Legendary Pelé, Brazil’s Soccer King, Has Passed Away

Brazilian legend Pelé, one of the best-known sports personalities worldwide, dubbed the “king of soccer,” has passed away at 82 after battling cancer since last year.

Reagan Said He Needed No Introduction

As one of the most emblematic sports personalities of the 20th century, Pelé led Brazil to a record three World Cups.

Upon visiting Washington, DC, to promote the sport in the 1980s, he was greeted by then-President Ronald Reagan, who introduced himself and declared Pelé needed no introduction, as “everyone knows who” he was.

Pelé had been treated for colon cancer since 2021. He passed away in a hospital where he was admitted a month ago. His death was caused by multiple organ failure due to the disease, The Associated Press reported.

“Pelé changed everything,” Neymar, a star player of Brazil’s present-day soccer team, wrote on Instagram. He insisted that Pele’s “magic will endure,” and that both soccer and Brazil got “elevated… thanks to the King.”

“Pelé is eternal!” Neymar declared. A funeral for the global legend will be held on Monday and Tuesday in Santos, a coastal Brazilian city where he started his career.

It was with Brazilian club Santos as well as Brazil’s national team that Pelé enchanted global audiences. According to different sources, he scored 650 goals in league matches and a total of 1,281 goals in all senior games he played.

Pele’s story has been celebrated worldwide for decades as his journey started in poverty on the streets of Brazil’s Sao Paulo state, where he didn’t have a real soccer ball and kicked socks stuffed with rags or newspapers.

Rags to World Fame and Riches Story

The report notes Pele is deemed among the greatest soccer players of all time, alongside the late Diego Maradona of Argentina and today’s Lionel Messi, also of Argentina, and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal.

Pele was originally given the name Edson Arantes do Nascimento in 1940. His globally known nickname came after he mispronounced the name of another player called Bile.

He joined the Santos club at the age of 15, in 1956, and in 1958, at 17, playing in his first World Cup in Sweden, where he became the youngest player in the tournament.

In the 1958 final, he scored twice for Brazil’s 5-2 victory over hosts Sweden. Pele triumphed again with the World Cup in 1962, even though he played in only two matches due to an injury.

His star shined even more brightly in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico when he scored and gave a scoring pass in the final for Brazil’s 4-1 win over Italy.

Even today, Brazil remains in the lead, having won five World Cups – three with Pele playing a significant role – while nations such as Germany and Italy remain with four World Cup titles.

In 1997, Pele, already a global ambassador for soccer, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the UK.

Even 30 years earlier, in 1967, his popularity was so great that two warring sides in Nigeria’s civil war negotiated a ceasefire so he could participate in an exhibition match in the African country.

After retiring from soccer, Pele served as Brazil’s Extraordinary Minister for Sport, a UN and UNESCO ambassador, and grew to become a wealthy businessman.

This article appeared in Mainstpress and has been published here with permission.