Sao Paulo, Brazil, 30 December 2022 - Pelé, the Brazilian soccer legend who won three World Cups and became the sport’s first global icon, has died at the age of 82.
“Everything that we are, is thanks to you,” his daughter Kely Nascimento wrote in a post on Instagram, under an image of family members holding Pele’s hands. “We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
Pelé was admitted to a hospital in São Paulo in late November for a respiratory infection and for complications related to colon cancer. Last week, the hospital said his health had worsened as his cancer progressed. He died on Thursday from multiple organ failure due to the progression of colon cancer, according to a statement from Albert Einstein Hospital.
For more than 60 years, the name Pelé has been synonymous with soccer. He played in four World Cups and is the only player in history to win three, but his legacy stretched far beyond his trophy haul and remarkable 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.
Tributes have been pouring in for the soccer legend. Pelé’s first club, Santos FC, responded to the news on Twitter with the words “eternal” shared next to an image of a crown.
Portuguese star forward Cristiano Ronaldo sent his condolences to Brazil in a post on Instagram, saying “a mere “goodbye” to the eternal King Pelé will never be enough to express the pain that currently engulfs the entire football world.”
Kylian Mbappé of Paris Saint-Germain said of Pelé’s death: “The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten.”
Former English soccer player Geoff Hurst wrote on Twitter of his memories of Pelé, calling the late star “without doubt the best footballer I ever played against (with Bobby Moore being the best footballer I ever played alongside). For me Pele remains the greatest of all time and I was proud to be on the the pitch with him. RIP Pele and thank you.”