Pelé: Dribbling Dreams from São Paulo to Soccer's Pinnacle

11 Min Read

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, universally celebrated as Pelé, remains an iconic figure in the annals of football. Born on 23 October 1940 in Três Corações, Brazil, he embarked on a football journey that would see him crowned as the “King” of the sport.

Pelé’s illustrious career began with Santos at a tender age of 15. His prodigious talent was evident as he made his debut for the Brazil national team just a year later. This prodigy went on to clinch three FIFA World Cups in 1958, 1962, and 1970, becoming the only player in history to achieve this milestone. These achievements earned him the moniker “O Rei” or “The King”.

His footballing prowess wasn’t just limited to the national stage; Pelé was a sensation at club level too. With Santos, he netted a staggering 643 goals in 659 games and led them to prestigious titles like the Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup.

Beyond his on-field magic, Pelé was a force off the pitch. He was an ambassador for the sport, a voice for the underprivileged in Brazil, and a symbol of hope and inspiration, especially after his groundbreaking success in the 1958 World Cup.

A testament to his global impact, Pelé was lauded with numerous accolades over the years. In 1999, the International Olympic Committee honored him as the Athlete of the Century. He was also recognized by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) as the World Player of the Century in 2000. Moreover, his record of 1,279 goals in 1,363 games stands tall in the Guinness World Records.

Beyond football, Pelé ventured into various roles, including serving as Brazil’s 1st Minister of Sports and being named the honorary president of the New York Cosmos in 2010.

Though Pelé left the world on 29 December 2022, his legacy as one of football’s greatest ever luminaries remains indelible. His story, from the streets of Brazil to the pinnacle of global football, will continue to inspire generations.

Pelé, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is unequivocally one of the most iconic figures in football history. His rise from a modest upbringing in Brazil to global football stardom is legendary, and his influence transcends the boundaries of the pitch.

Pelé: Quick Biography

  • Born: October 23, 1940, in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
  • Early Life:
    • Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé showcased immense talent from a young age, playing for local clubs in his youth.
  • Club Career:
    • Santos FC: Pelé’s professional career began with Santos FC at the age of 15. He spent the majority of his club career here, from 1956 to 1974. With Santos, Pelé won multiple Paulista Championships, Brazil Serie A titles, and two Copa Libertadores titles.
    • New York Cosmos: After retiring from Brazilian football, Pelé joined the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League (NASL) from 1975 to 1977, helping popularize soccer in the U.S.
  • International Career:
    • Pelé earned 92 caps and scored 77 goals for the Brazil national team.
    • He’s the only player to win three FIFA World Cups: 1958 in Sweden, 1962 in Chile, and 1970 in Mexico. His performances in these tournaments solidified his reputation as one of the greatest players ever.
  • Retirement and Ambassadorial Role:
    • After retiring, Pelé has been a global ambassador for soccer and various humanitarian causes. He’s also served as Brazil’s Extraordinary Minister for Sport and a United Nations ambassador for ecology and the environment.
  • Legacy:
    • Pelé is universally regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. He was named FIFA World Player of the Century in 1999 (an award he shared with Argentine Diego Maradona).
    • The International Olympic Committee named him the Athlete of the Century in 1999. His total goal tally, including friendlies, stands at a staggering 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.
  • Personal Life:
    • Off the pitch, Pelé has been involved in various charitable endeavors and has also pursued ventures in acting, music, and writing. He’s a symbol of national pride in Brazil and is known as “The King of Football” globally.

Pelé’s blend of skill, vision, and sportsmanship on the football pitch has left an indelible mark on the sport, and he continues to be an iconic figure in the world of sports and beyond.

When it comes to formal education, Pelé’s journey is less documented than his football career. However, here’s what we know:

Early Life and Possible Education

Pelé grew up in poverty in Bauru, Sao Paulo state. Given the socio-economic challenges of his youth, it’s plausible that formal schooling wasn’t a prominent part of his early life. The priority was more likely on survival and later, as his talent became evident, on football. Some accounts suggest that he attended school for a few years but did not proceed to higher education.

Metropolitan University of Santos

Some sources cite that Pelé attended the Metropolitan University of Santos. However, this information isn’t consistently documented across reputable sources, which means it’s essential to approach this claim with caution. Given Pelé’s hectic schedule as a professional footballer and his myriad commitments, it seems improbable that he had a typical college experience.

Honorary Degree

While the details of Pelé’s early education remain blurry, what’s certain is his recognition by academic institutions for his indelible contributions to football and humanitarian causes. The University of Edinburgh in Scotland conferred upon him an honorary degree. This gesture, although not indicative of formal education, underscores the global appreciation for his influence on and off the football field.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What did Pelé study in college?
A: The details surrounding Pelé’s college education are a bit murky. Some sources suggest he may have attended the Metropolitan University of Santos in Brazil for four years, but the specific field of study is not clear. However, it’s essential to recognize that other accounts indicate Pelé didn’t pursue formal education due to his early rise to soccer fame and challenging upbringing.

Q: How did Pelé’s college education influence his soccer career?
A: It’s difficult to directly correlate any college education Pelé might have had with his legendary soccer career. By most accounts, his soccer trajectory skyrocketed in his teenage years, which predates typical college attendance. Consequently, it’s widely believed that Pelé’s natural talent, passion, and dedication played a more significant role in shaping his football career than formal education.

Q: What accolades and achievements does Pelé have beyond soccer?
A: Beyond soccer, Pelé’s influence and contributions span various domains. He was honored with an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh for his sportsmanship and humanitarian efforts. As a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, he championed education, culture, and peace. In a political capacity, he served as Brazil’s Extraordinary Minister for Sport. Additionally, Pelé has dabbled in the entertainment industry, making appearances in select films and TV shows.

Q: What is Patrick Mahomes’ legacy?
A: Though early in his career, Mahomes is already one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, having won two Super Bowls, two NFL MVP awards, and earning four Pro Bowl selections.

Q: Who is best: Messi or Pelé?
A: Comparing players from different eras is challenging. Both Messi and Pelé have been outstanding in their respective times. Messi’s technical skills, vision, and prolific goal-scoring record make him a standout in contemporary football. At the same time, Pelé’s achievements, flair, and influence during his prime were unmatched. Personal preferences play a large role in this debate.

Q: What made Pelé so great?
A: Pelé’s greatness can be attributed to his natural talent, vision, agility, and incredible goal-scoring ability. His success in three FIFA World Cups and his overall contribution to the teams he played for have solidified his place as one of the greatest players of all time.

Q: Who is the king of football all time?
A: The title “King of Football” is subjective and can vary based on who you ask. Historically, Pelé has often been referred to as the “King of Football” due to his unparalleled achievements and global impact on the sport.

Q: Has Pelé won FIFA?
A: If by “won FIFA,” you’re referring to the FIFA World Cup, then yes, Pelé won the World Cup three times with Brazil, in 1958, 1962, and 1970.

Q: Who is the 2nd king of football?
A: This is also a subjective title. Players like Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo, among others, are frequently mentioned in discussions about the greatest footballers, but there isn’t a widely-accepted “2nd king.”

Q: Who is the No. 1 player of football history?
A: The title of the “No. 1 player” in football history is hotly debated and is based on personal opinions. Legends like Pelé, Diego Maradona, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo are often mentioned in these discussions.