Goooooaaal! Top 10 Pelé Cards

Goooooaaal! Top 10 Pelé Cards

The greatest soccer player in history was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, but the world knows him as Pelé. Despite not appearing on the pitch in nearly 40 years, Pelé enjoys a near-mythical reputation as the best player in the most popular global sport. A recent deal with Topps has brought his cards and autographs to the forefront of the hobby and Pelé cards are trending upwards.

The Brazilian-born Pelé spent nearly his entire career making headlines for the Brazilian National Team and the Brazilian professional team, Santos FC. Similar to more modern elite soccer talents, like David Beckham and Thierry Henry, Pelé came to the United States at the end of his career. He joined the now-defunct New York Cosmos in 1975, and was responsible for a brief stateside surge of interest in soccer.

Outside of the past few years, there are not a ton of mainstream cards available for Pelé. The following list details ten of the best options for Pelé card collectors.

Top 10 Pelé Cards

1958 Alifabolaget Pelé #635

While it is hard to definitively name one Pelé card as his true rookie card, the 1958 Alifabolaget is the among the top options. Several regional cards with low print runs lay claim to this title, so it really just boils down to personal preference, budget and card availability. With a full-color image and appealing look, the Italian-made Alifabolaget is a great card, if you can find one. In September of 2013, a PSA 8.5 sold for $1,588.88.

1958 Swedish Rekord Journal Pelé #NNO

This early Pelé card remains popular despite oddball origins. The dual "card" is actually cut from a Swedish magazine and normally includes Manoel Francisco Santos, although some are cut further to present the Pelé card solo. Due to its thin magazine stock and the fact that it is literally cut from a magazine, this is generally considered the least preferred of the options vying for rookie card status. One interesting note is that this card appears to feature Pelé's full name. However, upon closer examination, the card is attributed to "Edvaldo Alves Santarosa." Edvaldo Alves de Santa Rosa is actually the official name for the original Dida, a former Brazilian soccer star, who passed away in 2002.

1958-59 Tupinamba Ltda. Quigol Pelé #109

Another early card for the soccer superstar, the Quigol Pelé was made in Brazil, which does boost its appeal to many collectors. Several other cards printed in Brazil have emerged from around the same time, so again, it is hard to designate one as the true rookie.  This undersized card is very rare and an ungraded copy sold for $1,200 in August of 2013.

1958-59 Heinerle Pelé #NNO

Despite some debate about when this card was actually printed and released, the Heinerle card remains a popular options among Pelé cards. This German-made card was either released in late-1958 or early-1959. The deep-colored image shows a young Pelé going up for a header. The card back showcases a soccer figure design in the background.

1964 Panini Calciatori Coppe Pelé #NNO

The first option from a manufacturer that is familiar to most collectors, Panini released this Pelé card in 1964. With the full colors of Brazil on display, this is one of the more affordable early cards for Pelé. Panini released several other Pelé cards in the 1960s and 1970s.

2008/2009 Sportkings Series B/C Autographs Pelé #P-1 to #P-6

It was not until 2008 that collectors were treated to certified pack-pulled Pelé autographs. The former soccer great appeared in Sportkings Series B and C. Although the overall design is okay, the nondescript feel and small image of Pelé leaves much to be desired. The large on-card signature is a nice positive. There are six different base silver autographed versions. The first three, from Series B, are numbered to 25 and the last three, from Series C, are numbered to 20. There are also gold parallels of each card, which are all numbered to 10.

2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Framed Autographs Pelé #AGA-P

Found in 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Baseball, many have questioned why a soccer star is being pushed in baseball products. Superstar athletes tend to transcend their individual sports, and a strong design, on-card signature, and Topps brand power, make for a great Pelé collectible. Prices fall in a large range, but they have generally been selling for $275 to $400.

2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Framed Mini Relics Pelé #NBR-P

Also from 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Baseball, the distinct A&G design is paired with a small jersey piece from Pelé. This is the best and most affordable current mainstream option for collectors to obtain a piece of a jersey, however small, that was worn by the greatest soccer player in the world.

2013 Topps Tier One Autograph Pelé #TOA-P

Another terrific autographed option, 2013 Topps Tier One brings a refined design and layout to Pelé collectors. With a print run of only 50, sale prices are consistently $200+.

2013 Topps Tier One Autographs Pele

2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Signatures Pelé #S-PEL

Showcasing the former great in his familiar Brazilian jersey, this 2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Pelé card is appealing for many reasons and has added significance since Brazil was the home country for the 2014 Word Cup.

2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Autographs Pele

Honorable Mention

2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Dual Autographs Pelé, Cristiano Ronaldo #CS-PC #/10

Yes, it is a sticker autograph, which keeps it from being one of the greatest soccer cards of all-time, but man, what a pairing. Combining the signature of the greatest of all-time with the signature of the one of the top players in modern soccer, this rare card is very special. A Prizm parallel, also numbered to 10, doubles the print run to 20 total copies.

2014 Panini Prizm World Cup Dual Autographs Pelé, Cristiano Ronaldo #CS-PC

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Trey Treutel

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Trey Treutel is an Ole Miss grad and a lifelong sports fanatic. He is a huge fan of the NBA and NFL, as well as soccer, college basketball and college football. As a kid, he collected football and basketball cards. In more recent years, he started collecting basketball cards again on a whim and has since expanded to other sports and entertainment options. Find Trey on Twitter at @datreute or Google+.

User Comments

  1. Pele in a Baseball set, what next, a Ice Hockey set?
    There are great Pele cards out there, most of these are not, this is basically an advertisement for Topps.

  2. While it may seem like a weird fit, these Pele cards in baseball sets are proving to be extremely popular. They’re also expanding the sport’s profile among collectors who might not be into it as much as these “baseball cards” are aimed primarily at North American collectors. The A&G relic may not be among the most valuable Pele cards out there, but it is his first memorabilia card that is readily available. All previous ones have been extremely rare (limited to 25 copies or less). You’re right, there are plenty of Pele cards out there and different lists will probably all look a little or a lot different. The author has a very good understanding of the sport and the popularity and importance of different cards.

  3. A Topps relic card of Pele just released, on your list, has plummeted to $9 – why?

    What year/season/game did this Pele jersey patch come from ? it does not say.
    How many of these cards made, 1,000s ? It does not say.

    Football (soccer) patch cards, of an iconic footballer like Pele, by a publisher of serious soccer cards (Panini, Upper Deck, Futera) are generally highly valued and sought after:

  4. Paul You’re showing a Messi card. Kind of hard to compare. As mentioned in my previous comment, there are rarer Pele memorabilia cards that are also more valuable, however they’re extremely rare (less that 25 copies) so most collectors won’t even get a chance to get one. As a result, the A&G Pele Relic is important simply because it the only one that’s readily available, regardless of value.

  5. Wow, $9 for Pele patch card. It took Topps a few weeks in the market to relegate the great Pele towards the worth of a common patch card.

    Ryan, perhaps you could get answers to the questions that the other guy asked like what game or at least what year is this Pele game worn patch jersey from and how many cards made ?

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