The couple divorced in 2008. His third wife is Marcia Aoki, a Japanese-Brazilian. He married her in July 2016.
Edson is on record to have fathered other children outside his recognized marriages. It is on record that he has seven children in all.
He played for several amateur teams in his youth, including Sete de Setembro, Canto do Rio, São Paulinho, and Amériquinha
Pele started playing professional football at a tender age of fifteen for Santos FC in Brazil. He played for the club of his life for over a decade; 1956 to 1974.
He scored 504 goals in 496 official matches for the club. In total he played 656 matches and registered 643 goals in his name. He won the Copa Libertedores with Santos in 1962 and 1963 respectively as well as the Intercontinental cup in those two years.
The King of football won six league trophies with Santos between 1961 and 1968.
Edson do Nacimento signed for New York Cosmos in USA in 1975 after returning from a partial retirement. He scored 64 goals in 107 matches for Cosmos in a two year period. Cosmos registered two titles with Pele’s presence.
The Selecao of Brazil cemented their place as the household name in world football thanks to Pele and his exploits at the world stage.
Pele started making appearance for the National team at the age of sixteen. He scored on his debut appearance for the National Team in a match they lost 2-1 to arch rivals Argentina.
He was sixteen years and months making him the youngest player to play for Brazil, a record he still holds till now.
Pele would go on to play for Brazil in the 1958 FIFA World Cup aged seventeen years, five hundred and forty nine days. He scored two goals in the final to help the Selecao win the World Cup in Sweden. He would go on to be the youngest player to score in a world cup final.
The press proclaimed Pelé the greatest revelation of the 1958 World Cup, and he was also retroactively given the Silver Ball as the second best player of the tournament, behind Didi.
The greatest striker helped his national team win the 1962 and 1970 FIFA World Cups. He got injured in the second game after attempting a long range shot against Czeckslovakia and subsequently getting sidelined for the rest of the matches.
The 1970 tournament saw Brazil parading five fearsome players. Jairzinho, Pelé, Gerson, Tostão and Rivelino. Pele was fulcrum of the fearsome five.
Recognition and Achievement
In January 2014, Pelé was awarded the first ever FIFA Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur as an acknowledgment from the world governing body of the sport for his contribution to world football.
According to the RSSSF, Pelé is one of the most successful goal-scorers in the world, scoring 541 league goals in 560 games (IFFHS recognized them as top division in 2006), a total of 767 in 831 official games and a grand total of 1281 goals in 1367 appearances during his professional senior career, which included friendlies and tour games. He’s ranked the third leading scorer in football history in both official and total matches.
After his retirement in 1977 he played eight exhibition games and scored three goals.
On 1 October 1977, Pelé closed out his career in an exhibition match between the Cosmos and Santos. The match was played in front of a sold-out crowd at Giants Stadium