A Tribute to Pele


Michael Hum, Staff Writer

Soccer player Edson Arantes do Nascimento passed away on Dec. 29, 2022. Better known by soccer enthusiasts as “Pelé,” he was one of the best soccer players the world had ever seen. During his 21-year career as a midfielder, he scored 1,279 goals in almost 2,000 games, helped popularize soccer for a new generation of enthusiasts and players, and truly made soccer “the beautiful game.”

Edson grew up in a poverty-stricken area with Donddinho, his soccer-playing father, his caring mother, Celeste, and brother, Jair. His initial motivation for entering the sport was the 1950 World Cup. The final game, featuring Brazil playing against Uruguay, was broadcasted over Brazilian radio, where the Nascimentos could be informed about the score. The resulting 1-2 loss to Uruguay prompted the first motivational spark for the soccer player when he comforted his father over Brazil’s loss by promising to win a World Cup–for him.

Practicing with a sock stuffed with newspaper, as well as participating in indoor futsal tournaments, he was approached by Noroeste Football Club (FC) Coach Waldemar de Brito, offering him an audition for Santos FC, where Brito proclaimed that Pelé would be the best soccer player. After impressing Santos Coach Lula and passing the audition, Pelé was recruited by Santos FC, a club career spanning 18 years, starting when he was 15, one of the youngest players in soccer’s history.

When Pelé was 17-years-old, Brazil recruited him to participate in the 1958 World Cup. With Pelé helping Brazil’s three knockout games, the Brazilian national team finally had their World Cup championship title, fulfilling his father’s dream of winning a World Cup for Brazil. The following World Cups, held in Chile in 1962 and Mexico in 1970, resulted in two more championships for Brazil, 

Pele’s skills led other non-Brazilian clubs, which included scoring over 260 years in one year alone, such as the Italian Inter Milan and Juventus and Spanish Real Madrid, to encourage Pelé to join their roster. As a result of this foreign competition, the Brazilian government has labeled Pelé a “national treasure,” preventing other foreign teams from recruiting Pelé to their teams. To this day, he is the only player to be declared as such. The resulting bar on Pelé led him to continue playing in Brazilian leagues, resulting in his long career at Santos FC before retiring from Brazilian soccer in 1974. 

Following soccer, he participated in many ambassadorial and charitable positions for international agencies, promoting his overall message of international peace and love. He continued this work until he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2021, sadly dyinga year later. 

Pelé’s death launched soccer fans everywhere into a period of mourning. Soccer enthusiasts everywhere mourned the death of Pelé, with FIFA releasing an official tribute and other notable soccer players releasing their statement for Pelé, proclaiming their inspiration for soccer as a result of Pelé himself. Rest in peace, Pelé.

Photo Courtesy of FLICKR