Pele Biography

(One of the Greatest Football Players of All Time)

Birthday: October 23, 1940 (Libra)

Born In: Tres Coracoes, Brazil

Pele was a legendary sporting figure and an iconic soccer player who during his active years ruled the game to the point of being called the ‘King of Football’. He is widely regarded by football fans, critics, experts, and players (current and retired) as the best player of all time. With his impeccable style, electrifying play, and impressive performance, he scored a total of 1279 goals in 1363 games. It was his deep-embedded penchant for the game and knack for scoring spectacular goals that made him a star around the world. He was praised for his exceptional heading ability, powerful shot, and unbowed goal-scoring. A Brazilian national team footballer and key player for the Santos club, he played a major role in every game he played. While on the field, he gave his hundred percent to every match and played like an unbeaten pro since his very first professional game. Over his career that spanned a little over two decades, he showcased some incredible performances and catapulted the popularity of the game astronomically. Other than his spectacular showmanship on the field, Pele was regarded as the ultimate humanitarian as well, for he raised his voice to enhance the living standard and social conditions of the poor, a number of times.

Quick Facts

Nick Name: The King

Also Known As: Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele

Age: 83 Years, 83 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Assíria Lemos Seixas (m. 1994–2008), Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi (m. 1966–1982)

father: Dondinho

mother: Dona Celeste Arantes

children: Celeste Nascimento, Edson Cholbi Nascimento, Flávia Christina Kurtz Nascimento, Jennifer Nascimento, Joshua Nascimento, Kelly Cristina Nascimento, Sandra Regina Arantes do Nascimento

Born Country: Brazil

Football Players Brazilian Men

More Facts

awards: 1995 - Brazil's Gold Medal for outstanding services to the sport

Childhood & Early Life

Pele was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento to Dondinho and Dona Celeste Arantes. He was the first child of the couple. He grew up with a younger brother named Zoca. His father was also a soccer player.

Originally nicknamed Dico, his friends started calling him Pele after his favorite football player Vasco da Gama ‘Bile’, whom he mispronounced as ‘Pele.’

Struck by poverty, he took up various odd jobs as a child to earn extra money. He received his early lessons in soccer from his father and played for various amateur teams in his youth.

Blessed with a talent for the game and a style of his own, he found himself a place at the Bauru Athletic Club juniors, which was coached by Waldemar de Brito. He led the team to three consecutive victories from 1954 to 1956. Additionally, he won several local indoor football competitions and championships.

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Convinced of the phenomenal talent that he possessed, football star de Brito took Pele to Santos where he was inducted into the professional club, Santos FC. Pele signed a contract in June 1956 and played his first professional game in September. In the game, he scored his first professional goal against Corinthians Santo Andre.

By early 1957, he became a regular in the team and no sooner, the top scorer of the league. It was his remarkable performance that earned him a place in the national team of Brazil.

He played his first international game in July 1957 against Argentina. Though Brazil lost the match by 2-1, he scored his first international goal, thus becoming the youngest player ever to score in international football.

The year 1958 was a year of accomplishments. Not only did he help Santos register a win at the Campeonato Paulista—a top-flight professional football league in Brazil—with 58 goals, a feat unmatched to date, but he was also part of the Brazilian team which won the World Cup.

Pele made significant contributions in the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals of the 1958 World Cup and scored a total of six goals in four matches. He broke a number of records in the 1958 World Cup.

His dream run of success was shortly halted as Santos lost their Paulista title in 1959, but continued with full force in 1960 as he displayed extraordinary performance on the field thereby helping Santos regain the title. The club won the Taça Brasil with him as the top scorer. It was these wins that helped Santos play Copa Libertadores, South America's premier club football tournament.

The year 1962 was the best club year of his career as he not only guided Santos in the Copa Libertadores competition to record a thrilling victory but helped the club register wins at the Campeonato Brasileiro, Taça Brasil, and 1962 Intercontinental Cup.

As for the 1962 World Cup, despite much hype and hoopla, injury took the better of him as he remained out for most of the tournament.

The year 1963 replicated the success of the previous year as Santos became the successful defending champion of the Copa Libertadores. Though the club was unable to regain the Paulista trophy, it recorded a victory at the Rio-São Paulo tournament, Intercontinental Cup, and the Taça Brasil.

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Post the wins recorded in 1964 and 1965, the club’s steep climb upward rebounded and so did his contribution to the club. Though the club won the Paulista trophy for three consecutive years, Pele was not a major contributor to the fare.

The 1966 World Cup brought much pain for Pele as he was injured due to the persistent fouling by the Bulgarians. The result was Brazil’s exit from the World Cup after the first round.

He scored his 1000th goal against Vasco da Gama from a penalty kick at the Maracana Stadium in 1969. He dedicated his goal to Brazil’s poor children.

The 1970 World Cup was the last World Cup in which Pele participated. He played in all the qualifying matches and contributed 14 of the 19 goals that Brazil struck in the tournament. Brazil won the World Cup and Pele was named ‘Player of the Tournament’ for his impressive performance and extensive contribution.

Pele’s last international match was against Yugoslavia on July 18, 1971, in Rio de Janeiro. As for his club years, the 1974 season was the 19th and last season that he played for Santos before retiring.

In 1976, he emerged from semi-retirement by signing a contract with New York Cosmos. He led the club to the 1977 NASL championship in his final season with the club.

Officially his last game was on October 1, 1977, an exhibition match between Cosmos and Santos. He played the first half for the Cosmos and the second half for Santos. His last official goal was a direct free kick against Santos in the first half-time. Cosmos won the match, 2-1.

Post his hugely successful soccer career, he was appointed as a UN ambassador for ecology and the environment in 1992.

In 1995, he was appointed as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

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Awards & Achievements

For his impressive line-up of victories and his extraordinary role in catapulting the status of the sport to newer heights, he received numerous prestigious honors and decorations including Brazil's Gold Medal, Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and Lifetime Achievement Award from BBC.

The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) voted him as the Football Player of the Century in 1999. Additionally, he was elected as the ‘Athlete of the Century’ by the International Olympic Committee and Reuters News Agency.

In 2010, he was appointed as the Honorary President of New York Cosmos. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh for ‘significant contribution to humanitarian and environmental causes, as well as his sporting achievements’.

Family & Personal Life

Pele's first marriage was with Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi in 1966. The couple was blessed with two daughters. They divorced in 1982.

From 1981 to 1986, he was romantically involved with Xuxa, whom he aided to become a model. Xuxa was only 17 years old when they started to date.

In 1994, he married psychologist and gospel singer Assíria Lemos Seixas. She gave birth to twins, Joshua and Celeste. The couple later separated.

Pele died of Colon Cancer on 29 December 2022, at the age of 82, in São Paulo, Brazil. A grand funeral was organized to lay the legend to rest.


In his early days, Pele could not afford a proper football and usually played with a sock stuffed with newspaper, tied with a string, or a grapefruit.

Pele became the youngest-ever soccer player to score a World Cup goal when he scored a goal against Wales in the 1958 World Cup. He was 17 years and 239 days old at that time.

He also holds the record of becoming the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the World Cup

Pele was also the youngest football player to play in a World Cup final match.

See the events in life of Pele in Chronological Order

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