Dec 29, 2022 - Sports

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé dies at 82

Legendary Brazilian footballer Pele during a first day of Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.

Pele during a first day of Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. Photo: Satish Bate/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé passed away on Thursday after a battle with colon cancer, AP reports. He was 82.

The big picture: Pelé is considered to be the greatest soccer player of all time. He won three FIFA World Cups in his international career (the most of any single player) and helped catapult soccer in the United States with a brief stint at the New York Cosmos club in 1975.

Details: Pelé was admitted into the hospital earlier this month for a reevaluation of his cancer treatment, Reuters reports. He was diagnosed with a respiratory infection at the time.

  • His chemotherapy treatment was not showing positive results, so it was suspended and he was placed under palliative care for symptoms of pain or shortness of breath, per Reuters.
  • As concerns over his health grew, Pelé thanked fans for their support in an Instagram post, saying he appreciated the "good vibes" from those wishing him well.

What they're saying: "Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today," his official Twitter account said Thursday. "Love, love and love, forever."

Flashback: Pelé’s battle with colon cancer has been ongoing for years. He had a tumor removed from his colon in September 2021, CNN reports. Two months later, he was hospitalized and went under chemotherapy treatment.

  • The soccer legend suffered from a hip injury in recent years, too, which made it difficult for him to walk without help, per ESPN.

Zoom out: Pelé — real name Edson Arantes do Nascimentojumped into the world soccer scene when he was 16 years old, becoming a star for the Brazilian club Santos and his country's national team.

  • Pelé was a rockstar here in the U.S. as well. When he played for the New York Cosmos of the '70s North American Soccer League, he would receive tables at Studio 54 and hang out with New York City's elite, Axios previously reported.

Worth noting: One of the most notable stories surrounding Pelé is that his family couldn't afford a soccer ball so he stuffed his socks and used them to play. The story has passed on through generations and likely will even though Pelé is gone.

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