Supporters hold a minute of silence for soccer legend Pele before the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham United and Brentford at the London stadium in London , Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Soccer Legend Pelé Passes Away At 82

One of soccer’s first true icons, a legend who won three World Cups and helped to grow the game internationally, has sadly passed away.

Brazilian soccer star Pelé died yesterday at the age of 82 after suffering complications from colon cancer.

In late November, doctors admitted Pelé to São Paolo’s Albert Einstein Hospital for both a respiratory infection and complications from his preexisting colon cancer. The cancer continued spreading, drastically worsening his health. He died Thursday morning after his cancer caused multiple organ failures.

“All that we are is thanks to you,” said Kely Nascimento, his daughter. “We love you endlessly. Rest in peace.”

Many consider Pelé the first true soccer icon. His play shined with a fast-paced and fluid dribbling style studied by nearly every player in the modern game. Players like Lionel Messi and Neymar’s play-style stems from Pele’s.

The forward began his career at Brazilian club Santos in 1956. He would play at the club for nearly 20 years, ultimately leaving in 1975 for American club New York Cosmos. The star retired in 1977 with 767 goals in 831 competitive matches. This record places Pelé fifth all-time in goalscoring.

Pelé is also Brazil’s joint-leading goalscorer with 77 goals in 92 matches. Neymar only recently tied him this December.

Pelé began his Brazil career at the 1958’s World Cup, becoming the tournament’s youngest-ever player at 17. Brazil would win that World Cup, as well as the 1962 tournament. Pelé would win the tournament a third and final time in 1970, bookending his prestigious career as the only player with three World Cup wins.

Pele’s burial will be held next week in Santos. His casket will be carried through the town’s streets before the legend is finally laid to rest.

About Connor O'Bryan

Connor O'Bryan is a world soccer reporter for ESPN Gainesville. He also sometimes covers baseball and other sports. He has previously written for WUFT Gainesville and for Atrium Magazine. Connor also cohosts the "Off The Bar Podcast", a student driven podcast that focuses on the global soccer landscape.

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