Brazil football legend Pele died at age 82 on 29 December 2022. The world is paying tribute to the player considered by his peers as the “Greatest of all time”. He was crowned “The King of Football” for his achievements: in his career, Pelé scored 1,283 goals in 1,375 games, making him, for a long time, the greatest scorer in the history of the sport. He was Fifa’s Player of the Century in 2000 and was the only player to win the World Cup three times. Still, there are some stories about one of the most famous people in the world that you might not know.
1) The first Minister of Sports in Brazil was Pelé.
Pelé commanded the Sports Minister portfolio between 1995 and 1998 during Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government. The Pelé Law (number 9.615), sanctioned on 25 March 1998, abolished the so-called “passe”. This legal concept describes the bond binding the athlete to the club and conditions the transfer of a player from one club to another to the payment of a sum of money. The law also forced the professionalization of the clubs’ football departments, which started paying income tax.
For many, the decision gave players the freedom to change teams and seek more financially favourable contracts, as well as the possibility of playing in other countries more easily.
However, critics say that the measure has harmed small clubs, as it has caused them to lose an essential source of income and favoured exporting athletes from Brazil to European countries.
2) Pelé was a musician.
Pelé composed more than 100 songs. He partnered with great Brazilian musicians such as Elis Regina, Roberto Carlos and Jair Rodrigues. He also sang with international musicians like Sergio Mendes. Pele’s ex-wife, Assíria Nascimento, is a gospel singer, and he sang a song with her.
In 1997, during a national Brazilian literacy campaign for children, he sang a famous Brazilian refrain, “ABC, all children must read and write”.
3) Pelé was also an actor.
Pelé worked in films, soap operas and documentaries. Throughout his life, he performed in 16 films in national and international productions. He even acted in Hollywood in the 1982 film Escape to Victory with Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and Max von Sydow.
There are also a variety of movies about Pele’s history. “Pelé Forever”, a documentary by Anibal Massaini Neto, has been considered one of the most critical research projects about the career of the man considered the greatest player of all time.
In 2021 Netflix launched a biographical documentary about Pelé directed by Ben Nichols and David Tryhorn.
4) Pele’s father, Dondinho, was also a legendary football player.
The striker from Minas Gerais, Dondinho, entered the history of world football as the father of “The King of Football”. However, he was a famous player in the south of Minas Gerais. He was a skilled striker with the ball at his feet and a fantastic header, including scoring five goals with his head, for Yucara of Itajubá-MG, in a single game. A knee injury in 1940 hindered his career, but he only hung up his boots when he was 37, at Bauru A.C. He died of heart failure at age 79.
“My father was my biggest fan and also my biggest teacher. I always dreamed of playing like him”, said Pelé on his Instagram last Father’s Day.
5) Football is also a passion for two of Pele’s children.
Pelé had seven children: 5 daughters and two sons. His son Edinho followed in his father’s footsteps in football but played as a goalkeeper. Today, at 52, he is the coach of Londrina, a club that plays in the B Series of the Brazilian Championship. Joshua, Pelé’s other son, also tried his luck on the pitch and played for Santos’ under-20 team. Currently, he lives in the United States and works with physiology in the sports world.