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Afro-Brazilian Soccer Icon Pelé Dies At 82

Afro-Brazilian Soccer Icon Pelé Dies At 82
Photo Credit: Getty

Pelé, who was one of the most celebrated figures in soccer, died after a prolonged battle with his health.

Pelé, arguably the most decorated soccer player to ever live, died on Thursday after a long bout with cancer. He was 82. Pelé, who was staying at the Israelita Albert Einstein hospital in São Paulo, died after multiple organs failed due to progression of colon cancer, according to the New York Times.

An official statement from Pelé’s Instagram account confirmed the news, stating:

“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.”

Over the course of his iconic career that spanned 21 years, Pelé became one of soccer’s treasured players, and one of the most prominent Black athletes in the world.

The celebrated legend was beloved by fans for his cheery personality and unwavering belief and passion in the game of soccer. He was also a winner: Known for his “o jogo bonito” technique—a football style that placed an emphasis on controlling the ball— he lead Brazil to three World Cup championships. He also won 10 league titles with his club team, Santos. For the final act of his career, he won the 1977 North American Soccer League championship with the New York Cosmos. Pelé collectively scored 1,283 goals in 1,367 professional matches, with 77 goals coming with Brazil's national team.

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on Oct. 23, 1940, in Três Corações, Brazil, Pelé was first exposed to the game through his father, Dondinho, a professional player whose career was cut short by an injury. By the time he was 14, Pelé had signed his first contract, and by the age of 16, he had made his debut for the national team. Pelé's unforgettable athletic career truly took off at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, where he used his prowess to score six goals for Brazil. His influence on the game that year, even as a young plater, would mark Brazil's first of five World Cup wins. Ever since news of Pelé's death, several prominent soccer associations have spoken out in support.

Real Madrid released an official statement about the incident praised Pelé’s legacy and great talent, stating:

"Real Madrid would like to express its condolences to his family, his loved ones, his clubs, the Brazilian Confederation and all football fans in Brazil and around the world. The legend of Pelé will remain forever in the memory of all those who love this sport and his legacy makes him one of the great legends of world football ever."

The Premier League also paid tribute to the late icon stating: "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Pele, an extraordinarily gifted footballer who transcended our sport and inspired millions throughout his remarkable career.
Our thoughts and sincere condolences go to Pele's family and friends."

Following the tragic news, football lovers worldwide took to social media to pay homage.

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