São Paulo, Brazil – Football icon Pelé, widely regarded as the greatest player of all time has died at the age of 82, according to his family and medical team.
Pelé, whose real name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, suffered from various health issues in recent years including kidney and prostate problems and had been hospitalised several times. He passed away on Wednesday at his home in São Paulo surrounded by his loved ones.
Pelé who was born in Três Corações, Minas Gerais in 1940, began his football career at the age of 15 when he joined Santos FC, a Brazilian club. He quickly became a sensation and a national hero, leading Santos to numerous titles and breaking records with his speed, skill, and vision.
Pelé was also a key member of the Brazilian national team, which he helped win three World Cups (1958, 1962, and 1970), becoming the only player to do so. He scored a total of 1,281 goals in his career, including 77 for Brazil and 1,000 for Santos, making him the most prolific goalscorer in football history.
Pelé, who was known for his humble and gracious personality, was also a trailblazer and a role model for millions of fans around the world. He was the first global sports superstar and the first black athlete to gain worldwide recognition and respect. He used his fame and influence to promote football and peace and to fight against racism and inequality.
Pelé’s death has triggered an outpouring of grief and tributes from the football community and beyond. “Pelé was more than a sportsman, he was a national hero and a global ambassador for football,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “He will be deeply missed and never forgotten.”
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro declared three days of national mourning and ordered flags to be flown at half-mast. The Brazilian Football Confederation also announced that it will retire the number 10 shirt, which Pelé wore with distinction in his honour.
Pelé’s legacy and achievements will live on, not only as a symbol of excellence and inspiration but also as a testament to the power of sports to bring people together and transcend borders and cultures. He will be remembered as the King of Football, the Greatest of All Time, and a symbol of hope and joy for generations to come.