International soccer icon Pelé—who led Brazil to three World Cups while becoming the global face of the sport—has passed away, reports CNN. He was 82.
According to a statement from Albert Einstein Hospital and his agent Joe Fraga, he officially passed from multiple organ failure due to a rapid progression of colon cancer.
In an Instagram post, Kely Nascimento, Pelé’s daughter, also confirmed her father’s passing.
“Everything that we are, is thanks to you,” she wrote in a post on Instagram in Portuguese, under an image of family members holding Pelé’s hands. “We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
The soccer legend had been hospitalized since November for a respiratory infection and other complications related to colon cancer.
Pelé will go down in history as one of the most heralded athletes of all time. His legendary feats in the game caused his name to be revered across the world even by casual observers of international "football."
“You cannot make another Michael Jordan, just like you cannot make another Pelé,” he once said, in an interview.
Pelé was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Coracoes, Brazil to the son of a part-time soccer player. He honed his skills by kicking around a grapefruit or sock filled with rags in the streets of his city.
He became a star player for his father’s team, Bauru, at age 14. He was paid a stipend of $75 a month with the top Brazilian soccer club Santos under coach Luiz Alonso Perez. In his debut with Santos, Pelé scored four goals and earned a $1,000 bonus.
Pelé went on to win three World Cup tournaments with Brazil and 10 league titles with Santos as arguably the greatest soccer player ever.
In 1974, at age 34, he retired from international soccer as the "undisputed king of his sport." He returned the next year and signed a three-year, $7 million deal with the Cosmos, “to make soccer truly popular in the United States.”
“Today, soccer has arrived in the United States,” he stated when he signed that contract with the Cosmos. “Spread the word.”
In 1977, he led the Cosmos to the North American Soccer League championship, forever endearing himself to the American public.
Throughout his 21-year career, Pelé scored an astounding 1,283 goals in 1,367 professional matches, including 77 goals for the Brazilian national team.
Along with Diego Maradona, Pelé was named FIFA’s Player of the Century award.
Tributes have poured in from across the globe in honor of the man who was known as "O Rei do Futebol," the king of his sport.
In a tweet, President Barack Obama shared his condolences to those who loved and admired the athletic artistry of Pelé.
"Pelé was one of the greatest to ever play the beautiful game," stated Obama's post. "And as one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, he understood the power of sports to bring people together. Our thoughts are with his family and everyone who loved and admired him."
We at EBONY extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Pelé