Pelé, Brazil's National Hero, Passes Away at 82


| LAST UPDATE 01/01/2023

By Elizabeth Russo
Brazil soccer pele dies
Bettman / Contributor via Getty Images

The Brazilian King of soccer, Edson Arantes do Nascimento or Pelé', has died after battling colon cancer at 82 years old. Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and officially deemed "the greatest" by FIFA, Pelé's memory will go down in history for years to come as one of the most influential figures in sports history. Here's a look back.

The greatest player of all time began his career at only 15 when he began playing for Santos before joining the Brazil national team at 16. Nicknamed O Rei or The King, he was the only soccer player to take home three FIFA World Cups: 1958, 1962, and 1970, and has since been named a national hero for doing so. During his 14-year international career, The King scored the title of Brazil's joint record scorer and scored 77 goals for his country in 92 appearances. He played a total of 1,363 professional games, scoring 1,281 goals. Besides being the greatest soccer player ever to live, Pelé was the light and soul of the Brazilian people and completely transformed the standards of soccer into "the beautiful game" that it is.

Kylian Mbappé Pelé Death Instagram
 FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images
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Since 2021, Pelé has been undergoing treatment for colon cancer and was officially hospitalized last month before he passed away due to multiple organ failures as a result of cancer. Following the death of the beloved King of soccer, Pelé's face was lit on many buildings across the country as fans roamed the streets to mourn his death wearing his iconic number 10 shirt. The Brazilian government even declared three days of national mourning in honor of their eternal King.

In honor of his life, fellow soccer stars took to their social media to honor the true legend and great friend. "Pelé changed everything. He transformed football into art, entertainment," Neymar, fellow Brazilian soccer great, wrote, "Football and Brazil elevated their standing thanks to the King! He is gone, but his magic will endure. Pelé is eternal!" French superstar Kylian Mbappé took to his Instagram to share a photo of the two of them, writing, "his legacy will never be forgotten." World Cup champ Lionel Messi and soccer icon Christiano Ronaldo also shared meaningful tributes to their social media in honor of the greatest soccer player of all time. RIP.

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