Pele, the Brazilian football king, who won three World Cups and became one of the most commanding figures in sports, died on Thursday at the age of 82.
He passed away at 3:27 p.M., As a result of multiple organ failures stemming from the progressive state of his previous colon cancer. Pele, who had been undergoing treatment at Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, had been hospitalized for several months due to various health issues. Since 2021, he had undergone treatment for colon cancer, earning him the title of “the standard-bearer of the beautiful game.”
Prior to interment, his coffin will be transported along the streets of Santos, the seaside town where his illustrious profession commenced, with a funeral scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.
“All that we are is thanks to you,” his daughter Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram. “We love you endlessly. Rest in peace.”.
His representative, Joe Fraga, verified his demise: “The monarch has departed.”
Marcotti: Pele was the standard for all the greats of the sport – Pele’s top colleagues, from Garrincha to ‘Dream Attack’.
The funeral of Pele, a legendary soccer player, will be held on Monday and Tuesday at Vila Belmiro Stadium, outside Sao Paulo, where some of his best games were played. It was announced on Thursday.
In a statement, outgoing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro declared three days of mourning, stating that Pele was a great patriot and citizen who went wherever Brazil’s name was raised.
Pele, widely regarded as one of the greatest football players, spent nearly two decades enchanting opponents and enchanting fans as the most prolific scorer in the game for both the national team of Brazil and the Brazilian club Santos.
His nation’s grace on the pitch embodied a samba-esque panache that transformed the game – a rapid, smooth manner that he directed. Athletes and supporters were captivated by his elegance, athleticism, and captivating maneuvers.
Paulo Sao, who started his journey on the streets, became a global ambassador for his sport and took Brazilian football to new heights, where he would kick a sock stuffed with rags or newspapers.
When discussing the greatest football players, only the late Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo are brought up alongside Pele.
Pele’s goal totals vary depending on the sources, ranging from 650 (in league matches) to 1,281 (including all senior matches, with some against lower-level opponents).
At the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, the tournament witnessed the introduction of The King, who became the youngest player ever at the age of 17.
He was carried off the field on his teammates’ shoulders after scoring two goals in Brazil’s 5-2 victory over the host country in the final.
In Mexico, Pele symbolized his nation’s victory in the 1970 World Cup, but he was only able to play in two matches due to injury when Brazil defended their world championship in 1962.
In the final, Alberto Carlos set up a goal with a casual pass, leading Italy to a 4-1 victory.
His distinctive goal celebration – a jump with a raised right fist above his head, continues to captivate football enthusiasts worldwide, just like the iconic image of Pele wearing a vibrant yellow Brazil jersey, adorned with the number 10 at the back.
Pele’s fame was such that he could play an exhibition match in Nigeria, where factions of a civil war agreed to a brief ceasefire in 1967.
In 1997, he was awarded the title of knight by Queen Elizabeth II of Britain. When he visited Washington to promote the game in North America, it was the president of the United States who extended his hand first.
“Everyone is familiar with Pele,” the host informed his guest. “However, there’s no need for you to introduce yourself as I happen to hold the position of the President of the United States of America,” declared Ronald Reagan, mentioning my name.
Pele, Brazil’s first modern Black national hero, rarely spoke about racism in the country, where the powerful and rich tend to hail from the minority white.
Pele was subjected to racial abuse from opposing fans, who taunted him with derogatory chants both in his home country and internationally.
One of Pele’s biographers, Angelica Basthi, mentioned, ‘He stated that he would never participate if he had to halt each time he perceived those chants.’
“He is crucial for the pride of Black individuals in Brazil, but he never aspired to be a symbol.”
Pele’s life after retiring from football was filled with various roles. He served as a politician, holding the position of Brazil’s exceptional minister for sport. Additionally, he was involved in the business sector as a wealthy entrepreneur, and he also served as an ambassador for UNESCO and the United Nations.
He had parts in films and television dramas, and he even created music and produced albums of popular Brazilian music.
He made fewer frequent appearances and travels as his health deteriorated. He did not attend the ceremony to unveil a statue representing him as Brazil’s representative in the 1970 World Cup, and he was often seen in a wheelchair during his final years.
Pele celebrated his 80th birthday in seclusion with a small number of family members at a beach residence.
Pele was raised by shining shoes to purchase his humble soccer equipment. He was born as Edson Arantes do Nascimento in the small town of Tres Coracoes in the heartland of Minas Gerais state on October 23, 1940.
It didn’t take long for him to make it to the senior squad. Santos brought him to their youth squads, where he caught the attention of Pele with his talent, and he was only 11 years old when he became a professional local player.
In spite of being young and standing at a height of 5-foot-8, he effortlessly scored against grown individuals, just as he did against his friends in his hometown.
At the age of 16 in 1956, he debuted with the Brazilian club, and the team quickly garnered international recognition.
Pele got his name from mistakenly pronouncing the name of a player named Bile.
– Photo Gallery: Pele’s playing career and life in pictures – Farewell to ‘the King’: Soccer world reacts to death of Pele.
His initial goal, in which he skillfully lifted the ball over the defender’s head and swiftly maneuvered around him to strike it into the net, was acclaimed as one of the finest moments in World Cup history. While he played a crucial role in his nation’s championship-winning team, he attended the 1958 World Cup as a substitute player.
Pele, furious about the harsh treatment, declared that it would be his final World Cup. Brazil was eliminated in the group phase, and the 1966 World Cup in England – triumphed by the hosts – was a distressing experience for Pele, who was already acknowledged as the foremost player in the world.
In the history of the World Cup, “Salmon climbing up a waterfall” is often compared to Pele’s best save. In an astonishing move, Pele flipped the ball over the bar, but he managed to score a certain header against England in a game. He was rejuvenated in the 1970 World Cup and his mind changed.
Pele, who played in a total of 114 matches for Brazil, including 77 official matches, scored a remarkable record of 95 goals. In the final match of the World Cup, held in Italy, he opened the scoring with a goal.
His tenure with Santos extended for three decades until he entered semi-retirement following the 1972 season.
Recognizing his status as a valuable asset, the Brazilian government stepped in to prevent his sale, amidst attempts by affluent European clubs to secure his signature.
Pele’s energy, vision, and imagination epitomized the jogo bonito – a term in Portuguese meaning ‘the beautiful game.’ He led a talented Brazilian national team with a rapid and seamless style of play on the field.
The term component of football’s vocabulary appeared in his 1977 memoir, “My Life and the Wonderful Sport.” As a member of the North American Soccer League, he became a part of the New York Cosmos in 1975.
Pele led the Cosmos to the league title in 1977, scoring 64 goals in three seasons. Although he was 34 years old, his soccer prowess gave him a higher profile in North America.
Pele concluded his career on October 1, 1977, participating in an exhibition match between the Cosmos and Santos, where he played for both teams, in front of approximately 77,000 spectators in New Jersey.
Among the important guests present was arguably the sole other sportsman whose fame extended worldwide – Muhammad Ali.
Pele would face challenging periods in his personal life, particularly when his son Edinho was apprehended on charges related to drugs.
He eventually wedded businesswoman Marcia Cibele Aoki.
Information provided by Reuters contributed to this report.