The life of the Brazilian legend, Pele, who passed away Thursday at the age of 82, was full of events outside the green rectangle, such as his career full of numbers and achievements within it, as he married three times, suffered turbulent relations with his children, and concluded groundbreaking sponsorship deals that helped modern-day players fill their pockets.
AFP takes a look at the other side of the No. 10’s life.
“Talk to your doctor.”
Pele has been involved in deals that have allowed current players to charge huge sums of money from the popular game. He made millions by promoting MasterCard and Visa, which specialize in credit card payment systems, as well as sandals made from recycled tire parts.
In her book “Sneaker Wars”, Barbara Smit tells in detail how Pele in the 1970 World Cup signed an agreement with the “Puma” sportswear company, according to which he received $ 25,000 in the tournament at the time, in addition to $ 100,000 in the following four years, which led to a decline In sales of other important brand shoes.
The deal, which broke an agreement between “Puma” and its rival, “Adidas”, stipulates not to sign with Pele because of the cost that will result from the bidding struggle, provided that the Brazilian wears the shoes before the quarter-final match against Peru.
He actually did that, which led to his being paid the equivalent of $2.85 million today, not counting what he earned from shoe sales.
However, his most famous promotional campaign was for the drug “Viagra” to combat impotence in 2002, when he appeared in videos inside the famous “Maracana” stadium in Rio de Janeiro, saying: “Talk to your doctor, I will do it.”
In the same year, he was appointed Japan’s first educational ambassador for the treatment of erectile dysfunction due to his advertising campaign for the drug. However, Pele claimed that he had never used Viagra.
Troubled family life
The three-time World Cup winner has often been considered a safe and corporate friend unlike the late Argentine legend, Diego Armando Maradona, who have always been compared to the title of the best footballer in history. However, the Brazilian’s personal life was turbulent, similar to that of the golden boy.
His son, Edinho, who was born two months after the Samba team won the 1970 World Cup, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2017 on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.
During an interview in the same year with the “Bleacher Report” website, Edinho recounted how Pele was no longer a good father after he moved with the family to New York to join the Cosmos team in the mid-1970s, and his separation from his first wife, Rose Meri dos Reis Scholby, shortly after his arrival in United States.
He later reconciled with Edinho to play the latter with the Santos club in which Pele grew up, but his relationship with his first daughter was not good.
He refused to recognize Sandra Arantes do Nascimento, who was born in 1964, following a relationship with a maid, although Brazilian courts confirmed in 1996 that she was his daughter after five years of legal battles.
She published a book entitled “The Daughter That the King Didn’t Want” and was elected to the Santos City Council.
She passed away in 2006 at the age of 42 from breast cancer. Pele refused to attend her funeral, nor did he acknowledge her two sons.
At the age of 76, he married for the third time in 2016, to businesswoman Marcia Ayuki, who was only 42 years old at the time.
They met in New York in the eighties, but their relationship began in 2010 after they met by chance in an elevator in Sao Paulo.
between cinema and music
Pele’s life was not limited to football and promotional campaigns, but he also had a distinguished experience in the world of cinema, and perhaps his most prominent role was Corporal Luis Fernandez in the classic movie “Escape to Victory(Escape to Victory), along with the famous American actors, Sylvester Stallone, and the Englishman, Michael Caine, who narrates the attempt of a group of prisoners of war to escape from a German concentration camp during World War II.
Also among his works were the movie “A Minor Miracle” (a little miracle), which tells the story of a priest who asks Pele to help save an orphanage, and the series “Os Estranos” (Strangers) about man’s relationship with aliens.
He also had a brief appearance in the comedy film “Mike Bassett: England Manager (England Coach)”, while he refused to appear in an American “ESBN” documentary about the New York Cosmos club, because the producers refused to give him the $ 100,000 he asked for.
Pele is also no stranger to the world of music, as he began recording songs in the sixties of the last century. In 2006, he released an album called “Pele Ginga” in collaboration with the famous Brazilian artist and songwriter Gilberto Gil.
A decade later, he released the song “Esperanca(Hope) to celebrate the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where the prestigious event was held for the first time in South America.
On the occasion of his eightieth birthday in 2020, he recorded a song with the Mexican duo Rodrigo and Gabriel, who was crowned with a “Grammy” award for music, describing it as “a small gift for his birthday and for the fans.”
Siege in Lagos
One of the most horrific experiences of his life occurred during a Pepsi-sponsored trip to Lagos, Nigeria in 1976 when a failed military coup took place.
The then ruler, General Murtala Muhammed, was assassinated in the coup attempt that led to the execution by firing squad of Colonel Buka Soka Dimka, who had been removed from power by government forces within hours.
Pele was in the country with the late American tennis player, Arthur Ashe, who was participating in the Lagos tournament.
The then Wimbledon champion was dragged off the court by armed soldiers during his semi-final match with compatriot Jeff Boroviak, and ended up at the Federal Palace Hotel with the Brazilian.
Pele was smuggled out of the country as soon as the government opened the borders, with Brazilian authorities insisting that his star wear a pilot’s uniform to hide his identity.