With his death, and even before that, many had wondered what does Pelé mean?
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, not Pelé, is the real name of the Pelé. It is a well-known fact, but the choice to give him the name Edson was made to pay homage to Thomas Edison, the cunning patent hoarder and claimed inventor of the light bulb.
“I was named Edson, after Thomas Edison, because electricity had just been introduced to my hometown in Brazil when I was born,” Pelé said on Twitter a few years ago.
Why, then, Pelé? In a 2006 piece titled From Edson to Pele: My Changing Identity, which appeared in The Guardian, Pelé himself related the tale.
In the book, he refutes the claims that Pelé is the Gaelic word for football or mangled Portuguese of a Turkish immigrant yelling “the foot, stupid!” at him after a handball.
No, the soccer legend claims that the nickname is connected to a goalie by the name of Bilé who was a teammate of his father’s when he played for Vasco de Sao Lourenco.
“When I was three or four, my father, Dondinho, would take me along to Vasco training sessions,” Pelé wrote in the article. “Whenever I could, I used to nip into the goal and play around, and whenever I managed to stop a shot, I’d shout, ‘Good one, Bilé!’ or ‘Great save, Bilé!’” he added.
Edson, though, wasn’t a fan of the moniker at first. He even engaged in fight with others who called him Pelé.
“On one occasion, I punched a classmate because of it and earned a two-day suspension,” the record 3-time World Cup winner confessed.
However, as he grew angry, more children began to call him Pelé; eventually, he accepted the nickname.