While the debate on the greatest of all time (GOAT) football player is still on, the one many consider peerless in that argument, Pele, born Edson Arantes de Nascimento, has died.
The only three-time World Cup winner and a scorer of over 1000 goals for clubs and country died on Thursday at the Albert Einstein Jewish Hospital, Sao Paulo, after battling colon cancer.
He was 82.
Before finally passing on Thursday, Pele had been in and out of the hospital in the past months. He had been suffering from kidney and prostate problems in recent years.
Pele had surgery to remove a tumour from his colon in September 2021 after the tumour was detected in routine tests. He was readmitted to the hospital in late November 2022 where he passed on.
While Pele is well celebrated for his prowess and achievements for the Brazil national team, he also had a fulfilled club career even though he did not get to play in Europe.
At the club level, his 18-year spell with the Brazilian side Santos is littered with records and silverware
Pele won six Brazilian titles and two Copa Libertadores crowns with Santos
He then spent his final two years as a player in the blossoming NASL with the New York Cosmos, and in the bulk of his years after retirement, he worked as an ambassador around the world.
Before Pele’s death on Thursday, his daughter Kely Nascimento kept fans updated on her father’s condition with regular social media updates from the hospital.
After his death on Thursday, she posted a picture of what appeared to be Pele’s family’s hands on his body in the hospital and wrote: “Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
Pele’s verified Twitter account later posted: “Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pele, who peacefully passed away today. Love, love, and love, forever.”
The Brazilian Football Confederation said: “Pele was much more than the greatest sportsperson of all time.
“Our king of football was the greatest exponent of a victorious Brazil, who was never afraid when faced with difficulty. He promised his father a World Cup and he presented us with three.
“The King gave us a new Brazil and we are so thankful for his legacy. Thank you, Pele.”