Brazilian football legend Pele looks at the FIFA World Cup trophy during the FIFA World Cup Trophy event on March 9, 2014.

Brazilian football legend Pele looks at the FIFA World Cup trophy during the FIFA World Cup Trophy event on March 9, 2014.

Franck Fife/AFP/Getty


Here is a look at the life of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé, a professional Brazilian football (soccer) player.

During his World Cup appearances, he scored 12 goals in 14 games. He played in four World Cups, and his Brazilian team won three (1958, 1962, 1970).


Birth date: October 23, 1940

Death date: December 29, 2022

Birth place: Três Corações, Brazil

Birth name: Edson Arantes do Nascimento

Father: João Ramos do Nascimento, known as “Dondinho,” football player

Mother: Celeste Arantes do Nascimento

Marriages: Marcia Cibele Aoki (2016-present), Assíria Lemos (1994-2010, divorced), Rosemeri Cholbi (1966-1978, divorced)

Children: with Rosemeri Cholbi: Kely, Edson and Jennifer; with Anisia Machado: Sandra (died of cancer in 2006); with Lenita Kurtz: Flávia Christina; with Assíria Lemos: Joshua and Celeste

Other Facts

Nicknames include Pérola Negra (Black Pearl), O Rei (The King) and Dico.

Started playing football professionally at 15. His position was inside left forward (striker), his jersey number was 10, and he played for Santos Football Club from 1956-1974.

First won the World Cup at age 17.

Brazil’s president declared Pelé a national treasure, preventing him from signing on with a team outside of Brazil.

He was named after Thomas Edison.

Wrote multiple memoirs, including “Pelé: My Life and the Beautiful Game,” “My Life in Pictures” and “Pelé: The Autobiography.”

Appeared in several movies in the 1970s and 1980s.

He composed the soundtrack for the film “Pelé (1977),” as well as other musical pieces.

Pelé Day occurs in Santos, Brazil, on November 19 each year, to recognize the date of his 1,000th goal.

He scored 1,281 goals in his professional career (in 1,363 games).

Has been a spokesman for Viagra.


September 7, 1956 – Scores his first professional goal in his league debut, during a match between Santos FC and Corinthians Football Club.

1967 – The two sides involved in the Nigerian civil war call a cease-fire to watch Pelé and the Santos team play an exhibition game in Lagos.

November 19, 1969 – Scores his 1,000th goal at his 909th first-class game.

1974 – Announces his retirement.

1975 – Signs a contract to play for the New York Cosmos.

October 1, 1977 – Retires from playing with an exhibition game between the Cosmos and Santos FC. He plays the first half for the Cosmos and the second half for Santos.

1978 – Receives the International Peace Award.

1993 – Is inducted into the US National Soccer Hall of Fame.

1995-1998 – Serves as Brazil’s extraordinary minister for sport.

December 3, 1997 – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II awards him an honorary knighthood.

1998 – A law passes, nicknamed the “Pelé Law,” to address corruption in Brazilian football. It goes into effect in 2001.

1999 – The International Olympic Committee names him “Athlete of the Century.”

2000 – The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) names him “Player of the Century,” jointly with Argentina’s Diego Maradona.

2005 – Receives a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show.

November 2012 – Undergoes a successful hip operation at a hospital in Sao Paulo.

October 2013 – Is awarded two Guinness World Records certificates for “Most Career Goals” and “Most World Cup Winners’ Medals.”

November 13, 2014 – Undergoes surgery to remove kidney stones.

November 24, 2014 – Is admitted to a Brazilian hospital with a urinary tract infection. On November 29, the hospital issues two statements saying that Pelé continues to improve and that doctors plan to take him off dialysis the next day.

December 4, 2014 – The Brazilian football club Santos signs a lifetime contract with Pelé, making him its lifetime global ambassador.

December 9, 2014 – Discharged from the hospital.

May 7, 2015 – Is hospitalized to undergo prostate surgery. He is released after two days.

August 5, 2016 – It is announced that he will not light the Olympic cauldron in the opening ceremony of the 2016 summer games due to health problems.

September 13, 2018 – Launches The Pelé Foundation, a charity that will team with other organizations to benefit children, specifically in the areas of poverty and education.

April 3, 2019 – Is taken to a hospital in Paris because of a urinary tract infection.

April 9, 2019 – Returns to Brazil and is admitted to the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paolo for a urinary tract infection caused by kidney stones. Four days later, he has surgery. He leaves the hospital two days after surgery.

February 23, 2021 – The documentary, “Pelé,” is released on Netflix.

September 6, 2021 – Pelé announces on social media that he underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his right colon on September 4.

September 30, 2021 – Is discharged from hospital following surgery to remove a tumor from his colon.

December 8, 2021 – According to a spokesperson at Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein hospital, Pelé is hospitalized for chemotherapy treatment of a colon tumor. On December 23, Pelé tweets that he has left the hospital.

January 19, 2022 – Pelé returns to the hospital to receive cancer treatment and is discharged on January 20.

February 13, 2022 – Pelé returns to the hospital to receive cancer treatment. According to the hospital, Pelé is discharged on February 28 after treatment for a urinary tract infection, as well as a tumor.

April 18, 2022 – According to a spokesperson at Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein hospital, Pelé has returned to the hospital to receive cancer treatment. On April 21, the hospital reports Pelé has left the hospital in stable condition.

December 2, 2022 – The Albert Einstein Jewish Hospital in São Paulo releases a statement saying Pelé is being treated for a “respiratory infection.”

December 29, 2022 – Pelé dies at the age of 82.

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