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Soccer GOAT Pelé dies at 82

Soccer fans worldwide consider Pelé the greatest of all time
Soccer GOAT Pelé dies at 82
Soccer GOAT Pelé (Image source: YouTube/MSNBC)

Pelé, who is universally considered the greatest soccer player who has ever lived, has died. He was 82.

The death of the all-time great was confirmed by his daughter, Kely Nascimento, who posted a loving celebration of his life and legacy on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. 

“Everything that we are, is thanks to you,” Nascimento wrote about Pelé in both Spanish and English. He is survived by his six children and his wife, businesswoman Marcia Cibele Aoki.

Pelé was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on Oct. 23, 1940, in the small city of Três Corações. He became known worldwide as Pelé, a moniker he supposedly earned after mispronouncing a goalie’s name, Bilé, who played on his father’s team in Brazil. 

Pelé’s career numbers are astounding. He scored more than 1,000 goals in the course of his career, earning a Guinness World Record.

The three-time World Cup champion — who won the title alongside Brazil in 1958, 1962, and 1970 — had been fighting colon cancer since September 2021, when he had a tumor removed from his large intestine, according to MSNBC. 

“Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today,” his daughter wrote on her IG page. “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.”

Pelé retired from Santos in 1974 after scoring an awe-inspiring 643 goals in 659 games.

He was later persuaded to join the New York Cosmos after agreeing to a three-year $7 million deal to play for the U.S. team at age 34 — which made him the highest-paid player in the world at the time. His tenure there is credited with helping to increase the popularity of soccer in the United States.

Speaking to ESPN 40 years after Pelé’s last game, Shep Messing, a former Cosmos goalkeeper, stated, “In simple terms, Pelé made soccer cool.” Describing the icon’s moment in time, he continued, “Mick Jagger, Elton John, Robert Redford at the games. Muhammad Ali, he was there on the field for that final game, and at that time, the two most recognizable people on the planet were the two of them.”

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