75-year-old Brazilian legend Pele, is auctioning off his entire collection of awards and memorabilia accumulated over six decades in the game of football.
In an event that could become the biggest sports auction ever and fetch up to £5m in bids, the Brazilian three-time World Cup winner and Fifa Player of the Century is selling everything from his replica of the Jules Rimet Trophy to his 1977 North American Soccer League championship ring.
The auction, handled by Beverly Hills-based Julien’s Auctions, will take place in London in June, over three days and is expected to attract bids from around the world.
Pele is selling more than 2,000 items in the auction, with articles ranging from mementos from his professional debut for Santos FC at age 15 in 1956, to being named as the club’s lifetime global ambassador in 2014.
They include everything from elaborate crowns and ceremonial daggers, model ships and jet fighters, to more prosaic clocks, dishes, and freedom-of-the-city keys from various municipalities.
The most expensive of the lot, with an estimate of £280,000 to £410,000, is the copy of the Jules Rimet Trophy, the original World Cup.
Pelé’s three World Cup winners’ medals are expected to net up to £140,000 each, while the ball with which he scored his 1,000th goal is predicted to gain £40,000.
His Brazilian number 10 shirt which he wore at a match to mark his 50th birthday in Milan, in 1990 – is estimated to fetch between £1,400 and £2,800 – with other items such as old passports and licences also up for sale.
Executive director at Julien’s Auctions, Martin Nolan, said it would be a “historic” sale, probably the “biggest sports auction ever’.
Nolan says Pele wants to see his legacy and these items all over the world in museums and in the hands of people who are going to cherish them, love them and appreciate them for many, many years to come.
Pelé remains the game’s greatest hero, despite hanging up his boots almost 40 years ago. Pele holds the record as the youngest player ever to play in, and score in, a World Cup final. He also holds the Guinness World Record for goals scored in a career with 1,283.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Tres Coracoes in October 1940, Pelé grew up in poverty. He was originally apprenticed to be a shoemaker but developed a talent for football by kicking a rolled-up sock stuffed with rags around the streets.
At 17, he effectively won the 1958 World Cup for Brazil with a hat-trick in the semi-final against France and two goals in the final against the host nation, Sweden. He was also in the squad that triumphed in 1962 and scored again in the 1970 finals.
With club side Santos he twice won the Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup. Later in his career he went on to become the face of “soccer” in the US, as the NASL looked for a sporting breakthrough in the mid-1970s.