In 1958, Pelé joined the Brazilian World Cup team as the youngest player to ever compete in such an event. By the end, he would also be the youngest player to ever score and win the cup. It was clear from this moment onward, that Pelé was a football player unlike any who had come before.
This specimen is a section from a leather practice ball that was owned and used by Pelé, acquired at auction in 2016. It is a piece of football history perfect for any sports memorabilia collection.
The Practice Ball of a Legend
1,363 games, 1,283 goals, 3 World Cup championships. Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, was a legend in the world of football.
At the age of 17, Pelé joined the 1958 Brazilian World Cup team and shocked the world with his skills. He was the youngest player to enter, score, and win in a World Cup tournament and ran circles around his competition. One thing was immediately clear: he was going to change the game.
Pelé's incredible prowess and skill gave him the nickname the King of Football. He was loved by players, fans, and people around the world and after his retirement for the game he became a powerful icon of international peace.
When he passed away early in 2022, Pelé's funeral brought a three day national mourning period as tens of thousands of fans waited to pay their respects at his public wake. He was one of the greatest football players of all time — and an incredible human being.
This specimen is an authentic section of a practice ball that Pelé owned and used to keep his skills sharp. The plain leather ball was acquired by auction in London, England in 2016. This auction was the most lucrative sale of football memorabilia in history.
Each specimen is hand cut and may exhibit differences in color and texture. The specimen is enclosed in a handsome, glass-topped riker box case measuring 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card which serves as the authenticity statement is also included.
📸 Pelé at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico
MORE ABOUT Pelé
The King of Football
Like many Brazilians, Edson Arantes do Nascimento was known by many names. He was called "Dico" by his family and "Gasolina" because he was so fast, but the one name that really stuck was Pelé.
"Pelé" has no actual meaning in Portuguese, but the life of the greatest soccer player of all time has been anything but meaningless.
Born on October 23rd, 1940 in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Pelé grew up very poor, but loved by his family. His father, João Ramos do Nascimento, also known as "Dondinho", was a gifted soccer player in his own right, but his career prospects were cut short by an early knee injury from which he never fully recovered. Dondinho never lost his love of the game though and he worked hard to train his son and shape the young boy's natural talent.
Pelé rose quickly, joining the professional football club Santos at age 15 and scoring a goal in his very first game off the bench. At just 17, Pelé was called up to the National Team, and he was introduced to the world at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.
Entering late in group play, Pelé stole the world's heart with his energetic and sometimes outrageous style of play. In the semi-final against France, Pelé scored three goals. Then in the final against host country Sweden, Pelé scored two goals in the second half, helping to bring home Brazil's very first World Cup trophy.
The Greatest Player of All Time
Following this incredible early success, Pelé went on to score 1283 career goals and played on two more winning World Cup teams (1962, 1970). Those who met him on the field used words like "flawless" and "magical", sowing seeds for the legend that would lead to yet another nickname - "The King".
After retiring from play, Pelé traveled the world promoting soccer and serving as an inspiration for millions of people. His lasting legacy is one of peace and sportsmanship. Yet, despite climbing to such heights in the eyes of the world, Pelé tried to maintain a sense of self and humility as a human being.
To give some sense of his impact it seems fitting to share the words of Nelson Mandela who presented Pelé with the very first Laureus World Sports lifetime achievement award in 2000:
Peace is the greatest weapon mankind has to resolve even the most intractable difficulties. But to be an effective agent for peace, you have to seek not only to change the community and the world. What is more difficult is to change yourself before you seek to change others. Only those who have the courage to change themselves and to know that in all communities without exception there are good men and women who want to serve their communities.
In regards to the peaceful resolution of their problems and it is absolutely essential for the leaders of the community and the world to create an atmosphere where those good men and woman can show their maximum abilities in trying to resolve problems in a peaceful manner and that is why a legend like Pele and all of these behind me are our heroes, our hope because whatever they do in their respective fields they are promoting peace. These are monarchs, they are queens and kings, not as a result of heredity, but as a result of their personal commitment and efforts.
To watch him play was to watch the delight of a child combined with the extraordinary grace of a man in full. - Nelson Mandela, 2000.
📸 A practice ball used by Pelé
He often described "being Pelé" almost as if the man on the field were someone else entirely. After retirement, he looked back fondly on his earliest days as Edson, the boy who shined shoes to help raise money for his family, and played his first soccer with a ball that was "really just a bunch of socks tied together."
After a long career playing soccer and another long career as an advocate of peace and education, Pelé died on December 29th, 2022 at the age of 82 of colon cancer. Across a three day period of national mourning, tens of thousands of fans waited for hours to pay their respects to the sports legend at his public wake.
This specimen comes from a vintage leather football owned by Pelé and acquired by auction in London, England in 2016. This personal auction was the most lucrative sale of football memorabilia in history.
Front of the Specimen Card
Back of the Specimen Card
Nicas, J. (2023, January 2). 'Long Live the King:' Brazil Lines Up to Honor Pelé. The New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/02/sports/soccer/pele-funeral.html
"Pelé. Winter, Brian. 2014. Why Soccer Matters. New York: Penguin.