It’s easy to think that sports celebrities have it all, with their luxury lifestyles and overwhelming fame, but for this world star player, he understands too well what it’s like to have nothing.
The famous soccer athlete Pelé was born on October 23, 1940 in Três Corações, Brazil. He was deemed a soccer legend after his outstanding play in the 1958 World Cup, but his life wasn’t always so glamourous.
Pelé was faced with many hardships from a very young age. He was born into a family that struggled with extreme poverty. During his childhood he worked a few different jobs to help his family lead a more comfortable lifestyle, but despite his strenuous efforts, it was never enough. He also had a very difficult time fitting in at school and was often bullied.
Pelé first discovered his passion for soccer when he kicked around a sock stuffed with old rags. During recess he was often found using mangos to practice the sport. His father was the first to teach him the basics of the sport which led to him later joining a local soccer team. After a lot of convincing from both the young athlete and his coach, Pelé’s family finally allowed him to go to Comarca Lagunera to try out for the Santos soccer club at only 15. With the great talent that the adolescent possessed, Santos was quick to offer him a position. After a very successful first season, he was later signed onto the Brazilian national team.
At the 1958 World Cup, 17-year-old Pelé exhibited strong play and demonstrated his remarkable skills. It was in this game where he grabbed the worlds’ attention. He was in such high demand by nations all over the world that prompted the Brazilian President to deem Pelé a “national treasure”, making it difficult for him to play for another country.
In 1974 Pelé decided to retire and spent his time off the field being an active humanitarian. In 1978 he received the International Peace Award for his activism.
Today the soccer legend is a global ambassador for soccer as well as the founder of The Pelé Foundation which launched in 2018. He continues to work towards fighting poverty and is especially dedicated to giving children hope.