Pelé, Brazil Soccer Legend Dies At Age 82
Pelé, Brazilian soccer star and only player to win the World Cup three times, dies at age 82 after battling with Cancer.
His captivating skill and athleticism ensured he was universally regarded as one of football’s greatest players.
Pelé, who had a colon tumour removed in 2021, was readmitted to Albert Einstein hospital in São Paulo in November amid deteriorating health. After reports he was receiving end-of-life care, Pelé said he felt “strong, with a lot of hope” in a social media post on 3 December.
A further statement from the hospital on 21 December reported that Pelé “requires further care related to renal and cardiac dysfunctions” after the “progression” of his colon cancer.
Social media posts from his daughter Kely Nascimento showed that family members had gathered at the hospital to spend Christmas with him.
Brazil’s joint all-time record scorer won three World Cups as a player, in 1958, 1962 and 1970, over a 14-year international career that included 77 goals in 92 appearances for his country.
It was the 1970 triumph for which he will be best celebrated, the linchpin of a beguiling team that included Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, Gérson, Tostão and Rivelino that swept through Mexico, his canary yellow No 10 shirt becoming an icon of the sport.
World Soccer described Brazil’s 1970 winners as “more than a team”, adding: “The Brazilian side that won the 1970 World Cup in such style have become a myth, a team to be held up as the ultimate exponents of the beautiful game.” Pelé was their figurehead and inspiration.
Nicknamed “the Black Pearl” and “the King”, Pelé was one of only three players to have scored in four World Cups. In 1,363 games, he scored 1,281 goals, at the time of his retirement in 1977 more than twice as many as his nearest challenger.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on 23 October 1940, Pelé began his professional career at 15 and made his international debut a year later. In 1999, he was voted player of the century in a poll of Ballon d’Or winners and Time magazine named him as one of 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
In his prime, Pelé’s celebrity was such that he gained audiences with popes and heads of state, his allure so great that when the ill-fated New York Cosmos sought a marquee name to launch a soccer assault on America, Pelé was one of the very few footballers to be recognised by the wider American public in the 1970s.