Pelé was a football player from Brazil. His full name is Edison Arantes do Nascimento. He won many titles with Santos FC and was world champion three times: 1958, 1962 and 1970. Pelé scored a total of 77 goals in 92 games for Brazil. No Brazilian scored more goals for the national team. Many people say he is the best footballer ever.
Pelé grew up in the south of Brazil. His parents named him after the inventor Thomas Alva Edison. He got his nickname Pelé because as a child he fancied a goalkeeper called "Bilé". However, he pronounced the name inaccurately and so it became "Pelé". Brazilians also called him "o Rei do Futebol". This is Portuguese and means "the king of football".
His father was also a talented footballer. However, he was never able to become a professional because of a knee injury. The family was poor. So young Pelé worked as a shoeshine boy at the railway station. He often skipped school because he preferred playing football. His street team was known as the "shoeless" because they played barefoot. They didn't have balls either. They played with a grapefruit instead.
At the age of 16, the former national player Waldemar de Brito discovered him and brought him to Santos FC. Waldemar de Brito believed even then that Pelé had the talent to one day become "the greatest footballer in the world." Pelé played very successfully for Santos FC for 18 years. When he scored his thousandth goal, bells rang throughout the country. Shortly afterwards, the Brazilian post office issued a special stamp for the occasion.
After the World Cup in 1958, European clubs wanted Pelé. But the Brazilian government declared Pelé a "national asset". Pelé got his first professional contract with FC Santos and earned more than the Brazilian president. He was especially popular in Africa because of his skin colour. In 1967, a war in Nigeria was even interrupted for a short time because Santos FC played in Lagos.
In 1974, Pelé ended his career. But then a financial advisor ruined his fortune and Pelé was suddenly two million dollars in debt. To earn money, he went to New York and played for two years for the Cosmos club for a lot of money. His teammates included many famous footballers. Among them was Franz Beckenbauer.
After his career ended, Pelé did many other things. Among other things, he worked as an ambassador for the UN and was Brazil's Minister of Sport from 1995 to 1998. He also still does a lot of advertising today, for example for the beverage brand Pepsi.
At the age of 80, Pelé fell ill with cancer. He was operated on in a hospital in the city of São Paulo. About a year later, at the end of 2022, he was treated again in the same hospital and died there.