Edson Arantes Do Nascimento (aka Pele) is said to be the best soccer player of all time. A legend!
He was born in poverty in Brazil and started playing soccer at an early age. His inspiration was his father, who was also a soccer player but suffered a knee injury which forced him to stop playing professionally. Pele viewed professional soccer as a way out of poverty so he started practicing every day. They were too poor to afford a real soccer ball to practice with so he used a stuff sock instead. He also shined shoes to raise money to purchase a real soccer ball. What passion!
When Pele was only 11 years old, Waldemar de Brito, one of the country’s top soccer players at that time, saw Pele play soccer and was awestruck by his talent. He took Pele to Sao Paulo and declared to the professional team there, “this boy will be the greatest soccer player in the world.” At the age of 16, Pele played with their team for the very first time and scored a goal almost immediately! By 17, he played his first World Cup final!
He is the only soccer player to play in three World Cups. In his 22-year career, he scored a total of 1,281 goals! When he scored his 1000th goal, he dedicated it to the poor children in Brazil. He was so popular that in 1967, a two-day ceasefire was declared for Nigeria ‘s civil war just so that the nation could watch Pele and his team play. What an impact Pele had!
He retired in 1977 but has continued to be a worldwide ambassador for football. He is also currently serving as the Honorary President of the New York Cosmos.