Pele, the Brazilian football icon who brought home the World Cup trophy three times, became an international superstar and at the time the world’s highest-paid team athlete, has died. He is 82 years old.
His daughter Kelly Nascimento announced his death on Thursday Instagram.
Pele’s Health was poor He is old. Doctors at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo said Late December He is receiving “higher care” related to “kidney and heart failure” stemming from the cancer he has been battling for more than a year. He also had a respiratory infection and will stay in hospital over the Christmas holidays, his family said.
“Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pele, who passed away peacefully today,” A Report read on his organization’s website. “On his journey, Edson mesmerized the world with his genius at the game, stopped a war, did social work around the world, and spread the love he so deeply believed was the solution to all our problems. His message becomes a legacy today. For future generations.”
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on October 23, 1940, he was almost exclusively known as Pele – a nickname he acquired after he mispronounced another footballer’s name.
Pele joined Santos Football Club in Brazil in 1956 as an inside forward at the age of 15. The club won the São Paulo League championship and, in 1962 and 1963, won both the Libertadores Cup and the Intercontinental Club Cup.
Operating as a second striker, the forward made his international debut a year after joining Santos in 1957 and played in the World Cup the following year aged 17 – the youngest player ever. He scored a hat-trick in the semi-final against France and scored two goals in the championship game against hosts Sweden in 1958.
After bursting onto the world stage and dazzling with his ability to land difficult shots into the net, Brazil Peele declared it a “national treasure”. A move to prevent him from being snapped up by rich European teams. Instead, Santos went on an international tour to give fans a chance to see the star.
At the next World Cup in 1962, Pele tore a muscle and had to sit out after the second match, but the Brazilian national team prevailed and won back-to-back titles. In 1966, Brazil lost in the first round at the next World Cup after injuries to Pele and others.
He considered retiring from the international game, but in 1970 he managed to win again. Pele has scored 12 goals in 14 games in his World Cup career and is the only footballer to win the trophy three times.
Pele retired from Santos in 1974 after scoring 643 goals in 659 games.
He retired a year later to join his second team, the New York Cosmos. At age 34, he signed a three-year, $7 million contract to play for Team USA, the New York Times reported at the time. The highest paid team player In this world. He ended up playing for the Cosmos for two years, helping them win the North American Soccer League Cup, and was widely credited with popularizing the game in America.
His The last game There was an exhibition match between Santos and Cosmos. He played the first half with the Cosmos and the second half with his beloved Santos. When time expired, his teammates carried an emotional Pele on their shoulders and marched him around the field.
“Simply put, Pele made football cool,” Cosmos goalkeeper Shep Messing said. ESPN That last game after 40 years. “Mick Jagger, Elton John, Robert Redford in sports. Muhammad Ali, he was on the field in that final game, and at that time, they were two of the most recognizable people on the planet.”
Pele scored more than 1,000 goals in his career, a Guinness World Record.
He used his platform after soccer to support charities and improve the lives of Brazil’s poor. He became a UNESCO Global Ambassador in 1994 and served as Minister of Sports in Brazil. He published several autobiographies that became best sellers and starred in documentaries about his life.
He and Argentine star Diego Maradona, who is younger than Pele and has played since his retirement, are often debated as the greatest players of all time – jointly named “Player of the Century” by FIFA in 2000. Despite the rivalry, the two struck up a friendship after years of trading jobs before Maradona’s death in 2020.
“I want to thank Pele. We know who he is and who he will always be. We need icons like him,” Maradona said at a friendly exhibition match in 2016.
FIFA eventually declared Pele the “Greatest of All Time” in 2012 and the International Olympic Committee named him “Athlete of the Century” in 1999.
When his death was announced on Thursday, tributes poured in from around the world of football.
Santos He tweeted that A reference to his nickname “O Rei” or “The King”.
Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo is of “The King” fame On social media As well as.
“A ‘goodbye’ to the eternal King Pele will not be enough to express the pain that the entire football world is currently embracing,” Ronaldo said. “An inspiration to millions, a reference yesterday, today and forever. The love you always showed me was reciprocated from a distance and in every moment we shared. He will never be forgotten and his memories will live forever in each and every one of us. We are football lovers.”
France forward Kylian MbappeHe said Pele’s “legacy will never be forgotten”, having scored a hat-trick in the most recent World Cup final in Qatar earlier this month.
and former England footballer Jeff Hurst “I have many memories of Pele, undoubtedly the best footballer I have ever played with. … For me Pele is the greatest of all time and I am proud to have been on the pitch with him. RIP Pele.”