He began his professional football career with Brazilian club Santos, for whom he played from 1956 to 1974. During that time, Santos won loads of silverware, including ten league titles and five Taça Brasil trophies. Pelé made 656 official appearances for Santos in all competitions, scoring 643 goals. He was the Brazilian top flight's top scorer eleven times.
Between 1957 and 1971, he made 92 appearances for the Brazilian national team. He scored 77 goals, making him the national team's all-time top scorer. Along the way, he became the only footballer to be a member of three World Cup-winning teams (1958, 1962, 1970).
In 1975, he signed with the New York Cosmos, helping them to the league title in 1977.
He played his last match on 1 October 1977, an exhibition between the Cosmos and Santos. Pelé played the first half for New York, scoring on a free kick. He then switched sides to play for Santos in the second half. New York won 2-1. After the match, several Cosmos players carried Pelé around the field while he held up the flags of Brazil and the United States.
Pelé reportedly acquired his nickname as a schoolboy due to his mispronounciation of the last name of Vasco de Gama goalkeeper Bilé.