Pelé's real name is Edson Arantes Do Nascimento. He is a legend and the best soccer player in the world. His family was very poor and they lived in Tres Coracos, Brazil. During his childhood days, his parents, Dondinho and Celeste, called him "Dico".
He grew up with soccer as his father was a good soccer player until his career stopped because of a leg injury. During his teenage years, Pelé began playing soccer for a local minor-league club. During the time he wasn't playing soccer he shined shoes for pennies. When he was 11 years old, he was discovered by Waldemar de Brito, one of the country's most important players. Brito told everyone, that Pelé would become the best player in the world!
Things started great as from the beginning of his career; on his first appearance for the team, against Corinthians F.C., he scored a goal right away. He was only 16.
Pelé was the star in four World Cups with Brazil's National Team. At the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, which he almost missed because of a knee injury, Pelé stunned the world scoring six goals, including two in the championship game to help Brazil win its first World Cup 5-2 over Sweden. He was only 17 years-old.
This amazing soccer player was blessed with speed, great balance, tremendous vision, the ability to control the ball superbly and the ability to shoot powerfully and accurately with either foot and with his head.
Four years later he played on Brazil's World Cup team at in the finals in Chile, but an injury suffered in the first game of the tournament prevented him from helping Brazil win its second title.
Many European soccer clubs offered high fees to assign the young player, but the government of Brazil declared Pelé an official national treasure to prevent him from being transferred out of the country.
At the 1970 finals in Mexico, the 29-year-old Pelé, led one of the greatest teams ever assembled to win Brazil's third World Cup. In the 4-1 title triumph over Italy, Pelé, scored a glorious goal. It was Brazil's 100th World Cup goal, and the one he remembers the most.
Pelé's statistics are incredible. During his career he scored 1,280 goals in 1,360 games. He scored an average of a goal in every international game he played.
At the club level he shattered records in Brazil. He scored 127 goals for Santos F.C. in 1959, 110 in 1961 and 101 goals in 1965, and led the club to two World Club championships.
Pelé also holds the world record for hat tricks (92) and the number of goals scored on the international level (97). His statistics are all the more amazing when compared to today's top players who can barely score more than 30 goals in a season.
He decided to retire in 1974, but came back the following year to play in the North American Soccer League for the New York Cosmos for just over two seasons. A reported 7-million-dollar contract for three years made him the highest paid soccer player of the North American Soccer League. He said he came out of retirement, not for the money, but to "make soccer truly popular in the United States."
In many ways, Pelé was the complete athlete. With his skill and agility, he could have played in any position on the field, but he chose on wearing the number-10 shirt as an inside-left forward. He had great balance, which enabled him to dribble effortlessly around defenders, and his heading ability was remarkable.
On October 1, 1977, Pelé's mission in the NASL ended. His last match, an exhibition game between the Cosmos and Santos, was sold out six weeks beforehand, covered by 650 journalists and broadcast in 38 nations.
Muhammad Ali embraced him in the locker room before the match and said, "Now there are two of the greatest." In a speech to dignitaries, celebrities and more than 75,000 fans, Pelé urged his audience to pay attention to the children of the world. At his request, the assemblage shouted, "Love! Love! Love!" Then he went out and played the first half for the Cosmos; scoring a goal on a rocket from 30 yards out, and the second half for Santos.
In addition to his great accomplishments in soccer, he published several best-selling autobiographies, starred in several documentary and semi-documentary films, and composed numerous musical pieces, including the entire sound track for the film 'Pelé' (1977). He was the 1978 recipient of the International Peace Award, and in 1980 he was named athlete of the century.
In 1993, Pelé was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame and is the former ambassador of sports in Brazil. He has also done extensive work for children's causes through UNICEF.
In 2000, Pelé was named second for the "Sportsman of the Century" award. The legendary Muhammad Ali got the honors.