Pele, who had a tumour removed from his colon last year, passed away in a Sao Paolo hospital, his agent said.
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.
The public will be able to pay their respects there on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
‘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.
PELE described by his peers
Pele has been praised over the decades by everyone from world leaders to artists. Here are superlatives from over the years about Pele, who died Thursday in Brazil at age 82:
“To watch him play was to watch the delight of a child combined with the extraordinary grace of a man in full.” Nelson Mandela.
“I told myself before the game, he’s made of skin and bones just like everyone else but I was wrong.” Italy’s Tarcisio Burgnich, after playing against Pele in the 1970 World Cup Final.
“Pelé was one of the few who contradicted my theory: Instead of 15 minutes of fame, he will have 15 centuries.” Andy Warhol.
“I sometimes feel as though football was invented for this magical player.” Sir Bobby Charlton, retired England great who won 1966 World Cup and Ballon d’Or in same year.
“Pelé was the only footballer who surpassed the boundaries of logic.” Johan Cruyff, the late Dutch star and standout manager who won the Ballon d’Or three times.
“He is the most complete player I ever saw.” Retired German great Franz Beckenbauer.
“If you take the qualities of Cristiano Ronaldo and (Lionel) Messi, put them together, then you’d have a player to compare to Pelé!” Retired Brazil forward Tostao.
“The best player ever? Pelé. (Lionel) Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are both great players with specific qualities, but Pelé was better.” Alfredo Di Stefano, the late Argentine star for Real Madrid.
“His great secret was improvisation. Those things he did were in one moment. He had an extraordinary perception of the game.” Brazil defender Carlos Alberto Torres.
“This debate about the player of the century is absurd. There’s only one possible answer: Pelé. He’s the greatest player of all time, and by some distance, I might add.” Retired Brazil star Zico.
“The greatest player in history was Di Stefano. I refuse to classify Pelé as a player. He was above that.” Hungary star Ferenc Puskas.
“We went up together to head a ball. I was taller, had a better impulse. When I came back down, I looked up in astonishment. Pelé was still there, in the air, heading that ball. It was like he could stay suspended for as long as he wanted to.” Italy defender Giacinto Facchetti.
“When I saw Pelé play, it made me feel I should hang up my boots.” Just Fontaine, the Morocco-born French star who scored 13 goals in six games in the 1958 World Cup.
“The moment the ball arrived at Pelé’s feet, football transformed into poetry.” Italian poet Pier Paolo Pasolini.
“The difficulty, the extraordinary, is not to score 1,000 goals like Pelé it’s to score one goal like Pelé.” Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Brazilian poet.
“Pelé was the most complete player I’ve ever seen. Two good feet. Magic in the air. Quick. Powerful. Could beat people with skill. Could outrun people. Only 5-feet-8 inches tall, yet he seemed a giant of an athlete on the pitch. Perfect balance and impossible vision.” Bobby Moore, captain of the 1966 World Cup champion team from England.
“I arrived hoping to stop a great man, but I went away convinced I had been undone by someone who was not born on the same planet as the rest of us.” Benfica goalkeeper Costa Pereira after 5-2 loss to Santos.
“There’s Pelé the man, and then Pelé the player. And to play like Pelé is to play like God.” Retired France star and three-time Ballon d’Or winner Michel Platini.
“Pelé is the greatest player in football history, and there will only be one Pelé in the world.” Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal star forward.
Sources: Goal.com, FIFA.com, Aljazeera