Soccer legend Pelé dead at 82

Soccer legend Pelé dead at 82

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé, who is often named as the greatest player of all time, has died at the age of 82.

The sporting superstar, who won three World Cups with his country from 1958 to 1970, passed away on Thursday, his manager Joe Fraga confirmed.

He had been suffering from ill health in recent years and had a colon tumour removed in 2021. He was readmitted to Albert Einstein hospital in São Paulo in November amid deteriorating health and reports emerged he was receiving end-of-life care, although these were initially denied.

A statement from the hospital on 21 December said he "requires further care related to renal and cardiac dysfunctions" after the "progression" of his colon cancer.

Social media posts from his daughter Kely Nascimento showed family members visiting him over Christmas, and on Thursday, she shared a photo on Instagram showing a close-up of what appeared to be her loved ones' hands resting on Pelé's body.

"Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace," she wrote in the caption.

The news was also confirmed on Pelé's Twitter account with a message that reads: "Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today. Love, love and love, forever."

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé shot to fame as the star of the Brazilian team that won the country's first World Cup in Sweden in 1958. The team retained their title in Chile in 1962, although Pelé played a smaller role in the tournament due to injury. Injuries again marred a failed attempt at a three-peat in England in 1966 before his crowning glory, winning the 1970 competition in a Brazil side often regarded as the greatest of all time.

The 1970 win made him a true global icon of soccer, with Brazil's yellow shirts with green trim - seen by many for the first time on colour television - becoming seen as a symbol of the beautiful side of the game.

Pelé's status as the best soccer player of all time was for many years challenged by the Argentinian Diego Maradona, who died in 2020.

Over the course of his career, Pelé scored a reported 1,283 goals in 1,367 professional matches, including 77 goals for the Brazilian national team. He spent the majority of it playing for Brazil's Santos team, with him joining the New York Cosmos in his final years as a player.

After retiring from the game, Pelé served as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and as an Extraordinary Minister for Sport in the Brazilian government and travelled the world as an honoured guest at soccer's biggest events.