LifeBogger presents the Full Story of a Football god who is best known by the Nickname; ‘Black Pearl’.
Our version of Pele’s Biography Facts and Untold Childhood Story brings to you a full account of notable events from his childhood time to the moment he achieved superstardom.
The analysis involves his life story before fame, family life and many OFF and ON-Pitch little-known facts about him.
Yes, he is the only footballer who surpassed the boundaries of nature. Not many Soccer Fans have read an in-depth version of Pele’s Biography, which is quite interesting. Now, without further ado, let us begin.
Pele Childhood Story – Early Life and Family Background:
Edson Arantes do Nascimiento also known as Pele was born in Três Corações, Brazil, by Mr João Ramos do Nascimento AKA Dondinho (father) and Mrs Celeste Arantes (Mother).
He grew up in the city of Três Corações, in the state of Minas Gerais, approximately 200 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro.
Pele was born as the first child of the Dondinho family. Upon birth, his parents named him ‘Edison’ after the inventor, Thomas Edison.
He also grew up having 2 childhood nicknames; “Dico and Pele”. His family gave him the nickname “Dico” which means ‘Son of a Warrior’.
Pele’s dad, also known as Dondinho was considered by many as a warrior in the pitch. He was a brave footballer.
The nickname “Pele” came from his classmates at school. Pele was the happy type who wouldn’t mind friends troubling and making fun of him at school.
He would smile even when disturbed. However, there were limits. These friends of his took advantage of his bad pronouncing ways.
Back then in school, Pele was used to pronounce the name of his favourite local Vasco da Gama goalkeeper ‘Bile’ as “Pile”. His wrong way of pronouncing the name made his classmates mock him.
Hence, they decided to give him the nickname “Pele” with little knowledge of its implication to the football community.
In fact, his classmates never knew it was a golden name. The name was given out of a joke. A name that became the greatest, even greater than 99.9% of names the world has ever known.
According to an interview, Pele once said the name was initially a rubbish childhood nickname, which he didn’t like. When asked Why? this was what he said…
It was not a nickname I wanted as a child. My family called me Dico, my mates in the street called me Edson.
When they started to call me Pelé I didn’t want them to. I thought it was a rubbish name. Now you even see it in the Bible.
In Hebrew Pele means miracle. A theologian discovered this and then told me. Which means it’s there in the Bible.
Back then when someone said, “Hey, Pele,” I would shout back and get angry. On one occasion I punched a classmate because of it and earned a two-day suspension.
This, predictably, did not have the desired effect. Other kids realised it annoyed me and so they started calling me Pele even more.
Then I realised that it wasn’t up to me what I’m called. Now I love the name – but back then it wound me up no end.”
Pele Untold Biography Facts – The Boyhood Dream:
Not many soccer fans know that Pele’s boyhood dream of becoming a pilot was cut short by an unfortunate incident when a local plane crashed close to his home, killing the pilot and all passengers on board.
The young Pele once left his home and went to the hospital to view the autopsy and, upon seeing the pilot’s corpse, he decided that his boyhood dream will cease. Indeed, a career in flying planes was not for him.
As luck would have it, his father’s nurturing trait extended to football as well, and Dondinho became Pele’s first professional football coach.
Pele recounts his mother’s support of his childhood ambition to become a professional pilot. He was not pleased seeing him taking football as a career.
Pele Biograph – Rising From Poverty:
Pele Family Life – About his Dad:
Pele’s father, João Ramos do Nascimento AKA Dodinho was born on the 2nd of October 1917. He was Brazilian football attacking centre forward and was not just a father, but a mentor and best friend to his son, Pelé.
Dondinho played for a number of small clubs during his career years.
Even though he didn’t make much impression like his son, he did something his son wasn’t able to beat in his legendary career. You’ll get to know that as you read through.
Back then in his playing days, football was among the least paid career. Ideally, footballers were among the poorest in the country.
Hence, Dondinho was poor. He retired early due to needing to make more money from other jobs.
After football retirement, Dondinho took the job of hospital cleaner where he made extra cash to aid his son’s career.
Dondinho taught Pele how to pass accurately, perform dribble arts, use shoulder feint to leave defenders for dead, and change pace quickly to outmanoeuvre defenders.
And over and beyond the technical aspect of football, Pele learnt something.
He learnt how to be a real man while spending time with his father. Young Pele derived joy and passion from the playful back-and-forth exchange he had with his father.
Moreover, he loved the way his father took his opinions seriously, as if he were a man.
While Dondinho worked in the ward, he would reminisce about the famous players he had faced and talk about his own older brother, who had shown extraordinary promise as a footballer but died at 25.
Much of his career is incomplete. However, we do know that in roughly twelve years on the dirt football pitches of Brazil, Dondinho managed 893 goals in 775 games excluding 19 in 6 games for Brazil.
Dondinho was a classic number 9 whereas his son Pele played as number 10. Pele opted for a deeper role where he could orchestrate attacks as well as come forward.
Now, this is the record. Dondinho once scored five goals with his head in one match.
Pelé had always aspired to beat this record but was never able to throughout his career. Dondinho headed goals still remains an unofficial world record and a feat that Pele himself could hardly believe.
When asked about it, Pele once said; “Only God can explain how my dad did that.”
Dondinho’s brilliance can only be expressed here as we have remembered him while writing about his Legendary son ‘Pele’. Dondinho lived for 89 years. He died on 16 November 1996 in São Paulo.
Pele Family Life – About his Mother:
Legendary Pele had an overprotective Mum named Mrs Celeste Arantes. She was once a maid before converting to a full-time housewife. It’s been said that behind every great man, there is a woman. In this case, it is a greater mother.
“My mother is a fantastic woman,” said Pelé. “She’s always cared about my family and my education, and she taught me how to respect people. She gave me the opportunity to learn how to respect people.”
They were very close just as Pele was also close to his dad. Interestingly enough, his mother wasn’t always on board with little Pelé becoming a soccer player.
Dona Celeste, who always looked out for her children, saw soccer as both a “dead-end pursuit” and “a sure path to poverty.” She wanted Pelé to focus on his studies instead.
She was like the angel sitting on Pele’s shoulders, always encouraging him to do the right, moral, constructive thing.
According to Pele, “In those early years, when she caught me playing soccer, she would give me a good verbal lashing. And sometimes much worse!”
Pele Relationship Life:
His first marriage was with Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi in 1966.
The couple was blessed with two daughters.
They divorced in 1982. From 1981 until 1986, he was romantically involved with Xuxa, whom, he aided to become a model. Xuxa was only 17-year-old when they started to date.
In 1994, he married psychologist and gospel singer Assíria Lemos Seixas.
Pelé wiped away tears when he remembered his joyful past during his wedding with Assiria Seixas Lemos on April 30, 1994, in the coastal town of Recife, Brazil.
More than 170 state police guarded the couple and 300 guests at the Anglican Episcopal Church. It was the second marriage for both. She gave birth to twins, Joshua and Celeste. They separated in 2008.
In June 2016, Pele, 75, married Marcia at a small religious ceremony in Guaruja on the coast of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The retired soccer star has been in a relationship with Marcia for six years before their marriage.
When it comes to lifestyle, some attributes of Pele can be felt. First, he loves posing for pictures. Below is a stylish Pelé posing in front of a Mercedes-Benz in 1970.
His flashy image was fitting, as his on-field play earned him the nickname “O Rei Pelé,” meaning “King Pelé.”
A Media Target & National Treasury:
Pelé smiles while washing in the bathroom in May 1963. He was a media target everywhere he went, becoming the most legendary footballer ever.
The Brazilian government declared Pelé an official national treasure in 1961 to prevent him from being transferred out of the country.
Love for Neymar:
Both are best of friends and inseparable. According to Neymar, “The turning point of my life was when the king of football, Pele first called me. He told me to snub Chelsea”.
Pele Untold Biography – The Civil War Cease-Fire:
In order to keep the money rolling in, partly to pay Pele’s wages, partly to make money for the club from their prize asset, Santos toured the world playing high profile friendlies, at the expense of their domestic form.
One friendly in Lagos, Nigeria prompted the two factions in the Nigerian Civil War to call a 48 ceasefire so they could watch him play.
Both the Nigerian Federal and Biafran Rebel troops watched Pele play on a visit to their war-torn nation. Pele was amazed when he saw Nigeria for the first time.
Pele was signed by Santos when he was 15. He scored four goals on his league debut in a match against FC Corinthians on September 7, 1956.
He was prolific even in his youth, spearheading the 1958 Brazil National Team to a World Cup championship over Sweden at age 17.
At 17, Pele became the youngest ever winner of a World Cup. He also scored twice in the final against home side Sweden.
His first goal, where he flicked the ball over a defender before volleying into the corner of the net, was selected as one of the best goals in the history of the World Cup.
Following Pelé’s second goal, Swedish player Sigvard Parling would later comment; “When Pelé scored the fifth goal in that Final, I have to be honest and say I felt like applauding”
It was in the 1958 World Cup that Pelé began wearing a jersey with number 10.
Pelé also played in the South American Championship. In the 1959 competition, he was named best player of the tournament and was the top scorer with 8 goals, as Brazil came second despite being unbeaten in the tournament.
A prolific goalscorer, he was known for his ability to anticipate opponents in the area and finish off chances with an accurate and powerful shot with either foot.
At Santos, November 19 is known as ‘Pele Day’ to celebrate the anniversary of his 1,000th goal.
Pele is fifth on the all-time World Cup goalscorers list with 12 – and the second highest-placed Brazilian behind Ronaldo.
When Pele retired, J.B. Pinheiro, the Brazilian ambassador to the United Nations, said:
“Pele played football for 22 years, and in that time he did more to promote world friendship and fraternity than any other ambassador anywhere.”
Pele scored 92 hat-tricks, and scored four goals on 31 occasions, five on six occasions, and once scored eight in one match. And many of Pele’s goals were scored with bicycle kicks.
Pele scored three or more goals a staggering 129 times during his career. 1 in career goals. 1, 280 in 1, 360 games.
He also holds the world record for hat tricks. 92 in total. Pele never believed in penalties. He once said: “A penalty is a cowardly way to score.”
In 1997, Pele was given an honorary British Knighthood. He was appointed as Minister of Sport in Brazil in 1995, serving until 1998.
He was voted athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1999. Pele was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1999.
Pele Priceless Jersey:
When Pele played for New York, so many of his opponents wanted to swap shirts with him that the club had to give each of their opponents a shirt after every match.
“Pele was the main attraction,” says Gordon Bradley, one of the club’s coaches at the time. “Sometimes we had to take 25 or 30 shirts with us to a match – otherwise, we’d never have got out of the stadium alive.”
Pele Biography – Not a friend to Maradona:
Pele and Maradona are hardly friends. In 2010, Pele said of the Argentinian: “He is not a good example for the youth. He had the God-given gift of being able to play football, and that is why he is lucky.”
Maradona’s response: “Who cares what Pele says? He belongs in a museum.”
Pele said in 2006:
“For 20 years they have asked me the same question, who is the greatest? Pele or Maradona? I reply that all you have to do is look at the facts – how many goals did he score with his right foot or with his head?”
UN Goodwill Ambassador:
A spokesperson as well as an athlete, Pelé promoted an anti-drug campaign before a match with Diego Maradona and Michel Platini on May 23, 1988, in France.
He used his fame to make a difference after soccer, serving as the United Nations ambassador for ecology and the environment.
The Brazilian Legend has worked as a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador and as a United Nations ambassador, working to protect the environment and fight corruption in Brazil.
Pele Video Game:
Legendary Pele had a video game named after him back in the 1980s called ‘Pelé’s Soccer’.
It is a soccer game for the Atari 2600, and quite possibly the oldest celebrity tie-in video game. The game allows you to score goals across South America.
In playing it, you first start in the streets of Brazil and perform trick shots to outplay the goalkeeper. Then, travel to new neighbourhoods on your way to the big stadium.
Pele Story – Promoting His Boot:
As he prepared to kick off in a game during Mexico ’70, Pele gestured to the referee that he needed to tie his laces. The cameras panned in to reveal the forward’s Puma boots — the company subsequently experienced a huge sales boost.
Thank you for reading LifeBogger’s version of Pele’s Biography, a Soccer Legend whom many – eg, the likes of Roger Milla looked up to. Kindly reach us via comment if you notice anything that doesn’t look right in Pele’s story.