Sports

Brazilian football legend Pele dies at the age of 82


Family members visit the legendary Pele on December 24 at the Sao Paulo hospital, where he is suffering from a growing cancer

In this photo taken on December 8, 2005, Brazilian football legend Pele kisses a ball, during a presentation in Leipzig on the eve of the 2006 FIFA World Cup final draw. Photo by Franck FIFE / AFP)

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Brazilian soccer icon Pele, considered by many to be the greatest player of all time and a three-time World Cup winner who produced a “beautiful game,” died on Tuesday. Year at the age of 82.

“All we have is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace,” daughter Kelly Nascimento wrote on Instagram.

The Albert Einstein Hospital that treated Pele said in a statement that his death after a long battle with cancer was due to “multiple organ failure”.

Named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee 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 more than 1,000 goals in one of the most legendary careers in sports, before retiring in 1977.

His health deteriorated, battling kidney problems and colon cancer — having to undergo surgery in September 2021, followed by chemotherapy.

The reaction started immediately, with current Brazil star Neymar saying Pele had “turned football into an art.”

French star Kylian Mbappe said the legend’s legacy will “never be forgotten”, adding: “RIP KING.”

‘Samba football’

Born on October 23, 1940, in the southeastern city of Tres Coracoes, Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Pele’s real name – grew up selling peanuts on the street to help support his impoverished family. .

His parents named him for American inventor Thomas Edison.

But he was soon given the nickname Pele, for mispronouncing the word Bile, the name of a goalkeeper at Vasco de Sao Lourenco, where his father was a footballer.

Pele shined since the age of 15, when he started playing professionally with Santos. He led the club to numerous titles, including successive Intercontinental Cups, against Benfica in 1962 and AC Milan in 1963.

Known for his genius with the ball, he is the epitome of the sublime style of play known as “sabba football” in Brazil, where he has been declared a “national treasure”.

He 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 records, he will be remembered for revolutionizing the sport with the number 10 always on his back.

As the first global soccer star, he played a key role in transforming the game into a sporting and commercial powerhouse, harnessing his extraordinary athletic ability despite his relative size. small – 1.70 meters (just under 5 foot-7).

He also plays football with all his heart, as can be seen in the iconic black and white footage of the 17-year-old phenom bursting into tears after helping Brazil win its first World Cup in 1958.

Eight years ago, having watched his father cry as Brazil lost to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup final at home, he promised to one day bring the trophy home.

Sports royal

Pele reached the pinnacle of greatness at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, the first tournament in color, where he featured in what many consider to be the greatest team of all time, with talents such as Rivellino, Tostao and Jairzinho.

He is often greeted like a king when going abroad with Santos or the national team. Legend has it that in 1969, his arrival in Nigeria was the occasion for a 48-hour armistice in the bloody Biafra war.

Pele turned down offers to play in Europe, but signed with the New York Cosmos on a brief, lucrative deal at the end of his career, bringing his star power to the country. “football”.

His reign extended beyond the pitch, with gigs as a movie star, singer and later sports minister (1995-1998) – one of the first black cabinet members. first in Brazil.

But he has at times faced criticism in Brazil for staying silent on social issues and racism, as well as for what some see as his cocky, cocky personality. that.

Unlike Argentine rebel Diego Maradona, his rival for the greatest title of all time, Pele is considered close to those in power – including Brazil’s 1964-1985 military regime. .

Final match

Pele’s public appearances are increasingly rare and he often uses a walker or wheelchair.

He has been hospitalized several times for urinary infections, then again in 2021 and 2022 for colon cancer that marked the beginning of the end.

He took his health problems with his signature humour.

“I will face this match with a smile on my face,” he posted on Instagram in September 2021, following surgery to remove a colon tumor.

He was deeply moved when Maradona, his longtime friend and rival, died of a heart attack in 2020 at the age of 60.

“The world has lost a legend,” he wrote.

“I hope one day, we will play ball together in the sky.”

/MUF

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