Pele punched schoolmate for coining nickname 'I did not want'

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The Independent Football

Pele was so angry with a school classmate who dreamed up his nickname that he punched him. The former Brazil great was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Pele told a German newspaper he hated his nickname so much he flipped, earning a two-day school suspension.

"I didn't want that name," Pele said. "In Portuguese, Pele sounds like baby talk. Edson, in contrast, sounds like Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. But a school-mate wanted to make me angry. First I glared at him, then I hit him." Pele, who described himself as a good student who would not hurt a fly, said he now feels grateful for the nickname.

"The good thing is that people can easily say Pele all over the world. Over the years, I've learnt to live with two persons in my heart. One is Edson, who has fun with his friends and family; the other is the football player Pele."

Pele, 65, is regarded as the game's greatest player. He won the World Cup with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

Pele also warned the defending champions Brazil about being the clear favourite to win this year's World Cup.

"The favourites have often failed to live up to this. There appears to be a curse."