Hummingbird News Desk
NEWS DELHI, 29 DEC: The legendary Brazilian footballer Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele, widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and the only player to have won the FIFA World Cup thrice, has died at the age of 82, his family said Thursday.
“Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace,” daughter Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram. The iconic footballer had been battling colon cancer and was admitted in a hospital for a respiratory problem on 29 November. He cheered for the Brazilian team during the recently concluded FIFA World Cup in Qatar from the hospital bed.
The magical Pele, was born on 23 October, 1940, at Tres Coracoes, in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais. He gained global superstardom after playing an important part in Brazil’s maiden FIFA World Cup triumph in 1958. Still a teenager, Pele fired in a hat-trick in the semi-final against France and followed it up with a brace in the final against Sweden to help the Selecaowin the first of their record five world titles.
He was part of the team again that defended the title in 1962, before adding a third World Cup to his name in 1970, when Brazil famously defeated Italy in the final. He scored 12 goals in the World Cup during his career.
It is only fitting that Pele remained the highest goal-scorer for Brazil, with 77 goals in 95 games, during his lifetime. His record was tied by current Brazil sensation Neymar, during the team’s quarter-final loss in the World Cup earlier this month.
Pelé’s death has sparked a huge outpouring of emotion in his native Brazil, with politicians, celebrities and sporting icons uniting to celebrate Brazil’s departed king.
The Brazilian government led the tributes tweeting: “Football perfection; the King was almost synonymous with his homeland. Generations to come will remember him as a gentleman off the field, and a magician on it”.
Brazil’s incoming president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said he believed Pelé would join a heavenly kickabout with football greats such as Garrincha, Socrates and Maradona.
“Few Brazilians carried our country’s name so far,” Lula tweeted. “However different their language was to Portuguese, foreigners from all over the planet always found a way of pronouncing the magic word: ‘Pelé’”
“Thank you Pelé for all the happiness you gave us!” tweeted the samba star Zeca Pagodinho.
Pelé’s former club Santos tweeted an image of a crown alongside a single word: “Eternal”.
Pele breathed his last following colon cancer, for which he was undergoing chemotherapy. However, he stopped responding to chemotherapy and was shifted to palliative care. Pele had a tumour removed from his colon in 2021 and was taking chemotherapy ever since.
The Brazilian football player, also termed ‘The Greatest’ by FIFA, had been married thrice. He had a total of 7 children.
(With inputs from agencies)