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.
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.”
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”.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele made his international debut at the age of 16 and announced himself to a global audience in 1958, when, still only 17, he scored six goals in four games as Brazil won the World Cup for the first time. He scored twice in a 5-2 final win over Sweden in Stockholm.