SAO PAULO: Brazilian football icon Pele, considered the greatest player of all time and a three-time World Cup winner, died today at the age of 82.
“All we can say to you is thank you. We love you endlessly. Rest in peace,” Pele’s daughter Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram.
The Albert Einstein Hospital that treated Pele in a statement said his death after a long battle with cancer was caused by ‘multiple organ failure.’
Named athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1999, Pele is the only footballer in history to have won three World Cups in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Nicknamed “O Rei” (The King), he scored over 1,000 goals in his most illustrious career before retiring in 1977.
Pele’s health deteriorated further as he battled kidney problems as well as colon cancer, and underwent his final operation in September 2021, followed by chemotherapy.
Various reactions were given by the world football community immediately after the news of the Brazilian legend’s death was announced.
Brazilian star striker Neymar said Pele had ‘turned football into art.’
French star Kylian Mbappe said the legend’s legacy ‘will never be forgotten’, adding: “RIP RAJA.”
Born on October 23, 1940, in the southeastern town of Tres Coracoes, Pele or his real name, Edson Arantes do Nascimento grew up selling peanuts on the street to support his poor family.
Pele’s parents named him after the American inventor of the lamp, Thomas Edison.
Pele has been showing off his charm since the age of 15, when he started playing professionally with Santos.
He led the club to numerous titles, including back-to-back Intercontinental Cups over Benfica in 1962 and AC Milan in 1963.
Known as a soccer genius, he epitomized the style of play called ‘samba soccer’ in Brazil, where he was declared a ‘national treasure.’
Pele scored an all-time record 1,281 goals in 1,363 games for Santos (1956-74), the Brazilian national team and the New York Cosmos (1975-77).
But beyond his record, he will be remembered for revolutionizing the sport, the number 10 always on his back. – AFP
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