Pelé brought renown to Santos, Brazilian port city and team

Jan 1, 2023, 4:00 PM
Only after Pele, a 15-year-old sensation started scoring goals for the city's team did Santos, a ci...
Brazilian footballer Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) in action. (Lemyr Marvins/ Getty Images)
(Lemyr Marvins/ Getty Images)

SANTOS, Brazil (AP) — Pelé. Santos, Brazil.

Over decades, adoring fans around the world mailed thousands of letters, postcards and packages to the sports legend without his address or full name.

Almost without fail, they reached the office of Edson Arantes do Nascimento in the port city he made famous.

Santos was founded by the Portuguese in January 1546. It hosts Latin America’s biggest port, which feeds the Sao Paulo area and exports the country’s agricultural commodities to the planet.

Only after a 15-year-old sensation started scoring goals for the city’s team did Santos, a city of about 430,000 residents today, become a household name. The Brazilian great, who died Thursday at 82 after fighting cancer, played there from 1956 to 1974.

“There’s a Santos before Pelé and another after him,” said Serginho Chulapa, Brazil’s striker in the 1982 World Cup and a local hero with more than 100 goals for the club. “He put both the city and club on the map. Before him, people came to work at the port and go to the beach.”

Chulapa had four spells at Santos FC as a player, all during the 1980s. Since retirement, he has worked at the club in different capacities, some of them alongside Pelé.

“Santos is not in a metropolis like Sao Paulo, we have to work with less money. And Pelé made this club gigantic since he started playing,” Chulapa said. “Santos had its peak with him.”
Pelé gave Santos two Copa Libertadores titles and two Intercontinental Cup titles against Benfica and AC Milan, as it beat some of the best rivals around the world. The Brazilian great won 26 titles at the club.

Some of Brazil’s top politicians, including President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, have lived in the coastal city. But one of Santos’s main touristic attractions is the Pelé Museum. It lies in the renovated area of the Casaroes do Valongo, close to the city port. It opened in 2014 and hosts tens of thousands of tourists. Many are like Gisela Claudia, 65, who arrived on a cruise ship to spend New Year’s Eve in the city.

“It is my first time in Santos. And I only came in this cruise because my husband wanted to see the city of Pelé,” Claudia said.

“He is lost somewhere in the museum,” she said. “There are other beaches on this trip that are more beautiful than this. But none of them have this history of the greatest player.”

The museum features some of Pelé’s remaining memorabilia: boots, trophies, medals, shirts.

Santos has become a popular destination for New Year’s Eve, especially among residents of Sao Paulo, who grew fond of its clubs, beaches and a few private islands where parties take place. But the local club’s Vila Belmiro stadium, where Pelé’s funeral will take place on Monday, remains one of the city’s main tourist attractions.

The last time Santos consistently filled its arena’s 16,000 seats was between 2009 and 2013, when striker Neymar played there.

Santos FC is also home to other renowned players, most of them coming from its academy long after Pelé had retired. The list includes Rodrygo, Elano, Zé Roberto, Giovanni, Robinho, Diego and Gabriel Barbosa.

Pelé’s death is expected to change many names around Santos. The first is expected to be the port, which will be renamed King Pelé Port, the incoming federal administration has decided.
Architect Maria Tereza Myre Dores, one of Pelé’s closest friends and his neighbor in the final years of his life in the neighboring city of Guaruja, says Santos the club and Santos the city will never be the same.

“He was Santos. He loved the city, loved the club. And he made both better and bigger,” Myre Dores said.

“I still remember the afternoons he spent in his office signing letters and shirts for people everywhere. One by one and sending them back, even those that only came with those three words; Pelé, Santos, Brazil,” the architect said. “Without him, Santos is less Santos.”
AP soccer: and

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


utah jazz educator award winners...
Andrew Gordon

Spanish Fork teacher is year’s first Jazz “Most Valuable Educator”

The Jazz "Most Valuable Educator" honor comes with a custom Jazz jersey and $1,000 grant for the winning teacher's classroom.
5 days ago
A fundraising effort has begun to raise $100 million to help redevelop the Ballpark neighborhood of...
Randall Jepson

Council chair weighs in on the future of Smith’s Ballpark

Ballpark Community Council Chair Amy Hawkins sees future green space and a place for people to relax at the site of Smith's Ballpark.
5 days ago
girls play tackle football...
Randall Jeppesen

Girls’ tackle football lawsuit reinstated

Several girls filed a lawsuit in 2017 to get three Utah school districts to create tackle football teams for girls.
13 days ago
A fundraising effort has begun to raise $100 million to help redevelop the Ballpark neighborhood of...
Simone Seikaly

Salt Lake Bees baseball relocating to new field in Daybreak in 2025

The new Bees baseball stadium will be privately financed by owner, The Larry H. Miller Company, and is expected to be completed by the 2025 season.
13 days ago
A Snow College student-athlete died Monday morning in a two-car accident on SR-132. Photo credit: U...
Samantha Herrera

Snow College softball player dies in car accident

Snow College student and athlete Paige Rydalch reportedly died in a car crash Monday morning. She was an infielders on the school's softball team.
14 days ago
Hamlin is breathing on his own and speaking to family, physicians and teammates -- positive updates...
Elizabeth Wolfe, Jacob Lev and Adrienne Broaddus, CNN

‘Keep praying for me’: Damar Hamlin, breathing on his own, posts on Instagram for the first time since collapse

Hamlin is breathing on his own and speaking to family, physicians and teammates. Positive updates Bills players say.
23 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Pelé brought renown to Santos, Brazilian port city and team