Pele, the Brazil footballing legend and three-time World Cup winner, has died at the age of 82.
Widely considered to be football’s first global superstar, Pele had been treated for colon cancer, following surgery to remove a tumour in September 2021, and had required regular medical treatment. After being admitted back into hospital at the end of November to re-evaluate his cancer treatment, he was diagnosed with a respiratory infection before subsequently being moved to palliative care when his body became unresponsive to chemotherapy.
Brazil superstar Pele won three World Cups after bursting onto the global stage as a 17-year-old and is widely considered to be one of the finest footballers to have ever lived.
Doctors and nurses at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo duly made him as comfortable as possible, while his wife, Marcia Aoki, remained by his bedside. He passed away on Thursday. His daughter, Kely Nascimento, confirmed the news on Instagram, writing: “Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
A post was also put out on Pele’s Instagram page that read: “Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today. On his journey, Edson enchanted the world with his genius in sport, stopped a war, carried out social works all over the world and spread what he most believed to be the cure for all our problems: love. His message today becomes a legacy for future generations. Love, love and love, forever.”.
Neymar, currently the leading light in Brazil, said on social media: “Before Pelé, 10 was just a number. I’ve read this phrase somewhere, at some point in my life. But this sentence, beautiful, is incomplete. I would say before Pelé football was just a sport. Pelé has changed it all. He turned football into art, into entertainment He gave voice to the poor, to the blacks and especially: He gave visibility to Brazil. Soccer and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King! He’s gone but his magic remains. Pelé is FOREVER!!”
Gary Lineker has tweeted: “Pele has died. The most divine of footballers and joyous of men. He played a game only a few chosen ones have come close to. 3 times he lifted the most coveted gold trophy in that beautiful yellow shirt. He may have left us but he’ll always have footballing immortality. RIP Pele”.
He would win the World Cup on two more occasions, in 1962 and 1970, when the Selecao produced arguably the greatest final performance in the competition’s history, defeating Italy 4-1 at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico. Pele won the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player.
Santos, the club where Pele spent almost two decades, scoring over 600 goals, also posted an image of a crown with the word: “Eterno.” Kylian Mbappe has also paid tribute by saying: “The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten. RIP KING”