Pele and 20 Things You May Not Know About Him

From the Culturetainment Blog

After Brazil lost in the 1950 World Cup final to Uruguay, a 9-year-old Edson Arantes do Nascimento, now better known as Pelé, made a promise to his devastated father. “I remember jokingly saying to him: ‘Don’t cry, dad — I’ll win the World Cup for you,” Pelé recalled to in 2014. Eight years  later in 1958 Pele’s joke became a reality when he won the first of his record-breaking three World Cup titles.


Thus began Pelé's amazing career. By the time he played his final professional game in 1977, he’d netted over 1,280 career goals as part of Brazil’s Santos Football Club and the New York Cosmos. Although he’s now widely considered to be the greatest soccer player of all time, here are 20 things you might not know about Pelé:


  • At 17, Pele became the youngest ever winner of a World Cup. He also scored twice in the final against home side Sweden.
  • Pele was appointed as Minister of Sport in Brazil in 1995, serving until 1998.
  • He was voted athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1999.
  • In 1997, Pele was given an honorary British Knighthood.
  • On November 19, 1969, Pele scored his 1000th career goal. Hundreds raced onto the pitch to mob the Brazilian star and it took over 30 minutes for the game to resume.
  • At Santos, November 19 is known as 'Pele Day' to celebrate the anniversary of his 1,000th goal.
  • Pele is fifth on the all-time World Cup goal scorers list with 12 - and the second highest-placed Brazilian behind Ronaldo.
  • When Pele retired, J.B. Pinheiro, the Brazilian ambassador to the United Nations, said: "Pele played football for 22 years, and in that time he did more to promote world friendship and fraternity than any other ambassador anywhere."
  • In 1967, a 48-hour ceasefire was declared in Nigeria so that Federal and Rebel troops could watch Pele play on a visit to the war-torn nation.
  • Pele said in 2006: "For 20 years they have asked me the same question, who is the greatest? Pele or Maradona? I reply that all you have to do is look at the facts - how many goals did he score with his right foot or with his head?"
  • When Pele played for the New York ,so many of his opponents wanted to swap shirts with him that the club had to give each of their opponents a shirt after every match. "Pele was the main attraction," says Gordon Bradley, one of the club's coaches at the time. "Sometimes we had to take 25 or 30 shirts with us to a match - otherwise, we'd never have got out of the stadium alive."
  • Pele on the importance of football stars: "When football stars disappear, so do the teams, and that is a very curious phenomenon. It is like in the theatre, in a play, where there is a great star. If the star is not well, the whole cast suffers."
  • Pele has helped raise millions of dollars for charitable causes including Great Ormond Street and Harlem Street Soccer.
  • "How do you spell Pelé?" the Times of London once declared. "G-O-D".
  • Pele and Maradona are hardly friends. In 2010, Pele said of the Argentinian: “He is not a good example for the youth. He had the God-given gift of being able to play football, and that is why he is lucky." Maradona's response: “Who cares what Pele says? He belongs in a museum.”
  • His family gave him the nick-name "Dico". He did not get the nickname Pele until he started school, where he used to pronounce the name of the local Vasco da Gama goalkeeper Bile as Pile. Hence, a classmate of his gave him the nickname Pele.
  • Pele's father once scored five headed goals in one game, a feat that Pele was never able to replicate. The most headers Pele ever scored in a game was four.
  • Since April 1994 Pelé has been married to psychologist and gospel singer Assíria Lemos Seixas.
  • Pele on being a role-model: "Every kid around the world who plays soccer wants to be Pele. I have a great responsibility to show them not just how to be like a soccer player, but how to be like a man."
  • Pele on success: "Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do."

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