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Pelé, the 'King of Soccer', dies at the age of 82 in Brazil after a tough fight against colon cancer


Considered by FIFA as the best player of the 20th century, the Brazilian star was diagnosed with the disease in 2021 and underwent treatment, but had to spend this Christmas hospitalized after weakening due to kidney and heart failure.

Pelé, the greatest sports star in Brazil and one of the greatest in history, passed away this Thursday at the age of 82, after fighting a tough battle against colon cancer, a disease he was diagnosed with in 2021 and for which he underwent surgery and received chemotherapy treatment.

The death was confirmed by his agent, Joe Fraga.

The health of the

best soccer player of the 20th century, according to FIFA

, had deteriorated in recent weeks;

he spent Christmas hospitalized in Brazil after a medical report indicated that the cancer had progressed, causing kidney and heart dysfunction.

A soccer legend, the Brazilian elevated his country to the altars of soccer with his daring style of play and overwhelming winning mentality.

Not in vain, the


is the most successful team of all time, successes that were cemented thanks to the milestones of a Pelé without whom the essence of the game itself is not understood.

Because talking about football is talking about

O Rei

, as he was nicknamed.

And talking about Pelé will always mean talking about football.

Pelé celebrates the coronation of Brazil in the 1970 World Cup at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, after a victory over Italy.AP, file

Master of the dribble, practically ambidextrous, unstoppable in speed, with a prodigious physique and lethal head, Pelé was ahead of his time.

Unforgettable goals remain in the retina like the one in the Mexico-70 final against Italy, in which he rose after a Roberto Rivelino cross, seemed to float in the air for a few seconds and opened the scoring with his head in the 4-1 win. 1 against the powerful Italy. 

A national hero and world legend, the genius attacker led Brazil to glory thanks to a style that influenced other contemporary Brazilian soccer legends such as Romario, Ronaldo and Neymar.

His mark was so deep that the sport cannot be understood without him.  

A historical sports figure of the 20th century

Gone is a stratospheric legacy of a forward without equal: the only player to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970), the youngest world champion (17 years old), more than 1,200 goals scored and the record for many scored in the same game ( 8 of the 11 that Santos achieved against Botafogo in 1964), among other statistics.

[Pelé: fans hold vigil outside the hospital and send him messages for his speedy recovery]

Pelé was born on October 23, 1940 into a humble family in Três Corações, in the Brazilian state of Minais Gerais, a region where mining activity historically predominates.

His father, João Ramos do Nascimento,


, was the precursor of his career by standing out as a player for Fluminense and Atlético Mineiro, although with less luck since an injury took him away from the courts forever. 



, Brazil's well-known defeat against Uruguay 1-2 in 1950, was a turning point for both and marked the future of young Pelé.

“I saw my father crying.

I told him: 'I will win the World Cup for you, don't cry,' he recounted in an interview.

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By then Pelé, whom everyone called


, was already showing his talent with the ball.

He played in the lower ranks of Baquinho, the team his father was also a member of, and he soon made the leap to Santos de Sao Paulo, the squad where he spent most of his career, encouraged by coach Waldemar de Brito, another soccer legend. Brazilian who understood the exceptional qualities that Pelé had.

On the cusp at 17 years old

He had not yet turned 16 when he made his official debut for the first team in September 1956. Fearless of success and eager to shine, the beginning of his career was a shower of goals, victories and achievements, automatically becoming the new idol of the hobby

There was so much talk about him that the technical director Vicente Feloa did not take long to summon him to join the team with a view to the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

His debut in the competition was turbulent: he had not yet reached the age of majority, he was suffering from a knee injury and he was accused of taking the position from Luizinho, the Corinthians star.

But he scored six goals, outshone his teammates and revolutionized the tournament with the way he played, helping Brazil take home the trophy.

His name suddenly became a legend, although he still had his whole life ahead of him.

With Santos he conquered everything: Brasileirao (Brazilian league), Paulista Cup, Libertadores Cup, Intercontinental Cup and Intercontinental Champions Super Cup.

In total he scored 643 goals. 

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With Brazil, his story became a timeless legend.

He repeated the success of Sweden in Chile-1962, although an injury left him on the bench for a large part of the tournament, and in Mexico-1970 came his consecration by becoming the only player with three World Cups.

Since then he was

O Re

i (the king), a description that no one has been able to take away from him. 

Sensing the end of his career was near, Pelé opted in 1975 to play his last years at the New York Cosmos at a different pace.

Despite this, he won the North American Soccer League (NASL) -now called Major League Soccer (MLS)- the three seasons that his American adventure lasted and popularized soccer in a country where American football, baseball have always weighed more heavily and basketball.

Although he officially retired in 1977, he never parted ways with soccer, turning the sport into a diplomatic tool through which to improve the lives of millions of people.

His contribution was rewarded by being named a goodwill ambassador for the UN, UNESCO and UNICEF.

His political career reached the peak of his country's Sports Minister between 1994 and 1998, a period during which he promoted the well-known

Pelé Law,

which obliges clubs to comply with the country's commercial laws, in an attempt to end corruption. that surrounds Brazilian soccer.

Pelé also lived intensely off the pitch, with the occasional controversial episode fueled by the fame that followed him.

Married twice and father of eight children -two of them out of wedlock-, he had a well-known relationship with the popular presenter Xuxa, as well as with the beauty queens Miss Brazil 1986 and Miss Brazil 1989. One of his biggest disappointments was that his son Edinho, a former Santos goalkeeper, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for money laundering.

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Pelé's health has been a cause for concern in recent years.

He suffered spinal and knee problems, and suffered a urinary tract infection.

He also underwent several hip operations, whose rehabilitation he did not do correctly and ended up affecting his mobility to the point of having to use a wheelchair. 

In September 2021, he announced that he was fighting colon cancer with an optimistic message: “Happily, I am used to celebrating great victories with you.

So I am going to face one more match with a smile on my face, a lot of optimism and joy for living surrounded by the love of my family and friends”.

The light of the greatest star in world soccer ended up going out, as he did not overcome the disease.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2022-12-29

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