Pelé, Brazilian World Cup winner and football great, dies aged 82

Pelé, a three-time World Cup winner and arguably the greatest player of the 20th century, has died aged 82.

In November Pelé entered the Albert Einstein hospital in São Paulo for cancer treatment.

Medical reports state the soccer star died at 3:27am local time due to organ failure caused by colon cancer.

The death of the only man to win the World Cup three times as a player was confirmed by his daughter Kely Nascimento on Instagram.

Pelé's official Instagram account also posted about his death.

"On his journey, Edson enchanted the world with his genius in sport, stopped a war, carried out social works all over the world and spread what he most believed to be the cure for all our problems: love," it said. 

"His message today becomes a legacy for future generations."




A post shared by Pelé (@pele)


From coastal club to 'Athlete of the Century'
Pelé, whose given name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, joined Santos in 1956 and turned the small coastal club into one of the most famous names in football. 

In addition to a host of regional and national titles, he won two Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League, and two Intercontinental Cups, the annual tournament held between the best teams in Europe and South America.

He took home three World Cup winner's medals, the first time as a 17-year-old in Sweden in 1958, the second in Chile four years later — even though he missed most of the tournament through injury — and the third in Mexico in 1970, when he led what is considered to be one of the greatest sides ever to play the game.

He retired from Santos in 1974 but a year later made a surprise comeback by signing a lucrative deal to join the New York Cosmos in the then-nascent North American Soccer League.

In a glorious 21-year career he scored some 1,283 goals.

Pelé, though, transcended soccer, like no player before or since, and he became one of the first global icons of the 20th century.

With his winning smile and an aw-shucks humility that charmed legions of fans, he was better known than many Hollywood stars, popes or presidents — many if not most of whom he met during a six-decade-long career as player and corporate pitchman.

He credited his one-of-a-kind mix of talent, creative genius and technical skill to a youth spent playing pick-up games in small-town Brazil, often using grapefruit or wadded-up rags because his family could not afford a real ball.

Pele was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee, co-Football Player of the Century by world soccer body FIFA, and a national treasure by Brazil's government.


Pelé celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Italy in the 1970 World Cup final at the Azteca.(Reuters: Action Images / Sporting Pictures)

Overwhelmed by fame
His celebrity was often overwhelming. Grown adults broke down crying in his presence with regularity.

As a player, souvenir-seeking fans often rushed the field following games and tore off his shorts, socks and even underwear.

His house in Brazil was less than a mile from a beach, but he didn't go there for some two decades because of fear of crowds.

Yet even in unguarded moments among friends, he rarely complained.

He believed that his talent was a divine gift, and he spoke movingly about how soccer allowed him to travel the world, bring cheer to cancer patients and survivors of wars and famine, and provide for a family that, growing up, often did not know the source of their next meal.


Pelé greets supporters before Real Madrid's First Division soccer match against Real Zaragoza in 2005.(Reuters)


Story first published on ABC News

Link to original story

ABC News