On October 23, 1940, in Três Corações, a city in the Minas Gerais state of Brazil, a legend was born. Today, in a world of seven billion people, soccer is the foremost sport and Pelé (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) remains at the center of “the beautiful game” and universally recognized, respected, and revered in every corner of the globe.
Pelé started his professional career at the age of 16 for Santos Futebol Clube, a club he stayed with for nearly two decades. In 1958, he won his first World Cup for Brazil at age 17—the youngest winner ever. He went on to win another two World Cups in 1962 and 1970, making him the only person in the world today with three Jules Rimet trophies to his name. Not only is Pelé the all-time leading scorer of Santos FC and the Brazil National Team, but he is the all-time leading scorer in the history of the sport (1,283 goals in 1,366 matches).
In 1974, Pelé came out of semi-retirement to sign with the New York Cosmos for the 1975-1977 seasons and led his team to the 1977 NASL championship. After his final career match on October 1, 1977, in front of more than 75,000 fans, Pelé shouted, “Love! Love! Love!” and urged his audience to pay attention to the youth of the world.
Pelé will never forget where he came from and has a never-ending desire to give back. From his humble beginnings to his unmatched athletic feats to his post-career influence and impact on every continent—Pelé lives with great honor and pride for his birthplace. Três Corações means Three Hearts and Pelé has said, “Where I was born, where I grew up, and where I played football—they have given me three hearts too.”
Named one of the “Top 20 Most Important People of the 20th Century” (Time) and “Football Player of the Century” (FIFA), Pelé today maintains his commitment to the sport and to society by fulfilling various roles as spokesperson, ambassador, and philanthropist.