Pelé, The Brazilian Soccer Star Who Revolutionized The Sport, Dies At 82
Photo Credit: Nelson Almeida

Photo Credit: Nelson Almeida

Pelé, The Brazilian Soccer Star Who Revolutionized The Sport, Dies At 82

Brazil , news
Spencer Jones
Spencer Jones Dec 29, 2022

The soccer world has lost one of its greats today, with the death of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, commonly known as Pelé.

One Brazilian aptly described him as “our Muhammad Ali.” There’s little doubt that Pelé’s home country will enter a state of deep mourning for their champion.

According to CNN Sports, “for more than 60 years, the name Pelé has been synonymous with soccer. He played in four World Cups and is the only player in history to win three, but his legacy stretched far beyond his trophy haul and remarkable goal-scoring record.”

When news of Pelé’s death broke, Cristiano Ronaldo made a tribute post, while French player Kylian Mbappé (who won the Golden Boot in the last World Cup) said, “the king of football has left us, but his legacy will never be forgotten.”

Perhaps the most touching tribute came from Pelé’s daughter, Kely Nascimento.

“Everything that we are, is thanks to you,” she wrote on Instagram. “We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”

There Were Health Concerns In November

Pelé’s health took a turn for the worst in November, according to reports.

CNN Sports reports, “he was admitted to a hospital in São Paulo in late November for a respiratory infection and for complications related to colon cancer.”

The cancer brought about “multiple organ failures,” ultimately causing his death.

Pelé Adored Soccer

Just as Ali rarely missed an opportunity to talk about how much he loved boxing, Pelé loved soccer.

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

Pelé was inspired to take up the sport in part due to the influence of his father, who also played.

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

The Origins Of His Nickname Are In Dispute

The exact origins of his nickname aren’t known.

However, CNN Sports explains, “it likely started with school classmates teasing him for mangling the nickname of another player, Bilé. Whatever the origin, the moniker stuck.”

The World First Got A Taste Of His Skill In 1958

Pelé exposed his talents to the world when he was very young; making his debut on the World Cup stage in 1958.

CNN Sports writes, “he scored Brazil’s only goal in the country’s quarterfinal victory against Wales, then netted a hat-trick in the semifinal against France and two in the final against host Sweden.”

He retired in 1977.

He Was A Humanitarian

Pelé dedicated time to numerous causes outside of his sport.

CNN Travel explains, “he remained in the public eye through endorsement deals and as an outspoken political voice who championed the poor in Brazil. He served as a Goodwill UNICEF ambassador for many years, promoting peace and support for vulnerable children.”

He also spoke openly about racism in soccer in an interview with CNN Brasil.

While playing in Argentina and several European countries, he and other players were called “apes and chimpanzees.”

Related: Ackee Pousada: The Black-Owned Hostel Bringing Afro-Brazilian Hospitality Experience In São Paulo, Brazil

 

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