Before there was Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, there was Pelé.
The Brazilian maestro is widely seen as the best player ever, and the attention paid to his most important cards shows no signs of letting up.
This culminated in the $1.3M sale of his RC in February 2022, which is the first time a soccer card has breached the $1M barrier.
It’s massive news, so here’s everything you need to know about one of the best vintage options in the hobby.
The Card: 1958 Alifabolaget #635 Pele RC (eBay)
A truly exceptional Swedish-issue release, the 1958 Alifabologet #635 Pele rookie card has to be seen as the holy grail for soccer collectors.
The star is shown on the field in his Brazil kit at the 1958 World Cup in Stockholm, Sweden.
Of course, Brazil won the tournament, led by a 17-year-old Pele who simultaneously became the youngest player to participate in, score, and win a World Cup final.
The Sale: 1958 Alifabolaget #635 Pele RC
The Pele rookie card was sold via Goldin auctions in November 2020 for $288,000. Now, it’s the most expensive soccer card of all time and soccer’s first million dollar card.
It was purchased by fractional ownership company Rally Rd. who completed the sale for $1.33 million.
There aren’t many graded copies of the 1958 Alifabologet #635 Pele RC according to the PSA population report.
As you can see, there’s only a handful of cards that have received a nine grade from the company.
It smashed the previous record of $900,000 for a different PSA 9 Pele card, also sold via Goldin.
The Player: Pele
Born in 1940, Edson Arantes do Nascimento is better known as Pelé to a legion of fans around the world. It’s been almost 45 years since his final appearance, but interest in his cards has seen no sign of letting up.
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and labelled “the greatest” by FIFA, he was among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century.
For example, in 1999 he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee. Pele was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.
His 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, which included friendlies, is recognised as a Guinness World Record.
Pelé won a trio of World Cup tournaments with Brazil, and is the subject of numerous films and documentaries looking at his legacy.
Shop for Graded Pelé cards on eBay
Another Win for the Soccer Card Market
The sale shows that soccer cards are becoming just as important to collectors as sports like baseball and basketball. It indicates that there are numerous canny investments to be made.
After all, the Pele card jumped up in value by almost 400% in just two years. It’s going to be hard to see those returns elsewhere.
It should be enough to make more card collectors pay attention, and it bodes well for the future.