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Player Facts

  • Full name: Edson Arantes do Nascimento
  • Date of birth: 23 October 1940
  • Place of birth: Três Corações (MG), Brazil
  • Nickname: O Rei (The King)
  • Youth clubs: 1955–1956, Bauru

  • Professional clubs: 1956–1974 - Santos FC
    1975–1977 - Cosmos

  • National team 1956 – 1971 Brazil

    Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Honorary KBE (born 23 October 1940). Pelé is considered by most experts and fans to be the finest player of all time.

    Often considered the complete midfield and attacking player, he was completely two-footed, a prolific finisher, exceptional at dribbling and passing, and was a remarkably good tackler for a forward. He was also famed for his speed and kicking strength. Pelé's technique and deft touch combined with his dribbling skills and scoring ability cannot be overstated. His most spectacular signature move was probably the "bicycle kick". He scored over twelve hundred career goals in all competitions, the biggest haul by far among famous players. But more importantly, he won three World Cups! Since his full retirement in 1977 he has served as an ambassador for the sport.

    Birth of a Legend

    He was born in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil, the son of Fluminense Football Club footballer João Ramos do Nascimento, also known as Dondinho.

    Growing up on the streets of Bauru, São Paulo, he could not afford a soccer ball, and was given his first leather ball on his sixth birthday. At the age of eleven, Pelé was scouted by Brazilian legend Waldemar de Brito who invited him to join de Brito's amateur team, Clube Atlético Bauru. In 1956, Pele's mentor took him to the city of São Paulo, to try out for Santos Futebol Clube. Just ten months after signing professionally, the teenager was called up to the Brazilian national team.

    World Cup Glory

    In World Cup 1958, Pelé became the youngest ever World Cup winner in Sweden at 17, scoring two goals in the final as Brazil crushed Sweden 5–2 in Stockholm! He played in three more Brazilian World Cup teams in 1962, 1966 and 1970, two of which Brazil won (1962 and 1970).

    Although his contributions were limited in the 1962 and 1966 campaigns because of injuries, the 1970 tournament in Mexico was to be Pelé's last. The 1970 team, featuring famous players like Rivelino, Jairzinho, Gérson, and Tostão, is often considered to be the greatest team ever. Brazil defeated Italy 4–1 in the final, with Pelé scoring a goal and gloriously setting up Carlos Alberto for another in what some still consider to be the finest ever World Cup.

    After the Glory

    Pele retired from Brazilian soccer on October 2nd, 1974, and joined the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League.

    During the three seasons playing for the Cosmos he was named in the annual NASL First Team: the 11 best players of a particular season. He was also named as the league's most valuable player in 1976.

    His contract for Cosmos meant that Pele had to play in the regular US-based NASL season but also travel the World playing many exhibition games. During the 3 years Pele played for Cosmos, he played matches in countries such as: China, Japan, Sweden, Bermuda and Uganda.

    In 1992, Pelé was appointed a United Nations Ambassador for Ecology and the Environment.

    In 1995, President Cardoso appointed Pelé to the position of Minister of Sports.

    In 1995, he was appointed an Ambassador for UNESCO at the Goodwill Games.

    He was awarded Brazil's Gold Medal for outstanding services to the sport, before becoming Sports Minister in 1995. In 1997, he was given an honorary British knighthood.

    Pelé is a long-standing contributor for children's rights at UNICEF and acts as the figurehead of a charity for erectile dysfunction. Pelé is certainly one of the most famous men in football, with his nickname being recognized even by those unfamiliar with the sport.

    He was voted athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1999.

    In December 2000, Pelé was named Footballer of the Century by a "Family of Football" committee appointed by FIFA. In the same year, Pelé received the Laureus World Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement Award from South African President Nelson Mandela.

    Pelé is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

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    At US Youth Soccer we provide a fun, safe and healthy game for ALL KIDS...big kids, little kids, tall kids, short kids, young kids, older who want to play for one season, kids who want to play for twenty seasons, kids who play strictly for fun, and kids who want to compete at the highest level possible. US Youth Soccer is the largest youth sports organization in the nation with over 600,000 volunteers and administrators, and over 300,000 dedicated coaches, most of who also are volunteers. US Youth Soccer registers over 3,000,000 youth players between the ages of five and nineteen. By shopping at US Youth Soccer Shop, you'll not only score great soccer gear, but also support our organization and our programs to help grow soccer in the United States. Visit for more.
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