This week’s open threads have focused on influential Afro-Latino people. Today thread will highlight Pele’s life.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento better known as Pelé , born 21 October 1940 – however, Pelé himself claims that he was born on 23 October), is a retired Brazilian footballer. He is regarded by many experts, football critics, former players, current players and football fans in general as the best player of all time. In 1999, he was voted Football Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS).In the same year French weekly magazine France Football consulted their former Ballon D’or winners to elect the Football Player of the Century. Pelé came in first place. Pelé was elected “Athlete of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee and Reuters News Agency in 1999, and by French newspaper L’Équipe in 1981. During his playing days Pelé was for a period the best paid athlete in the world.] According to the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) he is the most successful league goal scorer in the world, with 541 league goals. In total Pelé scored 1281 goals in 1363 games. In his native Brazil, Pelé is hailed as a national hero. He is known for his accomplishments and contributions to the game of football.He is also acknowledged for his vocal support of policies to improve the social conditions of the poor (when he scored his 1,000th goal he dedicated it to the poor children of Brazil). During his career, he became known as “The Black Pearl” (Pérola Negra), “The King of Football” (O Rei do Futebol), “The King Pelé” (O Rei Pelé) or simply “The King” (O Rei).
He was trained since birth to become great by his father, mentor and former footballer (who was the top scorer in every season he played for, for every team) Dondinho. Later spotted, at Bauru Atlético Clube, by football star Waldemar de Brito, Pelé began playing for Santos at 15 and his national team at 16, and won his first World Cup at 17. Despite numerous offers from European clubs, he could not leave Brazil because of a law keeping him there. In 1961 President Janio Quadros had Pelé declared a national treasure,thus enabling Santos to keep Pelé for almost two decades until 1974. With Pelé within their ranks, Santos reached their zenith by winning the 1962 and 1963 Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious club competition in South American football. In 1962 Santos became the first football club ever to win four out of four competitions in a single year, thus achieving the quadruple.Pelé’s electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals made him a star around the world. His team Santos toured internationally in order to take full advantage of his popularity. Pelé played most of his career as a deep-lying forward. Pelé’s technique and natural athleticism have been universally praised and during his playing years he was renowned for his excellent dribbling and passing, his pace, powerful shot, exceptional heading ability, and prolific goalscoring.
He is the all-time leading scorer of the Brazil national football team and is the only footballer to be a part of three World Cup-winning squads. In 1962, his second World Cup victory, he was on the Brazilian squad at the start of the World Cup but because of an injury suffered in the second match, he was not able to play the remainder of the tournament. In November 2007, FIFA announced that he would be awarded the 1962 medal retroactively, making him the only player in the world to have three World Cup winning medals.
Since his retirement in 1977, Pelé has been a worldwide ambassador for football and has undertaken various acting roles and commercial ventures. He is currently the Honorary President of the New York Cosmos.
Pelé was born in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil, the son of Fluminense footballer Dondinho (born João Ramos do Nascimento) and Dona Celeste Arantes. He was the oldest of two siblings.He was named after the American inventor Thomas Edison. However, his parents decided to remove the ‘i’ and call him ‘Edson’, but there was a mistake on the birth certificate, leading many documents to show his name as ‘Edison’, not ‘Edson’, as he is actually called. He did not receive the nickname “Pelé” until his school days. Pelé grew up in poverty in Bauru, São Paulo. He earned extra money by working in tea shops as a servant. Taught to play by his father, he could not afford a proper football and usually played with either a sock stuffed with newspaper, tied with a string or a grapefruit.Pelé played for several amateur teams in his youth.
Pele had a storied football career in Bauru. He led Bauru Athletic Club juniors (coached by Waldemar de Brito) to three consecutive São Paulo state youth championships between 1954 and 1956. He also dominated Futebol de Salão (indoor football) competitions in the region and won several championships with local team Radium. After the 1974 season (his 19th with Santos), Pelé retired from Brazilian club football although he continued to occasionally suit up for Santos in official competitive matches. Two years later, he came out of semi-retirement to sign with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League (NASL) for the 1975 season. Though well past his prime at this point, Pelé is credited with significantly increasing public awareness and interest in soccer in the United States. He led the Cosmos to the 1977 NASL championship, in his third and final season with the club.
The most notable area of Pelé’s life since football is his ambassadorial work. In 1992, Pelé was appointed a UN ambassador for ecology and the environment.
Pelé has published several autobiographies, starred in documentary and semi-documentary films, and composed musical pieces, including the entire soundtrack for the film Pelé in 1977. He appeared, alongside other footballers of the 1960s and 1970s, with Michael Caine, and Sylvester Stallone, in the 1981 film Escape to Victory, about an attempted escape from a World War II German POW camp.
In 2009, he cooperated with Ubisoft on arcade football game Academy of Champions: Soccer for the Wii and appeared in the game as a coach to its players.
In August 2010, Pelé was introduced as the Honorary President of a revived New York Cosmos, aiming to field a team in Major League Soccer. In August 2011, it was reported that Santos were considering bringing him out of retirement for a cameo role in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, although these rumors later turned out to be false.
In 2012, Pelé was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh for “significant contribution to humanitarian and environmental causes, as well as his sporting achievements”, his first such degree from a European university.