Brazil legend Pele dies aged 82 after battle with cancer

Brazil legend Pele dies aged 82 after battle with cancer

Pele, regarded by many as the greatest footballer of all time, has died aged 82.

Brazil was plunged into mourning after the passing of the three-time World Cup winner was confirmed by his agent on Thursday.

Pele had been receiving chemotherapy for bowel cancer was admitted to hospital in Sao Paulo earlier this month having contracted a respiratory infection after a bout of Covid-19.

It was confirmed recently that the sporting icon would spend Christmas in hospital with his cancer worsening and treatment also needed for heart and kidney problems.

His son Edinho had joined daughter Kely Nascimento at his bedside as fears heightened over his health.

A statement on Thursday said: “The Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein regretfully confirms the death of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele, today, December 29, 2022, at 3:27 pm, due to the failure of multiple organs, a result of the progression of cancer of colon associated with his previous clinical condition.

“Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein sympathises with the family and everyone who suffers from the loss of our dear King of Football.”

Pele is the only player to win the World Cup three times - in 1958, 1962 and 1970 - and he remains Brazil’s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals, tied with Neymar after the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

Officially, he scored 757 goals in 831 games during a glittering career from 1957 to 1977, although his club Santos claim his tally was closer to 1,000.

Pele had been undergoing treatment since September 2021 and had surgery to remove a tumour from his colon last year. It was more recently reported that his cancer cells had spread and his health deteriorated.

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele grew up in poverty in the state of Sao Paulo. He was originally apprenticed to be a shoemaker but developed a talent for football by kicking a rolled-up sock stuffed with rags around the streets.

In Pictures | Pele

Pele: Netflix (Netflix)
Pele: Netflix (Netflix)
Pele with the World Cup in 2015 (Getty Images)
Pele with the World Cup in 2015 (Getty Images)
Pele wearing his Santos jersey in 1961 (AFP via Getty Images)
Pele wearing his Santos jersey in 1961 (AFP via Getty Images)
Brazil’s Pele is hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates after Brazil won the World Cup final against Italy, 4-1, in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, June 21, 1970 (AP)
Brazil’s Pele is hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates after Brazil won the World Cup final against Italy, 4-1, in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, June 21, 1970 (AP)
Brazilian soccer legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele cries during his marriage to Brazilian Assiria Seixas Lemos on 30 April 1994 in Recife, Brazi (AFP via Getty Images)
Brazilian soccer legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele cries during his marriage to Brazilian Assiria Seixas Lemos on 30 April 1994 in Recife, Brazi (AFP via Getty Images)
Pele with the World Cup in Mexico City, 1970. Pele scored the first of his team's goals in the match (Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Pele with the World Cup in Mexico City, 1970. Pele scored the first of his team's goals in the match (Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Brazilian striker Pele (Getty Images)
Brazilian striker Pele (Getty Images)
Brazilian forward Pele dribbles past a defender during a friendly match vs Malmoe in 1960 (AFP/Getty Images)
Brazilian forward Pele dribbles past a defender during a friendly match vs Malmoe in 1960 (AFP/Getty Images)
Pele as a goalkeeper during a training session in 1963 (Getty Images)
Pele as a goalkeeper during a training session in 1963 (Getty Images)
Pele stands by a display to celebrate his 1000th professional goal in 1969 (Getty Images)
Pele stands by a display to celebrate his 1000th professional goal in 1969 (Getty Images)
Pele shoots for goal vs Czechoslovakia in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico (Getty Images)
Pele shoots for goal vs Czechoslovakia in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico (Getty Images)

Pele turned professional at 15 with Santos in 1956 and was just 16 years old when he made a scoring debut for Brazil in 1957. He rose to international fame aged 17 when he scored six goals at the 1958 World Cup, including two in the final as Brazil beat hosts Sweden 5-2 to win their first world title.

Injury affected his contribution at the 1962 World Cup but Brazil defended the Jules Rimet Trophy in Chile. In 1966, injury hit again as a brutal two-footed tackle from Portugal defender Joao Morais at Goodison Park meant he was powerless to influence a 3-1 defeat.

But Pele cemented his legend at Mexico 1970 as part of what is widely regarded as the greatest international team of all time. Fast, skilful, intelligent and strong, Pele dazzled like never before in the team that included Jairzinho and Tostao.

Brazil beat holders England in a group-stage game in which Pele was involved in two now iconic moments - Gordon Banks’ incredible save from his header and a topless embrace with Bobby Moore after the pair swapped shirts at full-time.

Brazil then beat Peru and Uruguay before dismantling Italy 4-1 in the final, with Pele opening the scoring and setting up Carlos Alberto to score one of the great World Cup goals. In total, Pele scored 12 goals at the World Cup finals.

After almost 20 years with Santos in which he won two Intercontinental Cups, Pele moved to New York Cosmos in 1975 and became the face of US football. He retired in 1977.

In 2000, Pele and Argentina legend Diego Maradona were named joint-winners of the FIFA Player of the Century award.

After the passing of Maradona in 2020, Pele said: “I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend. One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky.”