Pelé, one of the most recognizable athletes in history, died on Thursday. The three-time World Cup winner is a legend of more than just soccer. He was 82.
For some time, Pelé’s health deteriorated. Most recently, he had issues regarding colon cancer. He spent Christmas in a hospital in Brazil surrounded by his loved ones. His official Twitter account played a part in announcing the legend’s passing on Thursday.
Always a beacon of happiness, Pelé embodied the enjoyment of the game. He spent the vast majority of his career at Santos. He spent 18 seasons with Santos before concluding his playing days with the New York Cosmos. In many ways, he brought unseen attention to American soccer. Home games involving Pelé averaged attendance figures just shy of 45,000, topping out at over 70,000. Prior to his arrival, New York Cosmos had a highest attendance of just over 8,000.
However, it is Pelé’s international career that makes him stand out among the greats of the game. The Brazilian appeared in four World Cups. Remarkably, he won three. To be fair, he only played two games in the 1962 World Cup that Brazil won. Regardless, he remains the only player to win three World Cups.
Part of Pelé’s acclaim is that he won the 1958 World Cup as a 17-year-old. His first of two goals in the Final against Sweden is one of the most famous goals in history, as he dinked it over the defender before volleying home for Brazil’s third.
Present and former players send love to Pelé after death
Erling Haaland, Peter Schmeichel, Kylian Mbappé and more stated how the game as it is played now comes as a result of Pelé’s actions as a trailblazer. As stated, much of Pelé’s persona revolved around love and enjoyment of the game. That is the message he left in his legacy.
The death of Pelé is one of the great losses in the soccer world’s community. His reach goes far beyond just tournaments, leagues, games or goals. He was, and will continue to be, the king of the beautiful game.
PHOTO: IMAGO / PA Images
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