Pele, one of the greatest men to ever play the game of football turned 80-year-old today, October 23, which makes him the oldest Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) alive.
His relevance in the game of football has never seized despite retiring from the sport in 1977. Since then, he has been involved in so many humanitarian activities as a worldwide ambassador for football. He has also been making a couple of acting and commercial ventures before old age stopped him.
Pele and football
Pele who is now 80-year-old and currently in his ancestral home in Brazil started the game of football professionally with Brazilian side Santos at the age of 15. His brilliance on the field of play earned him his first call up to Brazil national team when he was just 16-year-old.
While playing for Brazil national team, Pele led the team to win three FIFA World Cup. He won the first title when he was 17-year-old. The legendary footballer went on to win two more World Cups, 1962 and 1970, making him the first and only footballer, death or alive, to win the prestigious trophy three times in a lifetime.
Even though he has retired from national team football since 1971, no Brazilian player has been able to equal Pele’s record as the all-time highest goalscorer of the Brazil national team. He scored 77 goals in 92 games throughout his international career.
Since Brazil’s government declared Pele a national treasure, no club outside Brazil was able to sign him. He remained in Brazil as the highest-paid athlete in the world in the 20th century.
While playing club football in Brazil, Pele spent the best part of his illustrious football career at Santos where he scored over 643 goals to become the club’s all-time highest goalscorer. He went on to play for another Brazilian club, New York Cosmos where he scored 37 goals in 64 appearances before he retired from professional football in 1977.
Pele’s prominent records
Pele has won everything in football except the prestigious Ballon d’Or because, during his playing days, the award could only be given to players from Europe. This practice ended in 1995 when Pele has already retired from football.
Below are some of the unbroken records of Pele:
- Brazil national team all-time highest goalscorer (77 competitive goals).
- South America all-time highest goalscorer in international competitions (77 goals).
- Santos All-time highest goalscorer (643 goals).
- Guinness World Records: Most career goals (football): 1283 goals in 1363 games.
- Guinness World Records: Most FIFA World Cup winners’ medals: three.
- Record Top scorer in a calendar year: in 1959 – 127 goals
- Guinness World Records: Youngest winner of a FIFA World Cup: 17 years and 249 days in the 1958 FIFA World Cup.
- Youngest player to score a hat-trick in a FIFA World Cup: 17 years and 244 days (Brazil v France 1958).
- Most assists provided in FIFA World Cup history: 10, (1958–1970).
- Youngest two-time FIFA World Cup winner: in 1958 – Brazil (17 years) and 1962 – Brazil (21 years)
Pele’s Wives and Children
Pele is not as perfect as he was on the pitch when you compare his football and his love life. Officially, Pele is known to have married three wives amidst numerous love affairs across the world. The marriage produced numerous children, some of which he refused to accept.
Pele married his first wife, Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi on 21 February 1966 and divorced her in 1982 after bearing three children together – Kelly Cristina (born 13 January 1967), Jennifer (b. 1978), and Edson (“Edinho”, b. 27 August 1970).
After a couple of relationships, Pele settled for a gospel musician, Assíria Lemos Seixas, and married her in April 1994. They both have twice, Joshua and Celeste, who were born through fertility treatment on 28 September 1996 before they divorced in 2008.
From there, Pele continued to have more love affairs until 2010 when he met Marcia Aoki, a Japanese-Brazilian importer of medical equipment who was at least 25 years younger than the retired footballer. They both married in July 2016.
Officially, the 80-year-old football icon has 7 children and only Marcia Aoki has not had children for him until date.
Pele’s state of health
Pele is currently battling a lot of health issues. It was first reported that he had removed his right kidney. This report went viral in 1977. In November 2012, the football icon carried out a hip operation.
The world was stunned in December 2017 when he made a public appearance in a wheelchair at the 2018 World Cup draw in Moscow, Russia. In that same year, a report went viral that Pele had collapsed and was taken to hospital in Brazil.
In 2019, Pele underwent another operation to remove kidney stones which have added to his inability to walk independently. This has remained his current state of health to date.