Pelé (Edson Arantes do Nascimento), a Brazilian football (soccer) player, was born on October 23, 1940, in Três Corações, Brazil. He was arguably the most renowned and maybe the best-paid athlete in the world at the time. He was a member of three Brazilian national teams that won World Cup titles (1958, 1962 and 1970).
Pelé (whose moniker appears to be meaningless) was rejected by big clubs in the city of S. Paulo after playing for a small league club in Bauru, S. Paulo state. However, in 1956, he joined the Santos Football Club, which won nine S. Paulo league titles. The Santos Football Club also won the Libertadores Cup and the Intercontinental Club Cup in 1962 and 1963, with Pelé at inside left forward.
Pelé was dubbed “Pérola Negra” (“Black Pearl”) and became a national hero in Brazil. He had a remarkable ability to anticipate opposing players’ actions and kicking strength and precision. Pelé was named a national treasure by the Brazilian government following the 1958 World Cup in order to deter huge offers from European clubs and assure that he would stay in Brazil. He scored his 1,000th goal on November 20, 1969, in his 909th first-class match.
Pelé made his international debut at the age of 16 in 1957, and he participated in the World Cup finals in Sweden the following year. Initially, the Brazilian manager was apprehensive about letting his young star on the field. However, Pelé made an instant impression when he arrived on the pitch, rattled the post with one shot, and picked up an assist. He scored a hat trick in the semi final against France and two goals in the final against Sweden, which Brazil won 5–2.
Pelé tore a thigh muscle in the second match of the 1962 World Cup finals and had to sit out the rest of the tournament. Despite this, Brazil went on to win its second World Cup.