The Full Story Behind Jimmy Magee's Claim He Gave Pele His Name On TV3 Tonight?

The Full Story Behind Jimmy Magee's Claim He Gave Pele His Name On TV3 Tonight?

Viewers of TV3's Seven O'Clock Show this evening may have noticed Jimmy Magee briefly mention that he bestowed the nickname 'Pele' upon Edison Arantes do Nascimento, only to subsequently avoid going into any detail on an event that, if true, is surely one of the greatest impacts an Irishman has ever made on the world.

We decided to find out more about the issue, and, sadly, it appears to be a mistruth.

The Pog Mo Goal blog highlighted this yarn back in 2013.

Magee was on RTE radio in 2013, and recalled a meeting with the Brazilian striker back in 1974, ahead of the World Cup meeting with West Germany.

During the encounter, Pele mentioned that he did not know the origin of his name.

Magee helpfully brought up a possible scenario in which the nickname could have been invented.


I had an idea. I gave him a story that an Irish-speaking missionary priest was in Brazil in Pelé’s poor part where he was born and raised.

Watching the young Edson play on the street with a ball of paper, the priest remarked on the “buachaill ag imirt peile (boy playing football),”  and on hearing the phrase, the local women began calling the boy “Pelé.”

Magee then did admit it was a "cock and bull story", although Pele - perhaps politely - accepted that such an incident was plausible.

The more generally accepted story behind 'young Edson's' nickname is that his misprouncement of his favourite player, Vasco de Gama's Bilé as 'Pilé' evolved to become Pele.

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Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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