RIP Edson Arantes do Nascimento – The Legend Known as Pele

Edson Arantes do Nascimento (born 23 October 1940), known more famously as Pelé , has passed away at the age of 82. The former Brazilian professional footballer who played as a forward and regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and labelled “the greatest” by FIFA, was among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century. In 1999, he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. In 2000, Pelé was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century. His 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, which includes friendlies, is recognised as a Guinness World Record.

Pelé began playing for Santos at age 15 and the Brazil national team at 16. During his international career, he won three FIFA World Cups: 1958, 1962 and 1970, the only player to do so. He was nicknamed O Rei (The King) following the 1958 tournament. Pelé is the joint-top goalscorer for Brazil with 77 goals in 92 games. At the club level, he was Santos’ all-time top goalscorer with 643 goals in 659 games. In a  golden era for Santos, he led the club to the 1962 and 1963 Copa Libertadores, and to the  1962  and 1963 Intercontinental Cup. Credited with connecting the phrase “The Beautiful Game” with football, Pelé’s “electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals” made him a star around the world, and his teams toured internationally to take full advantage of his popularity. During his playing days, Pelé was for a period the best-paid athlete in the world. After retiring in 1977, Pelé was a worldwide ambassador for football and made many acting and commercial ventures. In 2010, he was named the honorary president of the New York Cosmos.

In Brazil, he was hailed as a national hero for his accomplishments in football and for his outspoken support of policies that improve the social conditions of the poor. His emergence at the 1958 World Cup, where he became the first black global sporting star, was a source of inspiration. Pelé married three times, and had several affairs, producing several children. At the age of 73, Pelé announced his intention to marry 41-year-old Marcia Aoki, a Japanese-Brazilian importer of medical equipment from Penápolis, São Paulo, whom he had been dating since 2010. They first met in the mid-1980s in New York, before meeting again in 2008 and marrying in 2016. His Instagram account confirmed his death at the hospital from  multiple organ failure, a complication of colon cancer, on 29 December 2022.

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