Born: 23 October 1940
Birthplace: Tres Coracoes, Brazil
Best known as: Brazil's most famous soccer star
Name at birth: Edson Arantes do Nascimento
The most famous footballer of his generation, Pelé joined the Santos Football Club in 1956 and stayed with the club through his retirement in 1974, helping the team to nine championships in 18 years. Pelé played on four Brazilian World Cup teams, including the country's three World Cup wins in 1958, 1962 and 1970. The 1958 final was perhaps his most famous match, with Pelé scoring two goals in Brazil's 4-2 win over Sweden. Pelé became more famous in America in 1975, when he came out of retirement to play for the New York Cosmos of the infant North American Soccer League. Pelé retired again in 1977 after leading the Cosmos to the NASL championship. His 1977 autobiography was titled My Life and the Beautiful Game.
Extra credit: Pelé got his nickname as a child, but he has said he does not know how he got it or what it means. He told The Guardian in a 2006 interview that he was named Edson after inventor Thomas Edison... Pelé was named Athlete of the Century by the world's combined National Olympic Committees in 1999, though he never played in the Olympics himself... Pelé played his last game for Santos on 3 October 1974... Pelé scored his 1000th career goal on Nov. 19, 1969 in game in Rio de Janeiro; he went on to score over 1200 goals in his professional career... In March of 2002, the jersey Pelé wore in the 1970 World Cup final sold at auction for $220,850... For a time he dated Brazilian TV star Xuxa.
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