Brazil football legend Pelé dies at 82

Born Edison Arantes do Nascimento, he became better known as “Pelé” and is widely considered the best player ever to have graced a football pitch

The Brazilian legend and footballing icon Pelé has passed away at the age of 82 after a battle against cancer.

Born Edison (later “Edson”) Arantes do Nascimento, he became better known as “Pelé” and is widely considered the best player ever to have graced a football pitch.

He scored a remarkable 77 goals in just 92 international appearances for Brazil and was part of the world-renowned national teams that won three World Cups between 1958 and 1970.

Over Pelé’s 21-year domestic career he represented just two clubs. Debuting in 1956 for his boyhood team, Santos, he made 636 appearances for the squad before spending two years with New York Cosmos, of the now-abolished North American Soccer League. On retirement in 1976, he had scored 655 club goals in 700 games.

Among scores of accolades, Pelé was voted World Player of the Century in 2000 and named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.

He received the first-ever FIFA Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur in 2014, and analysis showed he would have won the Ballon d’Or a record seven times if it had existed during his career.


It was announced in 2021 that Pelé had undergone surgery to remove a tumour on the right side of his colon and began chemotherapy in September of that year.

In recent weeks, however, his condition appeared to have deteriorated after doctors made a comment explaining that his “tumour had advanced”.

Brazil players paid tribute to Pelé after their last-16 win over South Korea during the 2022 World Cup, holding up a banner with his name and picture.

His daughter Kely Nascimento wrote on 21 December: “Our Christmas at home has been suspended. We decided with the doctors that, for various reasons, it would be better for us to stay here with all the care that this new family at Einstein [the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in São Paulo] gives us.”

Pelé is survived by six children.

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