Edson Arantes do Nascimento, KBE (born October 23, 1940), nicknamed Pelé, is a former Brazilian football player, considered by many to be the finest player of all time. He was an exceptionally versatile footballer, two-footed, an extremely successful goal scorer, highly skilled at dribbling and passing, and having remarkably good defensive skills for a striker.
He was born in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Pelé started his football career in Santos in 1956, at the age of 15, and played in his first international match only ten months later. Ever loyal to his local club, he stayed with Santos for his entire career. In 1958, Pelé became the youngest ever World Cup winner in Sweden at 17. He played in two more Brazilian World Cup-winning teams, in 1962 and 1970. The 1970 team, featuring famous players like Rivelino, Jairzinho, and Tostão, is considered one of the greatest teams ever to compete in a World Cup. He missed most of the 1962 and 1966 World Cups due to injuries sustained in the early stages of the tournament.
In 1967, the two factions involved in a civil war in Nigeria agreed for a 48-hour ceasefire so they could watch Pelé play an exhibition game in Lagos.
After his retirement from Brazilian football on October 3, 1974, he joined the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. He played his last game as a professional on October 1, 1977 in front of a capacity crowd at Giants Stadium against his old club, Santos; he played the first half with the Cosmos and the second half with Santos. The exhibition game was sold out six weeks beforehand. He also played in a friendly match with the Lebanese club Nejmeh in 1974 (see Football in Lebanon).
Pelé is in third place in the list of all-time top scorers in World Cup play, with 12 goals, and he is the only player who won three World Cups with his team. He ended his career with a total of 1281 goals in 1363 matches, becoming one of the most prolific goal scorers ever. In his 92 appearances for the Brazilian team, he scored 77 goals.
He was awarded Brazil's Gold Medal for outstanding services to the sport, before becoming Sports Minister in 1994. In 1997, he was given an honourary British knighthood.
He was voted athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1999. He is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. Nowadays, Pelé is almost certainly the most famous man in football, with his nickname being recognized even by those unfamiliar with the sport.
Pelé is the first sports figure featured on a video game with the Atari 2600 game Pelé's Soccer.