Legendary Brazilian Soccer Icon Pelé Passes Away at the Age of 82, Leaving a Storied Legacy in the World of Football

The three-time World Cup champion died Thursday amid ongoing treatments for colon cancer

70 facts about Brazil legend Pele | Goal.com English Oman

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé, considered by many to be the greatest soccer player in history, has died. He was 82.

“Everything that we are, is thanks to you,” his daughter Kely Nascimento said in a post on Instagram on Thursday. “We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”

The three-time World Cup champion — who won the title alongside Brazil in 1958, 1962, and 1970 — had been undergoing treatment for colon cancer since September 2021, when he had a tumor removed from his large intestine.

He was again hospitalized in December 2021, so he could receive chemotherapy treatment for a colon tumor at Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein Hospital.

Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis/Getty

Earlier this month, Pelé was transferred to a palliative care unit at a Brazilian hospital after his medical team stopped seeing results from his chemotherapy treatment, according to a report from the daily newspaper Folha de S.Paulo.

Football and the world mourns Pelé

The outlet reported that his chemotherapy was suspended so that he could receive “comforting treatment” for pain relief without “invasive therapies.”

NASL Soccer: NASL Playoffs: New York Cosmos Pele (10) victorious after winning match vs Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Giants Stadium. East Rutherford, NJ 8/14/1977 CREDIT: George Tiedemann (Photo by George Tiedemann /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
Late soccer legend Pelé while playing for New York Cosmos in 1977. George Tiedemann /Sports Illustrated via Getty

Prior to his transfer to the palliative care unit, Nascimento shared an update in November on her father’s health, noting that her father was “in the hospital regulating medication” while some of her siblings were “visiting [him in] Brazil.”

Nascimento stressed there was “no emergency or new dire prediction” amid her father’s ongoing health issues, and remained hopeful she’d see her dad as the two rang in 2023. “I will be there for New Years and promise to post some pictures,” she told fans, adding that she and her family “really and truly appreciate the concern and love” for her father.

Pelé — who was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on Oct. 23, 1940, in the small city of Tres Coracoes — is widely considered to be one of the greatest soccer players ever to grace the sport.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 22: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Pele comes onto the pitch at half time of the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester Untied at Anfield on March 22, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty

For nearly 20 years, he played for Brazilian club Santos and the Brazil national team, becoming the game’s most prolific scorer in the process. His success earned him the nickname “The King,” and made the image of his trademark celebratory leap — his fist propelled over his head — instantly burned into the minds of soccer fans globally.

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The name Pelé came to him at a young age, he told The Guardian in 2006, after he mispronounced Bilé, the nickname of a goalie on his father’s team.

He retired from soccer on Oct. 1, 1977, nearly two years after he joined the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. His final exhibition, in front of a record 77,000 soccer fans in New Jersey, was particularly special because it was between the Cosmos and Santos.

To honor his long career, Pelé played half the game with each club.

Pelé is survived by six of his seven children and his wife, businesswoman Marcia Cibele Aoki.

“Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today,” a message on his Instagram page read Thursday. “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,” it continued. “Love, love and love, forever.”

VFF offers condolences over passing of Brazilian football legend Pelé |  Culture - Sports | Vietnam+ (VietnamPlus)

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