Soccer History: Pelé

[Sports ★★]


(P1) Pelé is widely regarded as the best football player of all time. His full name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento. He was born on 23 October 1940. He comes from Brazil and he grew up in a poor area of Sao Paulo. As a child, he could not afford a football. He usually played football with an old newspaper or a grapefruit. At the age of 14, he joined a football team called Bauru in Sao Paulo. One year later Pelé joined a different team called Santos. It was clear that Pelé was a special player, and he soon started playing for the Brazil national football team.

(P2) Pelé won the world cup with Brazil when he was only 17 years old. He scored many goals and became the all-time leading scorer of Brazil. He is the only footballer to be a part of three World Cup-winning teams. In 1999, he was voted Football Player of the Century and the International Olympic Committee named Pelé the Athlete of the Century. In his career, Pelé scored 1281 goals in 1363 games. In Brazil, Pelé is seen as a national hero. Everyone else knows him as The King of Football.

WORDS: 197


VOCABULARY: regarded, afford, special, leading, century, hero


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you like to play football? Why or why not?
  3. Did you know who Pelé was before reading this article?
  4. Can you name some other famous footballers?


  1. When was Pelé born?
  2. Where did Pelé live when he was a child?
  3. How old was Pelé when he played for the Brazilian national football team and won the World Cup?
  4. What award did Pelé win in 1999?
  5. What name was given to Pelé by a lot of people?


What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • the best football player of all time (P1)
  • poor area of Sao Paulo (P1)
  • joined a football team (P1)
  • to be a part of three World Cup-winning teams (P2)

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