Pelé is regarded as one of, if not the best, soccer players in the world. After his death, many football fans might wonder about his life off the field, including who is Pelé’s wife. Turns out, his personal life was nothing but complicated and he was married three times in total before his death at age 82.
Born as Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Pelé was propelled into stardom while playing for the Brazilian national team and Santos. He ended up winning a record three FIFA World Cups in 1958, 1962 and 1970. His popularity skyrocketed and scored a record of 643 goals for his club before Lionel Messi surpassed it in 2020. A legend in the game and dubbed “O Rio or “The King,” he even helped stop a ceasefire in the Nigerian Civil War so that both sides could see him play.
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His daughter confirmed the Brazillian striker’s passing in an Instagram post, “All that we are is thanks to you,” she wrote. “We love you forever. Rest in peace.” In 2021, Pelé was going under treatment for colon cancer and assured his fans not to worry about his health. “Dear friends, it’s been a while since we talked about this. I want to let you know that I’m fine,” he wrote on Instagram in November 2021. I feel better every day. I don’t think even the mask for my protection can hide my happiness. Thank you very much to all of you who send me good energy daily.”
Throughout his career, he also was the subject of controversy with his relationships after having several affairs while he was married. He married three times, first tying the knot with Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi in the late 1960s. Here’s a list of Pelé’s wives and his relationships with them.
Who were Pelé’s wives?
Marcia Aoki (2016 – 2022)
Pelé’s third wife was Japanese-Brazilian entrepreneur Marcia Aoki. Not much is known about their relationship but it’s reported that she works in medical supplies distribution. The two met in the 1980s at a party in New York City but reunited in 2008 and started a relationship in 2010. Aoki is 32 years younger than the Brazilian soccer star. Pelé and Aoki married in 2016 in a small ceremony. The couple had no children and were together until his death.
Assíria Lemos Seixas (1992 – 2008)
Pelé married his second wife gospel singer and psychologist Assíria Lemos Seixas in 1992. The couple had two children together, twins, Joshua and Celeste, born in 1996. Not much is known about this relationship either, but the couple finalized their divorce in 2008.
Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi (1966 – 1982)
Pelé’s first wife was Rosemeri do Reis Cholbi, who he married in 1966. They had three kids together: Kelly Cristina (born January 13, 1967), Jennifer (born 1978) and their son Edson (“Edinho”, born August 27, 1970).
In his Netflix documentary Pelé, the soccer player opened up about his infidelities. “My first wife, my first girlfriend knew all about it. I never lied to anyone.” He claimed that he was “too young” for his marriage. Pelé had numerous affairs, enough to the point where he didn’t know how many children he fathered. “In all honesty, I’ve had so many relationships, and some were born also about the children, but I only found out about it later.”
On his affairs, he thought that being his wife was difficult and explained that commercial deals allowed him to travel and work off the field for projects in different countries. He offered a view of his first marriage in the documentary, and that every single one of his partners knew about his affairs. “We had that friendship,” Pelé said. “That passion you feel when you’re madly in love – we didn’t have any of that.”
He welcomed his second daughter Flávia, with journalist Lenita Kurtz, in 1968 while he was still married to Rosemeri. Before they married, Pelé had an affair with his housemaid, Anisia Machado, in 1963. Anisia gave birth to Sandra Regina Machado. For many years, Sandra took her father to court to prove paternity tests, but Pelé denied that he was the father and refused to submit to a DNA test. Sandra went on to write a book The Daughter the King Didn’t Want, and died in 2006 from cancer. Pelé didn’t go to her funeral.
Though he had many flaws, he reflected his stance in society in an interview with British GQ. “Most of the children today watch [Lionel] Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, Neymar, but they also know the name of Pelé,” he said. “Maybe from their fathers, or from their fathers’ fathers! But it is a big responsibility for me because I can never make a mistake in my life. I always have to be an example to these children, but I thank God for this honor.”
He continued to reflect on his career highlight: “I don’t have one favorite moment… there are too many. But there are a few memories that are special for me,” he said at the time. “For example, 1958 was my very first World Cup and I was 17 years old. It was the first time I had traveled by plane, and in Sweden everything was new and different. It was like a dream, and then all my dreams came true because my Brazil won the World Cup. I was so young and it felt like I had achieved everything. But, of course, there was much more to come.”
For more about Pelé, read his 2015 memoir, Why Soccer Matters: A Look at More Than Sixty Years of International Soccer. The book takes readers through Pelé’s 20-year international football career, from his three World Cup championship wins to his record-breaking 1,283 goals. The autobiography also dives into Pelé’s decision to retire from football in 1977, his work as international football’s global ambassador and how he’s inspired future generations of professional football players like Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. “I know in my heart that soccer was good to me, and great to the world….I saw, time and again, how the sport improved countless millions of lives, both on and off the field. For me, at least, that’s why soccer matters,” Pelé writes in Why Soccer Matters.
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