The terrifying sight that ended Pele’s first dream and gave him nightmares

One of the greatest strikers in football history turns 80 on Friday.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento – known to fans the world over as Pelé – is one of the most recognisable figures in world football.

During his 21-year career, the Brazilian icon lifted the World Cup three times in his country’s famous yellow shirt, along with numerous trophies and accolades at club level.

He also scored more than 750 goals during his professional career, including more than 500 league strikes.

To this day he remains Brazil’s leading goalscorer, finding the net 77 times for his country.

But it could have been so different.

Childhood in Brazil

Pelé was born in the Brazilian town of Três Corações on October 23 1940. His birth name, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was in honour of Thomas Edison, the American inventor who helped pioneer the use of electricity in the late 19th century and early 1900s.

In 2014 Pelé said he was named after Edioson “because electricity had just been introduced to my hometown in Brazil when I was born”.

The young grew up in poverty in Bauru in the state of Sao Paulo.

His father, João Ramos do Nascimento, was a footballer better known as Dondinho.

During this time, footballers in Brazil were paid very little, and Dondinho played for a number of small clubs.

Nevertheless, he became Pelé’s first coach, teaching his son how to play football, not that they had a football.

Pelé’s family was so poor during this time that the kid who would go on to become Brazil’s record goalscorer had to make do with kicking around a stuffed sock.

Pelé’s first dream

Pele holding one of Santos' trophies
Pele’s first dream was nothing to do with football

Surprisingly, football wasn’t Pelé’s first career choice.

Between the ages of seven and eight, he dreamed of becoming a pilot.

I would go down to the Aero Club to watch planes and gliders doing manoeuvres,” he recalled in his autobiography.

“I was desperate to be a pilot and whenever I could I would scoot off, even skip school, to head down to the airfield and marvel at the planes being readied for take-off or coming in to land and the pilots going about their business.”

That ambition came to a shuddering halt one afternoon when he saw the body of a glider pilot who had been killed in a crash.

Pelé and his friends saw the body laid out on the slab through a dirty morgue window. When the mortuary attendant attempted to move the pilot’s arm, a gush of blood spurted out.

“It was a terrifying sight, like something from a movie, and the image remained burned in my mind for days and nights afterwards. It gave me nightmares.

“I would often awake screaming, both at home and, even later, after I’d moved to Santos. I didn’t like the dark – it scared me. I never went back to the Aero Club.”

Record-breaking football career

Pele playing for Santos
Pele signed for Santos at the age of 15

After that, attention turned to football.

During his mid-teens he played indoor football, winning the first Indoor Football Tournament in 1955 with a team called Radium.

He was soon scouted and invited to a trial with Brazilian giants Santos, signing a professional contract in June 1956.

After scoring on his Santos debut at the age of 15, Pelé burst onto the world stage in 1958 when he inspired Brazil to World Cup glory.

From the quarter-finals onwards he scored six goals, including a semi-final hat-trick against France and two in the final as Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 to lift the Jules Rimet trophy.

He helped Brazil defend their World Cup crown in 1962 and reclaim it in 1970, again scoring in the final when they beat Italy 4-1.

Pele celebrates scoring for Brazil in the 1970 World Cup
Pele won the World Cup three times with Brazil

At club level he helped Santos to six Campeonato Brasileiro Série A league titles between 1961 and 1968, as well as two Copa Libertadores triumphs and two Intercontinental Cups.

During this time he scored hundreds of goals.

Data provided last year by RSSSF puts his tally from official matches at a mightily impressive 767 from 831 games, featuring 538 goals in league matches and 77 international goals.

The three-time World Cup winner claims to have scored a world-record total of 1,281 goals from 1,363 games. However, that includes a number of amateur matches, unofficial friendlies and other unrecorded fixtures.

Google tribute

To mark Pelé 80th birthday, Google has created a hidden birthday tribute.

To find it, simply search his name on your phone or desktop.

Then, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the search results page, where the usual Google search page icons have been replaced with “Gooooooooooal!”.

On #10, the ‘o’ has been replaced with a bouncing football, to honour Pelé iconic shirt number.

Tap on that and a fun animation will appear, showing the ‘Go’ booting the ball past the ‘a’ and into a goal made out of the ‘l’.

source.



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