For many football fans Edison Arantes do Nascimento - better known to the world as Pelé - is simply the greatest player that ever lived. On 23 October the Brazilian star, who won three World Cup titles, celebrated his 60th birthday. For this special occasion, FIFA Magazine is showing some impressive and rarely printed photos of Pelé as a young man, both as a footballer and in his private life.
Even while he was still playing, Pelé became a legend, a myth and a living memorial to the game of football. He won the FIFA World Cup three times with Brazil: in 1958, 1962 and 1970. During his illustrious career, which began in 1956 with FC Santos and ended in 1977 with New York Cosmos, he scored an incredible 1281 goals in 1363 official matches.
The youngest World Cup winner of all time - he was only 17 when Brazil won the title in 1958 - was born on 23 October 1940 into a poor family in Tres Coracoes. His mother Celeste wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer, but all that her son, whom everyone called Dico at the time, wanted to do was play football.
In 1950 he joined Bauru Athletic club. Five years later the fast and unusually skillful forward was discovered by
FC Santos, and in 1956 the club offered him a professional contract. In his very first game for them, still only 15, he scored a goal. On 7 July 1957 he was called up into the national team for a match against Argentina; it ended 1:2, but again he scored a goal. 14 years later, on 18 July 1971, he played his 92nd and last international match; 180,000 people came to the Marcana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro to say goodbye to "King Pelé". The match against Yugoslavia ended 2:2.
After hanging up his boots, Pelé became an ambassador for the game, both in advertising for major companies and also on behalf of charities, such as children's welfare and health organisations. He was also active within the game itself, but never let all the fame and attention turn his head; he remained the modest, sympathetic and intelligent person that he had always been. He also worked for the Brazilian government and was their Minister of Sports from 1994 to 1998.
In 1998 FIFA founded its Football Committee and since then Pelé has been an active member of this elite group and is always a welcome guest at FIFA House.