Pelé, the Brazilian soccer star who won three World Cups and established himself as the sport’s first global symbol, died at the age of 82.
The sad news was shared by his daughter Kely Nascimento. She wrote; “Everything that we are, is thanks to you,” We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
Pelé was hospitalized at a hospital in So Paulo in late November for a lung infection and colon cancer problems. The hospital announced last week that his condition had deteriorated as his cancer progressed.
Pelé’s name has been synonymous with soccer for over 60 years. He participated in four World Cups and is the only player in history to have won three of them, but his legacy extended far beyond his trophy haul and extraordinary goal-scoring record.
“I was born to play football, just like Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint,” Pelé famously said.
Pelé was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Coraçes, an inland community some 155 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, in 1940, before his family relocated to Bauru, So Paulo.
His first experience with soccer as a boy was playing barefoot with socks and rags curled up into a ball – a humble beginning that would evolve into a long and lucrative career.
But when he initially started playing, his objectives were modest.
“My dad was a good football player, he scored a lot of goals,” Pelé told CNN in 2015. “His name was Dondinho; I wanted to be like him.
“He was famous in Brazil, in Minas Gerais. He was my role model. I always wanted to be like him, but what happened, to this day, only God can explain.”
Pelé left home as a youngster and began training with Santos, scoring his first goal for the team before turning 16. He would go on to score 619 goals in 638 games for the club, but it is his exploits in Brazil’s iconic yellow jersey for which he is best remembered.
Pelé’s spectacular ability was first seen by the world in 1958, when he made his World Cup debut at the age of 17. He scored the solitary goal in Brazil’s quarterfinal win against Wales, then a hat-trick in the semifinal against France and two in the final against host Sweden.
The world will forever miss him.
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