Pele: Key dates in life of a football legend

football29 December 2022 21:53| © AFP

After the death of Pele at age 82 in Sao Paulo on Thursday, AFP Sport looks at key dates in the life of the football great:

RELIVE The best of Pele on SuperSport Football, Access and GoTV throughout the day. Content also available on Showmax and CatchUp.

23rd October 1940:

Pele was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento into a modest family in Minas Gerais to the north of Rio de Jaineiro. His father was a keen amateur footballer.


The name Pele came about when the three-year-old was supporting a footballing friend of his father by the name of Bile. Unable to pronounce the name Pele came out instead and the name then stuck for the rest of his life.

7th September 1956:

Pele played his first match for Brazilian club Santos, where he would stay for 18 years.

7th July 1957:

At just 16 years and 9 months, Pele turned out for Brazil in a Copa America match against Argentina at the Maracana stadium where he would score the first of his 77 goals in his international career.

29th June 1958:

Pele shoots to global fame, scoring twice in the World Cup final in a 5-2 win for Brazil over hosts Sweden. To this day he remains the youngest man to play in a final, and of course the youngest man to score in one.


After four seasons of triumph with Santos he played at a second World Cup in Chile. Injury saw him watch much of the tournament from the bench while his compatriot Garrincha provided the fireworks in another title triumph.


A third World Cup but Pele was victim of severe fouling from opposition teams as Brazil fall at the first round.

19th November 1969:

Pele scores his 1000th goal converting a spot-kick for Santos against Vasco de Gama. The game was held up for 20 minutes as he ran a lap of honour around the stadium.

21st June 1970:

Pele leads Brazil to his third World Cup and he remains the only player to have won three. His game and his goals were those of a man at the peak of his powers with his header in the 4-1 win over Italy in the final one of football's most iconic moments.

18th July 1971:

Pele plays his final game for Brazil aged just 30 in a 2-2 draw with Yugoslavia at the Maracana stadium.

10th June 1975:

The 34-year-old Pele joins New York Cosmos and helps launch the 'soccer' revolution in the United States.

1st October 1977:

In the final game of his career Pele played the first half for Cosmos and the second half for Santos at the Giants stadium in New York. The Fifa statistics say it all – 1 363 games and 1 281 goals.


Pele was appointed Minister of Sports for Brazil, a post that at that time had never been occupied by a black man.

1999: He was honoured as the Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee. A year later Fifa honoured him with the Footballer of the Century award.

29th December 2022:

Pele dies aged 82.