Movies, music, and television all helped Pelé to become even more famous

SAO PAULO – Whether Pelé or not nearly 1,300 goals scored All his biographers agree that the three-time world champion wrote more than 100 songs during his professional soccer career and sold more than 100,000 copies of one of his albums.

He has also appeared in cinemas, most notably in the WWII film Victory, and was one of the stars of a Brazilian comedy that brought more than 3.6 million people to the South American country’s cinemas.

Pelé, full name Edson Arantes do Nascimento, died of cancer on Thursday in a hospital in Sao Paulo. He was 82.

Pelé’s success on the soccer field made him a sports icon, but he contributed to it with many performances as an actor and singer.


“King Pele” (O Rei Pele, 1962)

Pele’s first big screen moment came in a film directed by Carlos Hugo Christensen the same year he won his second world title. The narrative begins in Pelé’s native town of Tres Coracoes, tells of his move to the rural Sao Paulo town of Bauru, and then on to Santos, where he becomes a global star.

“Victory” (1981)

Directed by John Huston, it was the film that Pele said he enjoyed the most. He played Cpl. Luis Fernandes, a soldier from Trinidad.

The plot involves prisoners of war preparing to escape from a German team in Nazi-occupied Paris. While at New York Cosmos, Pele had the chance to play with very different teammates – actors Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine.

“If I had to give myself a grade as an actor, it would be a 10,” Pelé jokingly said in several post-Victory interviews.

He also told friends that the original script saw Stallone able to score the winning goal with an overhead kick, but the American actor didn’t have the skills to do so, so he was used as the goalkeeper instead. Former England captain Bobby Moore also stars in the film, along with several other professional footballers.

Victory, widely known as Escape to Victory, grossed nearly $28 million at the box office.

“The Clumsies and the King of Football” (Os Trapalhões eo Rei do Futebol, 1986)

This was a marriage between two of Brazil’s most popular brands at the time – a recently retired Pelé and a Three Stooges-like group of comedians widely known for their TV show Os Trapalhões (The Clumsies). The film premiered three days before the 1986 World Cup final, in which Argentina, led by Diego Maradona, defeated Germany 3-2. It grossed millions in cinemas in Brazil that year.

Pelé played the role of a sports reporter named Nascimento, who replaced the injured goalkeeper of a team named Independência Futebol Clube and scored a game-winning goal from a goal kick.

Pelé has also appeared in documentaries, including This is Pelé (1974), Pelé Eterno (2004) and Cine Pelé (2011).


Brazilians are almost as obsessed with soap operas as they are with football, and Pelé has had many guest appearances. Most of his appearances have been on TV Globo’s soap operas, which are often exported to the rest of the world.

Author Ivani Ribeiro was the first to put him in television series. She cast Pelé in a show called Os Estranhos (The Strangers), in which he played the role of a famous writer who lived on an island and had alien friends.

Pelé’s last famous soap opera came in 2002’s “O Clone,” which was popular in dozens of other countries. He played himself and sang the song “Em Busca do Penta” (In Search of the Fifth). The lyrics were about Brazil winning the World Cup again. Three months later, Brazil won the World Cup for the fifth time.


“Peléginga” was his biggest hit. Recorded with a choir and an orchestra, the samba album contained 12 songs written by Pelé and was released in 2006.

Three years later, the Brazilian star wanted to record another album for international audiences and invited U2’s Bono to sing on one of the tracks. However, the Irishman was touring with his band and the project was abandoned.

Pelé also recorded with Brazilian diva Elis Regina and released an album produced by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Sergio Mendes.


Pelé was also a character in popular comics in Brazil. Cartoonist Mauricio de Sousa and Pelé, then playing for New York Cosmos, agreed in 1976 to publish children’s stories in comic format.

At first, Pele didn’t like Pelezinho’s childlike features. Sousa said in several interviews that the player wanted to be portrayed as a strong kid athlete. The cartoonist then suggested asking his children for their opinion. Both kids loved it.

Sousa used several stories from Pelé’s childhood in Pelezinho plots. The comics were published regularly from 1977 to 1986 and on special occasions thereafter. The last was in 2013 when Brazil hosted the Confederations Cup, a warm-up tournament for the following year’s World Cup in the country.


AP Sport: and

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Sarah Y. Kim

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