After a long battle with illness, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele, died on Thursday at the age of 82, leaving behind an incredible career with hundreds of goals and three World Cups, the first at age 17.
A part of the history of soccer is gone. And not the least. Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele, passed away at the age of 82 on Thursday, December 29. The Brazilian legend was one of the last sacred monsters of world soccer, after the deaths of Diego Maradona, in December 2020, or Johan Cruyff, in 2016. He leaves behind an extraordinary record of achievements and one of the greatest careers in the history of sport.
Pele was born on November 23, 1940 in a modest home in the town of Tres Coraçoes, in the state of Minas Gerais, in central Brazil. His interest in soccer soon led him to the green rectangle. At the age of 13, he joined the Bauru SP club in the southeast of the country. Three years later, Pele moved to Sao Paulo to play for Santos. A club with which he will make history and play there (almost) all his career.
In 1957, the center forward was immediately called up to the national team to represent Brazil. From his first cap, against the eternal rival Argentina, Pele made the nets tremble. The beginning of a long series. One year later, in 1958, he won the World Cup in Sweden, the first in Brazilian history, and signed his birth certificate. A goal against Wales in the quarter-finals, a hat-trick against Just Fontaine’s France in the next round and a double against Sweden in the final allowed him to take pride of place in the world of soccer at the age of 17. During this competition, he became the youngest scorer in the history of the competition. A record that is still active, even if the Spaniard Gavi came close during the 2022 World Cup.
Four years later, during the World Cup organized in Chile, Pele will not know the same success. Brazil, however, did. Scorer in the first game against Mexico, he will not take part in any of the last four games, including the final against Czechoslovakia, the fault of a muscle injury contracted during the second outing of the Brazilians. However, the Seleção retained their title and Pele added a second World Cup to his list of achievements.
It will be necessary to wait eight years to see Brazil at the top again, during the World Cup 1970, organized in Mexico. Pele, then 29 years old, went on to win his third world title. In the final against Italy, the Brazilian nugget scored a goal and provided two assists (4-1), allowing him to become the only footballer in history to register his name three times on the list of the most coveted competition. With 77 goals in the yellow and blue jersey, Pele was for a long time the best scorer in the history of the Brazilian national team.
An influence on Neymar and Mbappé
Despite his retreat from sports, Pele has always followed closely his lifelong club, Santos, and the Brazilian national team, especially the young nuggets. Among them, Neymar Jr. Since 2011, the current number 10 of Paris Saint-Germain, trained in Santos, like Pele, is considered the future star of Brazil and follows in the footsteps of his distant predecessor. “If I could, I would pay to keep him” in Santos, even indicated in 2013 the “King” Pele, a few days before the transfer of Neymar to Barça. The king of soccer has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten”, the beautiful message of Mbappé.
“Everything we are is thanks to you”: the tribute of Pele’s daughter to her father
A few minutes after the official announcement of the death of King Pele, his daughter, Kely Nascimento, published on her Instagram account a touching publication in tribute to her father. It shows the hands of the relatives of the Brazilian accompanied by a message: “Everything we are is because of you. We love you so much. Rest in peace.”
Neymar: “Pele changed everything”
Neymar on Instagram: “Before Pele, the 10 was just a number. I read this sentence somewhere, at some point in my life. But this beautiful sentence is incomplete.
I would say that before Pele, soccer was just a sport. Pele changed everything. He transformed soccer into art, into entertainment. He gave a voice to the poor, to the blacks and above all: he gave visibility to Brazil. Soccer and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King!
He is gone, but his magic will remain. Pele is ETERNAL!”
Christiano Ronaldo: “A reference of yesterday, today, always”
“My deepest condolences to all of Brazil, and especially to the family of Mr. Edson Arantes do Nascimento. A simple ‘goodbye’ to the eternal King Pele will never be enough to express the pain that is gripping the entire soccer world at this moment. An inspiration for so many millions of people, a reference of yesterday, today and always. The affection he always showed me was mutual in all the moments we shared, even from a distance. He will never be forgotten and his memory will remain forever engraved in the memory of all of us, soccer lovers. Rest in peace, King Pele.”
“Rest in peace, Pele,” simply reacted the Argentine on Instagram. To accompany this message, three photos: two shots of their moment together in 2012, when the Brazilian had given the Argentine his fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or, the one that already made him then the absolute record holder of the award, and another photo, mythical this one, of Pele celebrating in the arms of Jairzinho during the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.