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Edison Arantes do Nascimento or Pelé (born 23 October 1940 — died 29 December 2022) is generally regarded as the greatest player in football history, but he was also an unwitting Viagra spokesman.

Unlike the aristocratic Kaka, Pelé’s tale is one of rags to riches. As a child he was a servant and allegedly played football with a grapefruit because he couldn’t afford a ball. Even this was a luxury for the young man who had spent his infancy booting a pineapple around.

At the start of his career, Pelé signed for Santos, telling them he would be the greatest player in the world. Santos decided that was something they could do with and Pelé began 18 years of heroics for the Brazilian outfit.

After World Cup 1962, a number of European sides tried to sign Pelé but the Brazilian government declared him to be a ‘national treasure’ preventing his sale. This distinction was only shown to the very greatest Brazilian stars such as Garrincha, Gerson and later for a period Roque Junior.

Attempts on Pelé’s life[]

Sadly Pelé’s silky skills marked him out as a victim for an almost endless stream of potentially career-ending tackles.

After becoming the youngest World Cup goal scorer in 1958, teams were ready for the gifted marksman in 1966 and set about trying to kick the living daylights out of him.

Most teams employed one or two men to repeatedly kick Pelé in the shins for the full 90 minutes. Portugal took things one step further when they successfully felled the superstar with six horrific tackles and the use of a harpoon. Brazil lost and Pelé threatened to boycott future World Cups.

However, Pelé was coaxed back for the 1970 competition after FIFA’s Article 29 was introduced stating that: “teams cannot spend the full 90 minutes trying to butcher the other side’s best player.”

Brazil won the trophy with arguably the greatest side of all-time, eviscerating Italy in the final. Tarcisio Burgnich, who marked Pelé in the final, famously stated after the game: “"I told myself before the game, he's made of skin and bones just like everyone else — but I was wrong".

This declaration led to FIFA ordering a medical on Pelé to ensure that he was actually human. He was. Interestingly, Brazil never lost a match while they had Pelé and fellow star Garrincha on the field – a record that looks unlikely to change.

Pelé stops war[]

In 1967, the two factions involved in the Nigerian Civil War agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire so they could watch Pelé play an exhibition game in Lagos. Unfortunately, Pelé didn’t have one of his best games and was taken off early.

After retirement[]

Pelé spent most of his time compiling lists of the best players except for him and speaking in the third person. However, his great career has been tarnished by his inadvertent role as Viagra spokesman.

The impotence drug company dubbed over an interview in which Pelé described his wonder goal for Santos against Fluminense in March 1961 with a moving endorsement of the sexual aid.

Up until his death, Pelé was unaware that he was the face of Viagra.