Pele dies aged 82

AFP

Pele, the Brazil great and three-time World Cup winner, has died.

The 82-year-old had been moved to palliative care early in December after his body stopped responding to cancer treatment.

Before Christmas Day, his family travelled to be by his side at the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo.

His death was confirmed by his daughter on Thursday.

"Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace," Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram.

Pele was regarded by most as one of the greatest players in the history of football, leaving an indelible legacy after a career that lasted 21 years.

He played the majority of his club career at Santos, for whom he scored 643 goals in 659 matches over an 18-year period. He also represented the New York Cosmos between 1975 and 1977.

But it was his impact for Brazil that truly cemented his status as a sporting icon and all-time football great.

He helped the Selecao to World Cup success in 1958, 1962 and 1970, with no player in the tournament's history winning it more than him.

Pele's first World Cup triumph in 1958 came when he was just 17 years and 249 days old, making him the youngest player ever to win it. He also scored in the showpiece game – no one younger has ever netted in a World Cup final.

That was one of 77 goals at international level, a haul that still has not been overhauled by a Brazilian player, though it was matched by Neymar with his goal against Croatia in the World Cup quarter-final this month.

After his retirement, Pele lent his name and influence to many charitable initiatives and will be remembered as arguably the greatest World Cup player of all time.