Brazilian footballing legend Pelé has passed away at the age of 82 on Thursday, his agent confirmed to the Associated Press.
Pelé is one of the world’s most famous athletes of all-time and an iconic Brazilian soccer player, defining the “beautiful game” during his illustrious career that included three World Cup titles.
Pelé was born on Oct. 23, 1940 in Três Corações in Brazil.
Pelé helped Brazil win the country's first three World Cups in 1958, 1962, 1970 and is the only player in history to win the World Cup on three separate occasions. Until Kylian Mbappe scored in the 2018 World Cup final against Croatia, Pelé was the only teenager in history to score in a World Cup final. He was also the record holder for most goals by a player in the men’s World Cup before 24, which Mbappe also recently surpassed.
During the 1958 World Cup, he scored six goals to become the joint second-leading goalscorer at the age of 17. This included two goals in the final against Sweden.
In 1962, Pelé didn’t play as large of a role for Brazil. He scored and assisted in the opening match against Mexico, but he sustained an injury in the second match. He missed the rest of the tournament.
In his third and final World Cup win, Pelé scored four goals, including the opening goal in the final.
Pelé made his club debut for Brazilian side Santos at the age of 15 in 1956. He played there for 18 years and scored 643 goals in 659 appearances across all competitions. He then moved to the United States in 1975 to play for the New York Cosmos until 1977. Pelé scored 66 goals in 107 during his time in the states.
Upon his retirement in 1977, Pelé remained in the public eye and was still involved in the game. His on-field success has lasted and echoed around the world since his playing days came to a finish. Pelé and the late Diego Maradona were named joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century award in 2000. Pelé was also award the first Balloon D’or Prix d’Honneur for his services to football. He was ineligible to win the award during his playing days due to France Football’s rule of only awarding to the Ballon D’or to European players.
Pelé was appointed a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 1994 and was appointed to the Extraordinary Minister for Sport by Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Pelé is also credited with proposing laws to address corruption in Brazilian soccer, later known as the Pelé law.
Health issues have arisen for Pelé in recent years. It was reported that Pelé was unable to walk in February 2020 due to a hip operation he underwent in 2012. Towards the end of this past November, news broke that Pelé had been taken to a hospital in Brazil.