Soccer great Pelé died in São Paulo on Thursday at age 82, according to the Associated Press.
The celebrated Brazilian athlete, whose birth name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, died of complications from cancer. Pelé had a tumor removed from his colon in 2021 and had been hospitalized at the Albert Einstein Hospital since the end of November, the L.A. Times reports.
A tribute posted on his official Twitter page read, “Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today. Love, love and love, forever.”
Italian football journalist Fabrizio Romano wrote, “Brazilian legend Pelé has passed away at 82, one of the greatest of all time who changed the game. A man with a god-given talent, one of the names who will remain forever in the memory. All thoughts with the family. RIP, legend.”
England’s Premiere League tweeted, “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Pele, an extraordinarily gifted footballer who transcended our sport and inspired millions throughout his remarkable career. Our thoughts and sincere condolences go to Pele’s family and friends.”
In his 21-year career, Pelé scored 1,281 goals, 757 which were official. Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal currently holds the all-time record with 819 official goals.
In 2015, Ronaldo said, “Pelé is the greatest player in football history. And there will only be one Pelé.”
He made his debut with the Brazilian national team at 16 and became the youngest player in history to score an international goal. In 1958, he became the youngest World Cup goal scorer, at age 17 years and 239 days, a record he still held as of November. He played in four World Cups and won three. Until recently, he was the fifth top scorer in the history of the competition.
Dutch soccer player Johan Cruyff previously said of the star, “Pelé was the only footballer who surpassed the boundaries of logic.”
Pelé retired from professional soccer on Oct. 1, 1977 at the age of 36 with an exhibition game for the New York Cosmos against his former team from Brazil, Santos.
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