Pele, the Brazilian king of football who won a record three World Cups and became one of the most commanding sports figures of the past century, died Thursday. He was 82.
The standard-bearer of “the beautiful game” had undergone treatment for colon cancer since 2021. He had been hospitalised for the past month with multiple ailments. Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein hospital, where Pele was undergoing treatment, said he died at 3:27 p.m. “due to multiple organ failures resulting from the progression of colon cancer associated with his previous medical condition.”
A funeral is planned for Monday and Tuesday, with his casket to be carried through the streets of Santos, the coastal city where his storied career began, before burial.
“All that we are is thanks to you,” his daughter Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram. “We love you endlessly. Rest in peace.”
His agent, Joe Fraga, confirmed his death: “The king has passed.”
Later on Thursday, it was announced that Pele’s funeral would be held on Monday and Tuesday at Santos’ Vila Belmiro Stadium outside Sao Paulo, where the soccer legend played some of his best games.
Outgoing Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro declared three days of mourning, and said in a statement that Pele was “a great citizen and patriot, raising the name of Brazil wherever he went.”
Widely regarded as one of football’s greatest players, Pele spent nearly two decades enchanting fans and dazzling opponents as the game’s most prolific scorer with Brazilian club Santos and the Brazil national team.
His grace, athleticism and mesmerizing moves transfixed players and fans. He orchestrated a fast, fluid style that revolutionised the sport — a samba-like flair that personified his country’s elegance on the field.