Pele’s life off the field was as eventful as his record-breaking career on it, with three marriages and a range of trailblazing sponsorship deals which helped modern-day players fill their pockets with corporate cash.
Here, we look at a side of the Brazilian superstar that often defied his squeaky-clean image:
‘Talk to your doctor’
Pele made millions by endorsing both Visa and Mastercard, and even sandals made with recycled tyre parts.
In her book “Sneaker Wars”, Barbara Smit details how, during the 1970 World Cup, Pele struck an agreement with Puma that would earn him $25,000 for the tournament, plus $100,000 for the following four years and a cut of branded boot sales.
The deal, which broke a pact between Puma and fierce rivals Adidas not to sign Pele because of the cost of a bidding war, was made on the condition that he tie his shoelaces before the kickoff of Brazil’s quarter-final match with Peru.
He duly did, the cameras caught the moment, and he earned himself a cool $2.85 million in today’s money, without calculating what he raked in from boot sales. Read more