The following piece is contributed by colleague Melvin Wong…
Although Pele is regarded as one of the best soccer players ever lived, yet you often see his iconic face on media outside of a soccer field. While most world-class soccer players who retire prefer to move to a coaching role, Pele instead seems to avoid going into the managerial side of the sport and instead concentrated on enhancing the legend of his playing career and enhancing is pretty much an understatement.
Throughout his career Pele earned 760 official goals, with 541 in league championships and winning three FIFA World Cups. In total, he netted 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.
Life after soccer is nothing quiet for a high-profile person like Pele. In 1995, he was appointed as Brazil’s Extraordinary Minister for Sport and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. 2 years later in 1997, he received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. Pelé also published several autobiographies, starred in documentary and films. He appeared in the 1981 movie Escape to Victory alongside Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone. In 2009, he appeared as a virtual coach in a video game called Academy of Champions: Soccer for the Wii platform and his character plays for the Ultimate Team (Legends) for the Xbox One on FIFA 14 video game. In 2010, Pelé was appointed as the Honorary President of a revived New York Cosmos, where he played for the original team in 1976 in the North America Soccer League (NASL). In 1999 alone, The International Federation of Football History and Statistics and International Olympic Committee (IOC) named Pele Football Player of the Century and “Athlete of the Century” respectively.
Pele is perhaps the most successful soccer player on and off the field. In 2014, Forbes ranked Pelé as one of the world’s 10 highest-paid retired athletes with a current net worth of $100 million. In 2013, he was named the most influential celebrity in his native Brazil. His sponsorship deals include Volkswagen, Procter & Gamble, Banco Santander and Subway. He also has partnerships with Coca-Cola, Hublot, Golazo, and Emirates.
Pele was also the face of Mastercard, Pfizer, Coca-Cola, Nokia and Samsung. Pele is known to decline lucrative deals to promote tobacco, liquor and beer companies, citing “because I have a big responsibility. So many people trust me.”
“Pele is known by more people than Muhammad Ali,” says David Carter of Sports Business Group. “He’s the global face of a global sport” adds Rick Burton, sports marketing professor at the Syracuse University.
For a man who was the youngest ever soccer player to score a World Cup goal, when he scored a goal against Wales in 1958 World Cup and youngest player to play in a World Cup final match, his continuous legacy has stretched over 59 years until this very day, thanks to soccer and his ability to brand and market itself. He is truly the ultimate global person of sports.
About Author – Melvin Wong
Founder of Qoach (http://qoach.co) with the mission to discover the next world champion from online sports coaching. Melvin sold his first sports startup in 2016. Melvin has global sports business experience in 17 countries covering U.S, Europe, Asia and South America.