On the evening of December 29, 2022, the world was devastated by the news of the passing of the legendary Brazilian soccer player, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known to the world as King Pelé. Pelé, who had been battling colon cancer for several years, died at the age of 82 in his home in Santos, Brazil surrounded by his family.
Pelé’s impact on the world of soccer cannot be overstated. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, having scored a staggering 1,281 goals in 1,363 games. He is the only player to have won the World Cup three times and is credited with popularizing soccer in Brazil and throughout the world.
Pelé is a name known worldwide, but you probably don’t know everything about the famous soccer player. Here are 11 interesting facts about Pelé that you probably didn’t know. From his real name to his career in film and his role as an ambassador of peace, there is much more to know about this sporting icon.
Earned his nickname Pelé as a child
Pelé earned his nickname as a child due to his ability to kick the ball with force. The name “Pelé” is actually a shortened version of the word “pelota”, which means ball in Portuguese. When Pelé was young, he was known for his powerful kicking style and his teammates began calling him “Pelé” as a nickname. The name stuck and he became known as Pelé to the rest of the world.
Began playing professionally at 15
Pelé began playing professional soccer at the age of 15 when he was signed by Santos Futebol Clube. In his early years as a professional, he helped Santos win several state and national titles.
Regarded as the greatest player of all time
Pelé is considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time. He was named the “Player of the Century” by FIFA in 1999, and in 2004 he was included in the list of “125 Greatest Living Footballers” by the English magazine “World Soccer”.
Was a successful actor and singer
In addition to his soccer career, Pelé also had success as an actor and singer. He appeared in several films, including “Escape to Victory” (1981) and “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” (1995), and released several music albums.
First Athlete to visit the White House
Pelé was invited by President John F. Kennedy to visit the White House in 1962, becoming the first athlete to receive this honor.
Brought the World Cup to Brazil
Pelé played a key role in the campaign to hold the 1970 World Cup in Brazil. He actively promoted the event and was one of the main people responsible for convincing the participating countries’ governments to send their teams to the competition.
Let Brazil to 3 World Cup Championships
Pelé led Brazil to three World Cup championships in 1958, 1962, and 1970. He scored 12 goals in World Cup play in total.
First player to score 1,000 goals
Pelé was the first player to score 1,000 goals in his career, a feat that many consider unbeatable. He scored the majority of his goals for Santos, but also scored important goals for the Brazilian national team.
Received scholarship to play in the USA
Pelé was the first athlete to receive a scholarship to play soccer in the United States. He played for the New York Cosmos from 1975 to 1977, helping to popularize soccer in the US.
Was a UNESCO ambassador
Pelé was named a UNESCO ambassador of peace in 1992, and in 1995 he was named “Chancellor of Sport” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Has received numerous awards and accolades
Pelé received numerous awards and honors during his career, including the Order of the Southern Cross, the highest honor of the Brazilian government, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor of the US government.
Pelé is an iconic figure in the world of soccer and his influence extends beyond the boundaries of sports. In addition to being considered one of the greatest players of all time, he also had success as an actor and singer and was an ambassador of peace. There is much more to know about this soccer legend, and these 10 facts are just a small sample of Pelé’s legacy.