On Thursday (December 29), legendary fútbol player and three-time World Cup champion Pelé died at the age of 82 after a battle with colon cancer.
“Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who passed away today,” read the official Twitter account for the icon. “Love, love and love, forever. Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today. Love, love and love, forever.”
Earlier this month, his family responded to reports that he had entered a palliative care unit at a hospital in São Paulo, Brazil.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé was regarded as one of the greatest fútbol players of all time. He played with the Brazilian club Santos FC and Brazil’s national team. He was the only player fútbol history to win the FIFA World Cup three times.
“Everything we are is thanks to you,” his daughter Kely Nascimento wrote on social media Thursday. “We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
Nicknamed “The King,” he became the youngest player to ever play in a World Cup in 1958 when he was 17 years old. He scored two goals against host country Sweden in the World Cup final to give his country the 5-2 win. He also won the World Cup in 1962 and 1970. He is currently tied with Neymar for the most goals scored for the Brazil national team with 77.
Pelé retired from the sport he loved in 1977. Before the start of his final match, he told the crowd, “Love is more important than what we can take in life.” Along with his continued role as a global ambassador for fútbol once he retired, he also served as Brazil’s Extraordinary Minister for Sport and an ambassador for UNESCO and the United Nations.
“Before Pelé, fútbol was just a sport,” Neymar wrote on social media on Thursday. “Pele changed everything. He turned fútbol into art, into entertainment. He gave voice to the poor, to black people, and mainly: He gave visibility to Brazil. Fútbol and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King! He is gone, but his magic will remain. Pele is ETERNAL!!”
With his passing, we can’t help but think of when fellow fútbol great Diego Maradona died in 2020, Pelé said, “One day, I hope we can play ball together in heaven.”