Brazilian soccer legend Pelé dies aged 82


Pelé, the Brazilian soccer legend who won three World Cups and became the sport’s first global icon, has died aged 82.

« All we are is thanks to you, » her daughter Kely Nascimento wrote in an Instagram post. “We love you infinitely. Rest in peace. »

Pelé was admitted to a hospital in São Paulo in late November for a respiratory infection and complications from colon cancer. Last week, the hospital said his condition had deteriorated as his cancer progressed.

For more than 60 years, the name Pelé has been synonymous with football. He has played in four World Cups and is the only player in history to win three, but his legacy extends far beyond his trophy and remarkable goalscoring record.

“I was born to play football, just like Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint,” Pelé said.

Pelé was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações – an inland city about 250 km northwest of Rio de Janeiro – in 1940, before his family moved to the city of Bauru in São Paulo.

As a child, his first taste of football was playing barefoot in socks and balled up rags – a humble beginning that would become a long and successful career.

But in his early days in the game, his ambitions were modest.

“My dad was a good soccer player, he scored a lot of goals,” Pelé told CNN in 2015. “His name was Dondinho; I wanted to be like him.

“He was famous in Brazil, in Minas Gerais. He was my role model. I always wanted to be like him, but what happened, to this day, only God can explain.

As a teenager, Pelé left home and started training with Santos, scoring his first goal for the club before his 16th birthday. He would go on to score 619 times in 638 appearances for the club, but it is his exploits in Brazil’s iconic yellow shirt that he is best remembered for.

The world first got a glimpse of Pelé’s dazzling abilities in 1958, when he made his World Cup debut aged 17. He scored Brazil’s only goal in the country’s quarter-final victory over Wales, then netted a hat-trick in the semi-final against France and two in the final against hosts Sweden.

This is a developing story…

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