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Pelé Biography: Know About Brazilian Football Legend's Early Life, Career, Family And Achievements

He is titled 'The Greatest' by FIFA. One of the greatest football legends of all time, 82-year-old icon Edson Arantes do Nascimento or popularly known as Pelé is currently hospitalized for the treatment of a colon tumour. Last year, the legendary player was diagnosed with colon cancer and since then he has been undergoing regular chemotherapy. While his ongoing battle continues, let us know a bit more about his early life, career, family and achievements.

Early Childhood, Family And Career

Not many are aware that Pele was named after the world-famous scientist Thomas Edison, though his parents removed the alphabet 'i' from his name and called him 'Edson'. He was born on 23 October 1940, in Três Corações, Brazil and has seen poverty from very close in São Paulo. His family couldn't afford a football, so he used to play with paper-stuffed socks.

After a local plane mishap next to his house, shattered his dreams of becoming a pilot, Pele decided that flying was not his cup of tea. However, he was lucky enough to have a father who recognized his talents and coached him in football. His mother who had high-flying ambitions for him could not digest the fact that he chose football over flying.

His family was so financially hard-pressed that it could not afford him the pocket money to buy a football. He even played football with mangoes quite often. He took his first lessons in soccer from his father and played amateur matches as well. While learning football, he realized he had a gift and an innate style that was way beyond the ordinary. It was his dribbling, passing skills, pace and ability to score goals that catapulted him to stardom.

Back then in his playing days, football was among the least-paid career. Ideally, footballers were among the poorest in the country. It was Brazilian Footballer Dondinho who taught Pele how to pass accurately, helped him perfect the dribbling art, and to change pace in a jiffy and outmanoeuvre his opponents.

The ongoing inspiring discussions he had with his father enriched his life in several ways. Pele unlike his father opted to focus on how to orchestrate attacks as well as come forward. Pele's mother taught him values that stood through out his life as his shining beacons. She was an over caring mother who was also worldy wise. He married twice and had one romantic involvement with a young model. He married for the third time, his partner of 6 years at the age of 75 in Brazil. He ardently loved being photographed and playing the guitar whenever he wanted to relax.

Achievements And Recognitions

  • The Brazilian government recognized him officially as a national treasure in 1961 to prevent him from leaving the country.
  • Pele was signed by Santos when he was 15 during which he scored four goals on his league debut in a match against FC Corinthians in 1956.
  • At 17, Pele won the prestigious World Cup. He was part of many Brazilian national teams that won three World Cup championships in 1958, 1962, and 1970.
  • His first goal created a record in the history of the World Cup. Pelé also played in the South American Championship. In the 1959 competition, he was chosen as the best as he scored 8 goals although Brazil came in second in that game.
  • He was known for his ability to anticipate opponents in the area and spoiled their chances with an accurate shot with either foot.
  • At Santos, November 19 is known as 'Pele Day' which celebrates the anniversary of his 1,000th goal.
  • Pele is fifth on the all-time World Cup goalscorers list and the second highest-placed Brazilian.
  • He scored 92 hat-tricks, which is a world record and he achieved many of his goals by using bicycle kicks.In 1997, Pele was accorded the honorary British Knighthood.
  • He was the Minister of Sport in Brazil in 1995, and then inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1999.
  • Pelé as a spokesperson, promoted an anti-drug campaign before a match with Diego Maradona and Michel Platini in France.
  • Pele has an estimated net worth of $100 Million in 2022 and he has built his million-dollar empire entirely through his career in football.
  • He not only served as the United Nations ambassador for ecology and the environment but also worked as an UNICEF Goodwill ambassador.
Story first published: Thursday, December 1, 2022, 18:30 [IST]
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