The legend of Brazil, Pele is no more. Brazilian icon Pele died on Thursday from cancer-related complications. Pele, considered by many to be the greatest football player ever, had recently been having health issues. He was seen using a wheelchair at the 2018 World Cup. He was hospitalized a month later after fainting from exhaustion.
He underwent a colonoscopy in September 2021 to remove a tumor, and he had been receiving routine medical care ever since. However, he had been readmitted to the hospital sometime near the end of 2022. Pele’s condition did not improve, and as his family recognized, he spent Christmas and the whole 2022 World Cup in the hospital in Sao Paulo. Pele’s daughter Kely Nascimento provided the world with regular updates on her father throughout the month as news of his illness spread before his passing was formally announced on December 29.
For Santos, Pele made his professional debut in 1956, kicking off a career that would radically change the game. With his distinct playing style and prolific goal-scoring over the course of the next 21 years, the Brazilian striker would fundamentally alter the game of football, solidifying his reputation as one of the most talented players to ever set foot on a football pitch.
Pele made his dramatic debut at the 1958 World Cup, leading Brazil to victory while donning the No. 10 and displaying a variety of previously unheard-of abilities. For his heroics, he was given the nickname O Rei (The King). After scoring a hat-trick against France in the semifinal and a brace against Sweden in the final, he returned to Mexico in 1962 as clearly the best player in the world.
Pele spent an incredible 18 years with Santos of Brazil, winning two Copa Libertadores titles and six Brazilian championships. He spent most of his post-retirement years serving as an ambassador abroad. In the lucrative NASL, he subsequently spent his final two years playing for the New York Cosmos.
He retired as Brazil’s all-time best scorer with 77 goals from 92 matches, becoming the only player in history to win three World Cups. Pele reportedly scored over 1200 goals during his brilliant playing career, including during international friendlies and tours. He also served as an inspiration for the next generation of footballers with his indisputable brilliance and avant-garde flair.
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