The standard bearer of the “beautiful game” has been undergoing treatment for colon cancer since 2021. He has been hospitalized for the past month for many illnesses.
“All we have is thanks to you,” his daughter Kelly Nascimento wrote on Instagram. “We love you endlessly. Rest in peace.”
His agent, Joe Fraga, confirmed his death: “The king has passed away.”
Considered by many to be one of football’s greatest players, Pelé has spent nearly two decades enchanting fans and stunning opponents as the all-time top scorer. against Brazilian club Santos and the Brazilian national team.
His grace, athleticism and mesmerizing moves left players and fans in awe. He orchestrated a fast, fluid style that revolutionized the sport — a samba-like flair that showcased his country’s elegance on the court.
He catapulted Brazil to the pinnacle of football and became a global ambassador for his sport in a journey that began on the streets of Sao Paulo state, where he would kick in a sock stuffed with newspapers or rags. torn.
In the conversation about football’s greatest players, only the late Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were mentioned along with Pelé.
Various sources, taking into account different series, list Pelé’s total goals to range from 650 (league matches) to 1,281 (all high-level matches, some in matches). low level).
The so-called “King” player was introduced to the world at the age of 17 at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, the youngest player ever to attend the tournament. He was carried off the field by his teammates after scoring twice in Brazil’s 5-2 win over the host country in the final.
Injuries kept him out of only two games when Brazil won the 1962 world championship, but Pelé was symbolic of his country’s 1970 World Cup win in Mexico. He scored in the final and assisted Carlos Alberto with a nonchalant pass that scored the final goal in a 4-1 win over Italy.
The image of Pelé in Brazil’s bright yellow jersey, with the number 10 stamped on the back, lives on with football fans everywhere. As well as his signature goal celebration – a jump with his right fist raised overhead.
Pelé’s reputation was such that in 1967 factions in the Nigerian civil war agreed to a brief ceasefire so he could play a friendly match in the country. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of England in 1997. When he visited Washington to help popularize the game in North America, it was the US president who took the initiative.
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“My name is Ronald Reagan, I am the president of the United States of America,” the host told his guest. “But you don’t have to introduce yourself because everyone knows who Pelé is.”
Pelé is Brazil’s first modern black national hero but rarely speaks of racism in a country where the rich and powerful tend to come from the white minority.
Rival fans mocked Pelé with monkey chants at home and around the world.
Angelica Basthi, one of Pelé’s biographers, said: “He said he would never play if he had to stop every time he heard those chants. “He was the key to Black pride in Brazil, but never wanted to be a flag bearer.”
Pelé’s life after football took many forms. He is a politician – Brazil’s Minister of Special Sports – a wealthy businessman, as well as an ambassador for UNESCO and the United Nations.
He has had roles in movies, TV plays and even composed songs and recorded popular Brazilian music CDs.
As his health declined, his travels and appearances became less frequent. He was often seen in a wheelchair in the last years of his life and did not attend the inauguration of a statue of him representing Brazil at the 1970 World Cup. Pelé spent her 80th birthday in a dignified manner. with a few family members at a beach house.
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Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, in the small town of Tres Coracoes in the interior of the state of Minas Gerais on October 23, 1940, Pelé grew up polishing shoes to buy his modest football kit.
Pelé’s talent caught the eye when he was 11, and a local pro brought him to Santos’ youth team. It didn’t take long for him to make it into the senior squad.
Despite his youth and 5-foot-8 frame, he scored against the grown men with the same ease he showed in front of his friends back home. He made his Brazilian club debut at the age of 16 in 1956, and the club quickly gained worldwide recognition.
The name Pelé comes from his mispronouncing the name of a player named Bile.
He arrived at the 1958 World Cup as a substitute but became a key player for his country’s winning team. His first goal, in which he dribbled the ball over a defender’s head and ran around him to catch a volley, was voted one of the best in World Cup history.
The 1966 World Cup in England – the winning team – was a bitter World Cup for Pelé, already considered the top player in the world at the time. Brazil were eliminated in the group stage and Pelé, angered by the rough treatment, swore that this would be his last World Cup.
He changed his mind and rejuvenated in the 1970 World Cup. In a match against England, he headed home the winner, but brilliant goalkeeper Gordon Banks cleared the ball over the bar in one game. amazing move. Pelé likened the save – one of the best in World Cup history – to “a trout climbing a waterfall”. He then scored the opening goal in the final against Italy, his last World Cup match.
In total, Pelé played 114 matches against Brazil, scoring a record 95 goals, including 77 goals in official matches.
His time with Santos lasted more than three decades until he retired after the 1972 season. Wealthy European clubs tried to sign him, but the Brazilian government failed to sign him. intervened to keep him from being sold, declaring him a national treasure.
On the pitch, Pelé’s energy, vision and imagination fueled a talented Brazilian national team with a fast, snappy style of play that epitomizes “O Jogo Bonito” – Portuguese for ” Nice game.” His 1977 autobiography, “My Life and the Beautiful Game,” made the phrase part of football’s vocabulary.
In 1975, he joined the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. Although 34 years old and well past his prime, Pelé has helped make football more popular in North America. He led the Cosmos to the 1977 championship and scored 64 goals in three seasons.
Pelé ended his career on October 1, 1977, in an exhibition between Cosmos and Santos in front of a crowd of about 77,000 people in New Jersey. He played half the match with each club. Among the dignitaries present was perhaps the only famous athlete in the world: Muhammad Ali.
Pelé will have to go through difficult times in his personal life, especially when his son Edinho is arrested on drug-related charges. Pelé has two illegitimate daughters and five children from his first two marriages, to Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi and Assiria Seixas Lemos. He later married businesswoman Marcia Cibele Aoki.
Azzoni reports from Madrid.