Pelé (pālāˈ) [key], 1940–, Brazilian soccer (football) player. His real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Perhaps the greatest player in the history of soccer, Pelé began playing at the age of 5 and joined the Santos team at 16. Playing inside left forward, he led his team to numerous championships and the Brazilian national team to world championships in 1958, 1962, and 1970. He held every scoring record in Brazil, and in international matches he scored an average of one goal per game. His playing style was marked by superb ball control and great tactical ability. In 1971 he retired from the Brazilian national team but continued to play with Santos. He retired (1974) from the Santos team and played in the United States with the New York Cosmos (1975–77). He scored 1,281 goals during his career. Pelé became Brazil's minister of sports in 1995, serving until 1998.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.