Edison (Edson) Arantes do Nascimento, KBE, popularly known as Pele, is a former Brazilian international football player who is regarded by many as the greatest ever footballer in the world. He featured prominently during the 1960s and 1970s. He played as a striker and won the World Cup thrice with Brazil. Pele is the all-time top scorer of Brazil and is the only football player to be part of three World Cup winning teams.
Pele is the son of a Fluminense footballer Dondinho and was named after the American inventor Thomas Edison but he prefers to call himself Edson. He was given the nickname “Pele” during his schooldays. He grew up in poverty and earned extra money by shining shoes at Bauru Athletic Club on matchdays. During his childhood Pele used to play football with either a sock stuffed with newspaper, tied with a string or a grapefruit.
Pele joined Brazilian giants Santos when he was 15 and played for the junior side for one season before joining the senior side. His debut for the first team was against Corinthians in a friendly match on September 7,1956 and he actually scored on his debut too. In the 1957 season, Pele became the top scorer in the league at only 16 years of age. He went on playing for Santos until 1974 and scored his 1000th goal in all competitions on November 19, 1969 against Vasco da Dama at the Maracana Stadium. It was a penalty.
Pele played for the New York Cosmos for two years between 1975 and 1977 and scored 31 goals in 56 league matches.
Pele made his international debut for Brazil on July 7,1957 against Argentina in a 2-1 defeat and scored in that match too. He was then still three months away from his 17th birthday. Pele went onto feature in four successive World Cup finals, winning three of them. He was the youngest player in the 1958 World Cup finals and became the youngest ever World Cup goalscorer at 17 years and 239 days when he scored against Wales in the quarter-finals. on June 19,1958 Pele became the youngest player to feature in a World Cup final match at 17 years and 249 days. He scored twice in the final and helped Brazil defeat Sweden 5-2 to lift the trophy.
Pele missed a major chunk of the 1962 World Cup finals after injuring himself in the match against the erstwhile Czechoslovakia. In the 1966 World Cup finals, Pele was kicked and booted out of the competition by Portuguese defenders although by that stage, he had already become the first player ever to score in three World Cup finals. Pele went onto win the 1970 World Cup finals with Brazil and had a great tournament.
Pele’s last international match was on July 18,1971 against erstwhile Yugoslavia in Rio de Janeiro.