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Home » Pelé, Legendary Brazilian Soccer Player, Passes Away at 82

Pelé, Legendary Brazilian Soccer Player, Passes Away at 82

30 December 2022, Friday
The footballing legend Pelé, who won three World Cups and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, has passed away at the age of 82.

Kely, the daughter of the late Pele, confirmed his passing on social media, saying "All that we are is thanks to you. We love you forever. Rest in peace." In response to the iconic player's passing, Brazil has declared 48 hours of national mourning. His burial is due to take place in Santos, southeast of Sao Paulo, where he had a successful career with the local club between 1956 and 1974.

Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo recently revealed that Pelé had been struggling with an advanced form of colon cancer, for which he had been receiving palliative care over the past year. The former soccer star had spent time in and out of hospital as he sought treatment for the disease.

At 3:27 p.m. local time, it was declared by Albert Einstein Hospital that Pelé had passed away due to complications caused by multiple organ failure and colon cancer.

Soccer legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento was hospitalized in December 2021 not long after he had gone through chemotherapy to treat a reported colon tumor. The athlete had announced on Instagram that he was recuperating.

Pelé over the past year has been putting to rest any concerns about his health and expressing his gratitude to fans for their unwavering support.
He took to Instagram in November 2021 to let his friends know that he was in good spirits. "Dear friends, it has been a while since we talked about this. I am happy to report that I am doing well; I am getting better each day. I cannot even hide my happiness behind my protective mask," he wrote in the post. He also expressed his gratitude to those who send him good energy every day.

In 1999, Pelé was named co-Player of the Century alongside Diego Maradona of Argentina. After his retirement, Pelé spent his time acting as a global ambassador for football and devoting himself to other charitable causes. After Maradona's death in 2020, Pelé commented, stating that he hoped one day they could play football together in the sky.

Pelé was born on October 23, 1940, in the town of Tres Coracoes in Minas Gerais, a state located in the south of Brazil. His parents named him after the renowned American inventor Thomas Edison. Pele's father, João Ramos do Nascimento, who was known by the nickname Dondinho, was a professional soccer player.

The young Edson acquired the moniker Pelé while attending school, due to his classmates mocking his pronunciation of the prominent Brazilian goalkeeper Bilé, which he detailed in a 2016 column for The Players' Tribune.
At the age of 13, he started playing for a youth team in Bauru. His talent was spotted by Santos, a Brazilian club, at 15 and he started his professional career with them.

At age 17, he quickly became a world-renowned figure for his achievements in Brazil's victorious 1958 World Cup. Throughout his career, he exclusively played in Brazil for Santos and led them to victory on six occasions in the Brazilian league. He is remembered for his impressive 618 goals in 636 games with Santos.

Pelé earned two extra World Cup trophies -- in 1962 and 1970. Consequently, he is the only player ever to have garnered three World Cup triumphs and one of only two players -- along with Vava -- to strike a goal in two winning finals.

Neymar equalled his national record at the 2022 World Cup, just before Pelé's passing, after netting his 77th goal in a match versus Croatia. This took his total of international goals to 77 in 92 appearances.

"I would say that before Pelé, football was just a sport," Neymar posted on social media. "He transformed football into an art and a form of entertainment. He gave a voice to the impoverished, blacks, and primarily brought attention to Brazil. ... Though he is gone, his magic still remains."

He finished his iconic career in 1977 with the New York Cosmos, a move that created a huge amount of hype and interest in soccer in the U.S. Supported by media mogul Steven Ross, the team recruited greats such as Pelé, Italian striker Giorgio Chinaglia and German defender Franz Beckenbauer. This was the only club apart from Santos that Pelé ever played for.

Pelé's final game, an exhibition match between the Cosmos and Santos on October 1, 1977, was a sellout event at Giants Stadium. The game was broadcasted on ABC's "Wide World of Sports," and Pelé split his time playing one half for each team.

"Pelé's name will always be remembered for its extraordinary sporting artistry and talent," said the Cosmos in a statement. "His influence and legacy on soccer is immeasurable. Farewell, O Rei."

He subsequently appeared in John Huston's 1981 World War II sports movie "Escape to Victory" with Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine.
The biographical movie "Pele: Birth of a Legend" was released in 2016, presenting the life story of the iconic athlete.

"A mere 'goodbye' cannot fully encompass the grief that the footballing world is feeling following the death of the legendary King Pelé," wrote Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, the only footballer to surpass Pelé in terms of World Cup goals scored. "He was an inspiration to millions, and his legacy will last for eternity. His love for me, even from afar, was deeply appreciated and will never be forgotten, ever present in the hearts of all the football fanatics around the world."

Pelé is widely acknowledged to have instigated an enthusiasm for the sport in the USA in the 1970s, a legacy which persists till this day.
He is survived by his spouse, Marcia Aoki, as well as his seven offspring: Edson Cholbi do Nascimento (famed as Edinho, soccer trainer and erstwhile player); daughter Sandra Regina Machado Arantes do Nascimento; football player Joshua Nascimento; son Celeste Arantes do Nascimento; and three other daughters, Kely Cristina Nascimento, Flávia Christina Kurtz Nascimento and Jennifer Nascimento.

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