Pele was once paid a whopping $120,000 just to his laces ahead of a World Cup game, it has been revealed.
Tributes have been pouring in for the Brazilian icon after he passed away at the age of 82 following a long battle with colon cancer.
Pele is the only player to have won three World Cups and was voted FIFA's player of the 20th century. He completely transcended the sport and will go down as one of the greatest to ever play the beautiful game.
He was the star of his era and when it comes to endorsement deals, he was a man in demand.
Both Adidas and Puma were desperate to tie Pele down but it was the latter brand who he was associated with during his glittering career.
In 1924 brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler set up a shoe company from their mother's laundry room and proved to be a huge success.
But they fell out in the 1940s and went their separate ways, with Adolf creating Adidas and Rudolf heading up Puma. They quickly became rivals and had their eyes on Pele when his popularity was through the roof.
At first he was too expensive to sign up and a 'Pele pact' was created whereby both swore to not go after the world's most famous athlete.
However, Puma went and broke that pact in 1970 at the World Cup in Mexico. They went and paid Pele a huge fee for him to wear their boots for the quarter-final against Peru.
8) As Pele approached midfield to tie his shoes, cameras zoomed in, and millions of people realized all at once:— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) December 30, 2022
Pelé was a Puma athlete.
The funniest part?
To ensure they got a close-up, Puma even paid the cameraman. pic.twitter.com/W2Z5oOVdO8
In a genius marketing move, they requested that he asked the referee for some time to tie his laces in the semi-circle just prior to kick-off. Puma forked out for a cameraman to zoom in to get the money shot and they went on record record annual sales that year.
Brazil beat Peru 4-2 and went all the way, with Pele scoring in a 4-1 win over Italy in the final to seal a historic third World Cup.
Adidas were reportedly fuming and so a business war ensued, though these days both are billion pound companies.
Pele's global appeal cannot be overlooked and there's no denying the impact he had on modern football.