Globally adored soccer legend, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is dead.
He was 82.
The death of the Brazilian footballer, widely known as Pele, was announced on his verified social media pages on Thursday, December 29.
Pele died, surrounded by family members, hours after he reportedly spoke faintly in a viral video revealing he was losing the battle to cancer at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo, where he received treatment this month.
The statement announcing his death reads, “Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today. On his journey, Edson enchanted the world with his genius in sport, stopped a war, carried out social works all over the world and spread what he most believed to be the cure for all our problems: love.
“His message today becomes a legacy for future generations. Love, love and love, forever.”
The soccer icon, whose adeptness and professional career spanned three decades, literally trademarked football – or soccer – alongside Argentine Diego Maradona in the 20th century.
He appeared in over 1,300 matches and helped his country win the World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Yes, he had Edson Arantes do Nascimento as his childhood name, but that would give way to his most popular name ‘Pele,’ among other nicknames, including ‘Pérola Negra’, or ‘Black Pearl’.
Brazil stopped his transfer bids for decades to big European clubs as he was seen as a huge national asset that his country must protect as early as when he was 20.
Pele was born into a low-income family in Tres Coracoes, Brazil, on October 23, 1940.
A three-time World Cup winner with Brazil, he helped to stop the Nigerian civil war for two days when he appeared at an exhibition in Lagos State in 1969.
In 2000, Pelé was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century. His 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, which included friendlies, are recognised as a Guinness World Record.
At the just concluded World Cup in Qatar, participating countries, including Brazil, honoured him and wished him well while he was at the hospital.
Many football fans, especially those well knowledgeable about football revolution from the last century, snugly situate Pele in the unrivalled ‘Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T)’ position, with many fans of Argentina’s mercurial World-Cup winning midfielder, Diego Maradona, also late now, shooing him in into contention.
Debate has been raging, mostly among fans of 21st century football on who could contest the G.O.A.T. with Pele and Maradona between the ‘little’ genius Lionel Messi, who just won the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina, and the Portuguese talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom have dominated the Ballon d’or award between them for 12 years.
While, mostly, informed and experienced football analysts have no prevarication about Pele as the G.O.A.T, the mention of Messi and Ronaldo has always been the exclusive of young football fans.