Brazilian soccer legend Pelé, arguably the greatest player to have ever lived, has died at age 82. The former Santos and Brazil national team player had been battling numerous cancerous tumors recently. The term superstar does not begin to do justice when it comes to describing his accolades. He is considered by many to be the king of the sport.
"Everything we are is because of you," his daughter Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram on Thursday. "We love you infinitely. Rest in peace."
The following statement was released under his social media handle:
Pelé had been in and out of the hospital over the last few years, dealing with various medical issues, including pain as the result of hip surgery. In January, he was discharged from the hospital after two days of cancer treatment while he had a colon tumor removed last year, undergoing chemotherapy ever since, according to Reuters. He returned to the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo on November 29th, for "re-evaluation of the chemotherapy treatment over the colon cancer identified in September 2021," according to a statement from the hospital at the time.
"Before Pelé, 10 was just a number," Neymar wrote on Instagram. "I've read this phrase somewhere, at some point in my life. But this beautiful sentence is incomplete. I would say that before Pelé, football was merely a sport. Pelé changed it all. He turned football into art, into entertainment. Gave voice to the poor, to black people and mostly: gave visibility to Brazil. Football and Brazil raised their status thanks to the King! He's gone but his magic remains. Pelé is FOREVER!"
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Last week, the hospital said that Pelé would remain there as his cancer was causing liver and heart complications. "Our Christmas at home has been suspended," Nascimento wrote on Instagram. "We decided with the doctors that, for various reasons, it would be better for us to stay here."
The only player to have won three World Cups, Pelé spent most of his career with Brazilian giants Santos, scoring 618 goals in 636 games. He helped Brazil win the World Cups of 1958, 1962 and 1970 while he also played a big role in the increased interest in the sport in the United States after his retirement from the national team.
Pele signed for the New York Cosmos of the NASL and played from 1975-77. A striker, one of the most prolific scorers in history, he had 655 goals from 700 official club games. The first-ever Brazilian Minister of Sports, he also holds countless records and was named FIFA Player of the Century, alongside Diego Maradona. Pelé won 25 trophies with Santos alone.
He is currently tied as Brazil's all-time leading scorer with 77 goals, level with Neymar. He was also named the Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee in 1999. The superstar also recorded 1,281 career goals, including non-official matches, in a total of 1,363 appearances. Pelé is also the youngest player to ever score in a World Cup and the youngest to ever appear in the final.
The South American returned to hospital last month after failing to respond to chemotherapy treatment for colon cancer and was then moved to palliative care after a respiratory infection was also discovered.
When Pelé's health took a turn for the worse during the World Cup his face was projected onto a building in Qatar which is with the message "get well soon" while Brazilian fans paid tribute to him in the stands as his beloved Seleçao lost 1-0 to Cameroon in their final group stage match.