Pelé in 2010. Wikimedia Commons
Pelé in 2010. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Pelé has died. What books are there to read about the Brazilian soccer star?

AL DÍA recommends four books to learn about the life and achievements of one of the greatest soccer players of all time


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Even people who have no idea about soccer know Pelé, considered the best soccer player of all time. But how did this man, born in the poverty of a São Paulo region, become a world idol? Here's four books to learn the legend.

Why Soccer Matters: A Look at More Than Sixty Years of International Soccer

 In Why Soccer Matters, legendary footballer Pelé explores the sport’s recent history and shares his most inspiring experiences, heartwarming stories, and hard-won wisdom.

“I know in my heart that soccer was good to me, and great to the world... I saw, time and again, how the sport improved countless millions of lives, both on and off the field. For me, at least, that’s why soccer matters,” reads a major passage from the text.

The greatest player of all time was Pelé. Before Messi, before Ronaldo, before Beckham, Pelé had a stunning 20-year career, where he was heralded as an international treasure. His accomplishments on the field proved to be pure magic — an unprecedented three World Cup championships and the all-time scoring record, with 1,283 goals. Since retiring, he has traveled the world as soccer’s global ambassador, relentlessly promoting the positive ways soccer can transform young men and women, struggling communities, even entire nations.

This is Pelé’s legacy, his way of passing on everything he’s learned and inspiring a new generation. 

memoirs pele

Pelé: The King of Soccer

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known to his schoolmates as Pelé, grew up in poverty in the São Paulo region of Brazil. He was too poor to afford a real soccer ball, so he played with a ball of newspaper tied together with string. 

In the graphic novel, Pelé: The King of Soccer, Eddy Simon and Vincent Brascaglia beautifully depict Pelé's rise from the slums of Brazil to the national stage.

Pelé dominated the youth leagues and signed his first professional soccer contract at the age of 15. Within two years, he was celebrated internationally when he led Brazil to victory at the World Cup. Known by his fans as 'O Rei' ('The King'), Pelé is widely regarded as the greatest soccer player of all time. But he's more than just an athlete: he also traveled the world as goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Pelé is the living symbol of a sport he dubbed "the beautiful game" — a game that brings people together regardless of race or nationality.

pele king of soccer

Pelé: His Life and Times

With exclusive access to Pelé, award-winning sports writer Harry Harris charts his meteoric rise from humble beginnings in Brazil to his first international at the age of 16. Superb athleticism, speed of thought and execution, and astonishing ball control helped him become the only player to have appeared in three World Cup-winning sides, and to have scored more than 1,200 goals in his senior career, a feat that is now unlikely ever to be equaled, let alone surpassed.

Pelé remains the best soccer player of all time, despite the extraordinary exploits of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, and legends such as Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff. Now revised and updated to bring the story completely up to date, this is a tribute to a world-class sporting hero, a great sportsman and, to this day, an inspiration to millions.

Pele book

Pelé: The Autobiography 

From the poverty-stricken streets of São Paulo to an international icon and one of the most celebrated footballers of all time, Pelé's life story is as extraordinary as it is enrapturing. With his trademark wit and deference, the legend draws us into a wonderful story lit by insight and humor and encompassing everything you ever wanted to know about the great man himself.

From shining shoes for extra pennies at the Baru Athletic Club to triumphing in several World Cups, the glory of being on top of the world — and staying there — is shared in what is undoubtedly one of the must-read autobiographies of the year. On top of his athletic achievements, Pelé has also been a staunch campaigner for human rights and in particular the plight of street children in his home country, leading to an appointment as a UN Ambassador and an honorary knighthood from the British monarchy.

By turns addictive, moving and enlightening, this is the ultimate story of the rise of a star and an amazing testimony to how even the lowliest of society's people can reach the dizzying heights of worldwide adoration and success.

pele autobiography


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