Pele, the legendary Brazilian football player who rose from barefoot poverty to become one of the greatest and best-known athletes in modern history, has died at the age of 82.
Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein hospital, where Pele was undergoing treatment, said he died at 3:27pm (18:27 GMT) on Thursday “due to multiple organ failures resulting from the progression of colon cancer associated with his previous medical condition.”
The death of the only man to win the World Cup three times as a player was confirmed on his Instagram account.
“Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pele, who peacefully passed away today,” the post read.
Pele, whose real name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was remembered for his wide-ranging accomplishments, both on and off the football field.
The memorial post on Pele’s social media page highlighted the star’s international appeal, referencing an incident during the Nigerian civil war when opposing factions agreed to a ceasefire in order to enjoy a match Pele played in the country.
“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. His message today becomes a legacy for future generations,” it read.
A public funeral is set to be held outside Sao Paulo, Brazil, at the Vila Belmiro Stadium, where he played for many years with the Santos football club. The casket is set to pass in front of the house of his 100-year-old mother, Celeste Arantes, before being placed in the center of the field.
‘We love you infinitely’
Tributes poured in from around the world for the late football legend, including one from his daughter, documentary filmmaker Kely Nascimento. She posted a photograph to her Instagram showing family members holding his hand as he rested in a hospital bed.
“Everything we are is thanks to you,” Nascimento wrote. “We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
Medical reports indicated that Pele passed away due to multiple organ failure, as a result of his battle with colon cancer. He had been hospitalised with multiple ailments, including a respiratory infection, and was also suffering from heart and kidney problems.
Pele had a tumour removed from his colon in September 2021. He was admitted to the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo on November 29.
Doctors there said his colon cancer was showing “progression” and he needed “more extensive care to treat kidney and heart failure”.
Pele, seen by many as the most talented footballer to ever play the game, led Brazil to a trio of World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He remains Brazil’s leading goal scorer, with 77 goals in 92 games.
Following Argentina’s World Cup win on December 18 in Qatar, Pele posted a picture on social media of their team lifting the trophy and hailed performances from captain Lionel Messi, France’s rising star Kylian Mbappe and surprise semifinalists Morocco.
“Today, football continues to tell its story, as always, in an enthralling way,” he said. “What a gift it was to watch this spectacle of the future of our sport.”
Brazil players and fans in Qatar also unfurled banners on and off the pitch with an image of the football great and wishes for his recovery.