Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known to his schoolmates as Pelé, grew up in poverty in the Sao 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. Yet he dominated the youth leagues and signed his first professional soccer contract at the age of fifteen. 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.
In the graphic novel Pele: The King of Soccer, Eddy Simon and Vincent Brascaglia beautifully depict Pele’s rise from the slums of Brazil to the national stage.