Happy Birthday Pele: This is How the Iconic Footballer Learned to Play with Just a Bundle of Old Socks and Grapefruit
Pele (Photo Credit: AP)
Legendary footballer Pele turned 80 today. He first shot to fame in 1958 after winning the football world cup for Brazil. He was declared a national treasure by the then-Brazilian President.
Things were not always as good for the Brazilian footballer who grew up in poverty. Pele used to work at a tea shop to earn money. His parents could not afford to buy him a football and as shown in his biopic Pele: Birth of a Legend, Pele would practice the sport with old socks filled with newspapers or with grapefruit.
As a child, Pele was taught football by his father Joao Ramos do Nascimento, who was a footballer himself. After the 1950 defeat of Brazil in the football world cup, Pele, just nine years old then, promised his heartbroken father that he would get the cup home.
In 1958, Pele kept his word and even scored the last goal of the match against Sweden, defeating the host country of the FIFA World Cup.
Sharing the lessons his father gave him, Pele said that he suggested that the footballer should train his weakest spots. Pele said that he started training with his left leg as he used to play with the right one. Speaking about his father’s lesson, Pele shared that Joao had said if he trains with his eyes closed, he will never see the ball. "Train to head the ball with your eyes open," his father had said, shared Pele as reported by USA Today.
There are many achievements attached to the name of this Brazilian footballer. In the FIFA World Cup, he was a part of the winning side thrice — 1958, 1962, 1970.
Pele is not only a great footballer but also a humanitarian. In 1992, the UN appointed him as an ambassador for ecology and environment. He has seen poverty closely and understands its effect on the development of children. Pele has supported anti-poverty development goals set by the UN.