SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Legendary Brazilian footballer Pele died on Thursday at the age of 82.
Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, where Pele was being treated, said Pele died at 3:27 p.m. “due to multiple organ failure resulting from the progression of colon cancer associated with previous medical conditions.”
The death of the only man to win three World Cups as a player has been confirmed on his Instagram account.
“Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pele, who passed away peacefully today,” read, “He captivated the world with his sporting genius, stopped wars, carried out social activism around the world, and We spread what we did,” he added. Love is most believed to be the cure for all our problems. “
Tributes flooded in from the worlds of sports, politics and popular culture to the figure who symbolizes the supremacy of Brazil’s beautiful game.
The government of outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday declared three days of mourning and said in a statement that Pele was “a great citizen and patriot who made Brazil famous wherever he went.” Stated.
Bolsonaro’s successor and president-elect Luis Inacio Lula da Silva wrote on Twitter, “Few Brazilians bear the name of our country like him.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has said Pelé’s legacy will last forever. “Game. King. Forever,” Macron tweeted.
Pele had undergone chemotherapy since having a tumor removed from his colon in September 2021.
He also had difficulty walking on his own after a failed hip surgery in 2012.
On Monday, a 24-hour vigil will be held for Pelé in the middle of the field at the stadium of his hometown club Santos, where he started playing as a teenager and quickly rose to fame.
The next day, his coffin-carrying procession runs through the streets of Santos, past the neighborhood where his 100-year-old mother lives, and ends at the Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis Cemetery, where he will be buried in a private ceremony.
“What is possible”
US President Joe Biden said on Twitter that Pele’s rise from humble beginnings to football legend is a story of “what’s possible”.
Pele, whose real name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, joined Santos in 1956, transforming the small coastal club into one of football’s most recognizable names.
In addition to many regional and national titles, Pele has won two Copa Libertadores (South America’s equivalent of the Champions League) and two Intercontinental Cups (annual tournaments held between the best teams in Europe and South America). won the
He won three medals at the World Cup. The first time he was 17 years old was in Sweden in 1958, the second time he was four years later in Chile – although he missed most of the tournament due to injury – and his third time he was in 1970. It was Mexico. , when he led what is considered one of the greatest teams ever to play the game.
He retired from Santos in 1974, but made a surprise comeback a year later by signing a lucrative contract to join the then-nascent New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League.
During his illustrious 21-year career, he scored between 1,281 and 1,283 goals, depending on how the match was counted.
But Pele went beyond football to become one of the first global icons of the 20th century.
For his triumphant smile and astonishing humility that captivated many fans, he was better known than many Hollywood stars, popes and presidents. .
Ciro Campos, a 49-year-old biologist from Rio de Janeiro, said, “I’m sad but proud to be Brazilian from the country of Pele, who was a great athlete.” was a cool guy, not an arrogant athlete.”
Pele attributes his unique combination of talent, creative genius and technical skill to a young man who spent playing pick-up games in a small Brazilian town. ball.
Pele was named “Athlete of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee, “Footballer of the Century” by the International Football Federation, and a “National Treasure” by the Brazilian government.
His fame was often overwhelming. Grown adults would regularly break down in front of him. When he was a player, fans flooded the field after games in search of souvenirs for him, tearing up his shorts, socks and even underwear.
His home in Brazil was less than a mile from the beach, but he didn’t go there for 20 years for fear of crowds.
But he rarely complained, even in unguarded moments with friends. He believes his talent is a gift from God, and often has no idea how football has traveled the world, inspired cancer patients, war and famine survivors, and grown up. He was moved by how he was able to provide for his family. Sauce for next meal.
“God gave me this ability to make people happy,” he said in a 2013 interview with Reuters. I made it.”
Brazil’s CBF Football Federation said “Pele was more than the greatest sportsman of all time…the king of football was the ultimate representative of a victorious Brazil”.
French star Kylian Mbappe, who is now considered by many to be the world’s best footballer, also offered his condolences.
“The King of Football has left us, but his legacy will never be forgotten,” he wrote on Twitter.
Reported by Andrew Downie and Gabriel Araujo. Additional reporting by Peter Frontini, Carolina Pulice, and Sergio Queiroz. Edited by Gabriel Stargardter, Daniel Wallis and Rosalba O’Brien
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