Soccer Icon Pelé Passes Away At 82 | Put Brazil On The World’s Radar

Image Credit: Mauro Horita / Getty

Pelé, soccer’s gentle king that became the moral and athletic standard bearer to the world’s most beloved game, passed away at the age of 82. News of his death hit the world on Thursday after he succumbed to his long colon cancer bout. Pele was hospitalized for the past month at Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo; the legend was undergoing treatment for many ailments but died at 3:27 p.m.

The hospital stated that Pelé died “due to multiple organ failures resulting from the progression of colon cancer associated with his previous medical condition.”

Plans for a funeral were made for Monday and Tuesday, and his casket will be carried through the streets of Santos, Brazil, Pele’s hometown, before burial. Vila Belmiro Stadium will host the celebration of his life and is a venue where he played some of his historic games.

Brazil’s Icon

Outgoing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced the country is mourning for three days. The city of Santos also declared a seven-day mourning period. He made a statement on social media about the impact the icon had on the country of Brazil.

“With regret the passing of a man, who through football, took the name of Brazil to the world. Turned football into art and joy,” Bolsonaro wrote in Portuguese, accompanying a picture of Pelé holding a signed jersey. “May God comfort his family and may he find him in his infinite mercy.”

The Brazilian governor’s office also released a statement.

“Pelé, the King of Football, was one of the greatest athletes of all tiime,” said a statement from the governor’s office. “The only three-time world champion demonstrated by his actions that, in addition to being a great athlete, he was also a great citizen and patriot, raising the name of Brazil wherever he went.

“Though born in Minas Gerais, he will always be linked to Sāo Paulo. He began his career in Bauru, where he was crowned champion of youth leagues, then followed it by winning every possible title at state, national, and world level for Santos, the club for which he turned professional at age 15.”

The Legend Of Pelé

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pelé, is considered the greatest soccer player ever and a national treasure for Brazil and South American sports.

The 81-year-old FIFA “Player Of The Century” is also the only man to win the World Cup three times after leading Brazil to their first title in 1958.

He is also Brazil’s all-time leading international scorer with 77 goals. Pele scored more than 1,000 in his playing career before retiring from the game in 1977.

Pele was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1993, and his name transcends the sport globally.

To this day, breaking Pele’s records is the quest of current players.

“I had the privilege that other Brazilians didn’t have: I saw Pelé play live at Pacaembu and Morumbi,” President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva tweeted. “Play, no. I saw Pelé give a show. Because when he got the ball he always did something special, which often ended up in a goal.” The President-elect will be inaugurated on Sunday.

There will never be another athlete who catapulted a nation onto the world stage like Pelé through sports. He set a standard of excellence that the game will be measured by forever.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.