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Footballer ‘Pele’: Biography, Career, Death and Legacy, Marriage, Net Worth, Records, Awards, Controversy and More




Pelé was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on October 23, 1940, in Três Coraçes, Brazil, as the first child of Joao Ramos and Dona Celeste. Pele was named after Thomas Edison.

Pelé, a member of three Brazilian World Cup-winning teams, is widely regarded as the greatest soccer player of all time.

Pelé became a soccer legend after his performance in the 1958 World Cup. Pelé spent two decades playing professionally in Brazil, winning three World Cups along the way, before joining the New York Cosmos late in his career. 

In 1999, he was named FIFA co-Player of the Century and served as a global ambassador for soccer and other humanitarian causes.

Joao Ramos, better known as “Dondinho,” struggled to make a living as a soccer player, and Pelé grew up in poverty. Nonetheless, he developed a rudimentary talent for soccer by kicking a rolled-up sock stuffed with rags around the streets of Bauru. 


As a teenager, Pelé joined a youth team coached by Waldemar de Brito, a former member of the Brazilian national soccer team. Pelé’s family was eventually persuaded by De Brito to let him leave home at the age of 15 to try out for the Santos professional soccer club.

Pelé joined Santos and immediately began training with the team’s regulars. He scored his first professional goal before the age of 16, led the league in goals in his first full season, and was drafted to the Brazilian national team.

He was first introduced to the world during the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. The 17-year-old exploded for three goals in a 5-2 semifinal win over France, then added two more in the finals, a 5-2 win over the host country, displaying remarkable speed, athleticism, and field vision.

The young superstar received lucrative offers from European clubs, and Brazilian President Janio Quadros eventually declared Pelé a national treasure, making it illegal for him to play in another country. 

Regardless, Santos club ownership made certain that its star attraction was well compensated by scheduling lucrative exhibition matches with teams from around the world.

Pelé suffered a groin injury two games into the 1962 World Cup in Chile, missing the final rounds as Brazil won its second straight title. Four years later, in England, a series of brutal attacks by opposing defenders forced him to miss the World Cup due to leg injuries, and Brazil was eliminated after one round.

Despite his failures on the international stage, Pelé’s legend grew. The two factions in Nigeria’s civil war reportedly agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire in order to watch Pelé play in an exhibition game in Lagos in the late 1960s.

Pelé and Brazil triumphantly returned to glory at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Pelé, who led a formidable squad, scored four goals in the tournament, including one in the final to help Brazil defeat Italy 4-1.

Pelé announced his retirement from soccer in 1974, but he was enticed back to the field the following year to play for the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League, helping to make the NASL a popular destination. He played his final game for both New York and Santos in an exhibition in October 1977 and retired with a total of 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.

Death and Legacy

Pelé’s retirement had little effect on his public profile, as he remained a popular pitchman and active in a variety of professional arenas.

Pelé received the International Peace Award in 1978 for his work with UNICEF. He was also Brazil’s Extraordinary Minister of Sport and a United Nations Environment Programme ambassador.

Pelé and Argentine Diego Maradona were named FIFA’s “Co-Players of the Century” in 1999. To many, his achievements on the soccer field will never be matched, and almost all great athletes in the sport are measured against the Brazilian who once stopped the world to watch his transcendent play.

Pelé died in So Paulo, Brazil, on December 29, 2022. He was 82 years old at the time.


Pelé married three times and had several affairs, giving birth to a number of children.

Pelé married Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi in 1966. Kelly Cristina and Jennifer were their two daughters and one son.

Pelé was romantically involved with TV presenter Xuxa from 1981 to 1986.

Pelé married psychologist and gospel singer Assria Lemos Seixas in April 1994, and they had twins Joshua and Celeste. They divorced in 2008

Pelé had at least two more children from previous affairs. Sandra Machado, who was born from Pelé’s affair with a housemaid, Anizia Machado, in 1964, fought for years to be recognized by Pelé, who refused to submit to DNA testing. Pelé finally relented after a court-ordered DNA test proved she was his daughter.

Pelé announced his intention to marry Marcia Aoki, a 41-year-old Japanese-Brazilian importer of medical equipment from Penápolis, So Paulo, whom he had been dating since 2010. They tied the knot in July 2016.

Net worth

Pelé’s net worth at his time of death is reportedly estimated at $100 million USD.




  • Campeonato Brasileiro Série A: 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968
  • Copa Libertadores: 1962, 1963
  • Intercontinental Cup: 1962, 1963
  • Intercontinental Supercup: 1968
  • Campeonato Paulista: 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1973
  • Torneio Rio-São Paulo: 1959, 1963, 1964, 1966

New York Cosmos

  • North American Soccer League, Soccer Bowl: 1977
  • North American Soccer League, Atlantic Conference Championship: 1977


  • FIFA World Cup: 1958, 1962, 1970
  • Taça do Atlântico: 1960
  • Roca Cup: 1957, 1963
  • Taça Oswaldo Cruz: 1958, 1962, 1968
  • Copa Bernardo O’Higgins: 1959

Pele’s Individual Awards

  • FIFA World Cup Best Young Player
  • FIFA World Cup Silver Ball
  • South American Championship Best Player
  • South American Championship Top Scorer
  • Intercontinental Cup Top Scorer
  • BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball (Best Player)
  • South American Footballer of the Year
  • NASL Top Assist Provider
  • NASL Most Valuable Player
  • Elected Citizen of the World, by the United Nations
  • International Peace Award
  • FIFA Order of Merit
  • American National Soccer Hall of Fame
  • UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
  • Marca Leyenda
  • World Team of the 20th Century
  • Football Player of the Century
  • TIME: One of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century
  • Greatest Player of the 20th Century
  • Athlete of the Century, by Reuters News Agency
  • Athlete of the Century
  • World Player of the Century
  • FIFA Player of the Century
  • Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award
  • FIFA Centennial Award
  • FIFA 100 Greatest Living Footballers
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award: 2005[253]
  • IFFHS Elected best Brazilian player of the century, by the 
  • Greatest football player to have ever played the game, by Golden Foot
  • FIFA Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur
  • World Soccer Greatest XI of All Time
  • Legends of Football Award
  • GQ Inspiration Award
  • Global Citizen Award
  • FWA Tribute Award
  • Ballon d’Or Dream Team
  • IFFHS All-time Men’s Dream Team
  • IFFHS South America Men’s Team of All Time


  • Knight of the Order of Rio Branco
  • Elected Commander of the Order of Rio Branco 
  • Order of Champions, USA:
  • Order of Merit of South America
  • National Order of Merit, Brazil
  • Cross of the Order of the Republic of Hungary
  • Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (honorary knighthood)
  • Olympic Order, by the International Olympic Committee


  • Joint-most goals for Brazil’s national football team: 77 (95 including unofficial friendlies) (tied with Neymar)
  • Highest goals-per-game ratio (0.84) for Brazil’s national football team
  • Highest goals-per-game ratio (0.84) of any South American top international scorer
  • Highest goals-per-game ratio (2.33) of any leading scorer in the Intercontinental Cup
  • Most goals in the Intercontinental Cup: 7
  • Most goals for Santos: 643 (in 659 competitive games)
  • Most goals scored in a single Campeonato Paulista season: 58 (in 38 competitive games,1958)
  • Most goals in a calendar year (recognised by FIFA): 127 (1959)
  • Most hat-tricks in world football: 92
  • Most career goals in world football (including friendlies): 1,283 (in 1,363 games)
  • Most FIFA World Cup winners’ medals: 3 (1958, 1962, 1970)
  • Youngest winner of a FIFA World Cup: aged 17 years and 249 days
  • Youngest goalscorer in a FIFA World Cup: aged 17 years and 239 days
  • Youngest player to score twice in a FIFA World Cup semi-final: aged 17 years and 244 days
  • Youngest player to score a hat-trick in a FIFA World Cup: aged 17 years and 244 days
  • Youngest player to play in a FIFA World Cup Final: aged 17 years and 249 days
  • Youngest goalscorer in a FIFA World Cup Final: aged 17 years and 249 days
  • Youngest player to score twice in a FIFA World Cup Final
  • Youngest player to start a knockout match at a FIFA World Cup
  • Youngest player to reach five FIFA World Cup knockout stage goals
  • Youngest goalscorer for Brazil national football team: 
  • The first player to score in three successive FIFA World Cups
  • One of only five players to have scored in four different FIFA World Cup tournaments
  • One of only five players to have scored in two different FIFA World Cup Finals
  • Scored in two FIFA World Cup Finals for winning teams (shared with Vavá)
  • Most assists provided in FIFA World Cup history: 10 
  • Most assists provided in a single FIFA World Cup tournament
  • Most assists provided in FIFA World Cup Final matches
  • Most assists provided in FIFA World Cup knockout phase: 6 (shared with Messi)
  • Most goals from open play in FIFA World Cup Final matches: 3 
  • The only player to reach 25 international goals as a teenager
  • The only player to score in a FIFA World Cup before turning 18
  • The only player to score a hat-trick in a FIFA World cup before turning 18
  • The only player to have scored a hat-trick in the Intercontinental Cup


Pelé was investigated by the Brazilian military dictatorship in 1970 for alleged leftist sympathies. According to declassified documents, Pelé was investigated after receiving a manifesto calling for the release of political prisoners.


The information in this article was curated from online sources. NewsWireNGR or its editorial team cannot independently verify all details.

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