What was Pele’s real name and what does his nickname mean?

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The Brazilian legend's real name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento but he was given the nickname Pele when he was a young child.

Pele sadly passed away on December 29 at the age of 82 after a long battle with cancer, with the football world having come together to pay their respects to one of the most iconic players to ever play the game.

It may come as a surprise to some that the Brazilian legend wasn't actually named Pele at birth, so what was his full name and how did the nickname 'Pele' emerge?

What is Pele's real name?

Pele was named Edson Arantes do Nascimento when he was born in 1940, his parents choosing to name their son after inventor Thomas Edison.

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The Brazil icon told the Guardian back in 2006 that he was proud to be named after Edison and did not appreciate the nickname Pele.

"I thought Pele sounded horrible. It was a rubbish name. Edson sounded so much more serious and important."


Where did the nickname 'Pele' come from?

The three-time World Cup winner revealed that he's not entirely sure why he was called Pele but has a good idea of where the nickname originated from.

"I can remember the name really bugged me at first. I was really proud that I was named after Thomas Edison and wanted to be called Edson," he said.

Pele recounts how he used to mispronounce the name of Bile, a goalkeeper at Vasco de Sao Lourenco where his father played, as Pile, which then became Pele because of his "thick Minas Gerais accent."

The name then stuck when a classmate starting calling him Pele and it's now a name everyone all over the world knows.

Pele also admitted that while he had not been too keen on his nickname to start with, it was something he had grown used to over time.

He added: "Thanks to that goalie Bilé, and a classmate's little joke, I became Pele. Now it's known across the world and I don't mind it so much."