Brazilian soccer legend Pelé, who won three World Cups and became internationally known as soccer’s global ambassador, has died at the age of 82.
“Everything that we are, is thanks to you,” his daughter Kely Nascimento said in an Instagram post. “We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
Pelé was hospitalized in São Paulo in November for a respiratory infection and compilations from colon cancer. The hospital said last week that the soccer legend’s condition was deteriorating, CNN reported.
Pelé was soccer’s most famous star for over six decades, playing in four World Cups and going on to win three, a record that still stands.
“I was born to play football, just like Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint,” Pelé once said.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on October 23, 1940 in Tres Coracoes, Brazil, he was named after the inventor Thomas Edison. His first experience with soccer was playing barefoot with socks and rags rolled into a ball.
With millions of fans, Pele's name became instantly recognized by even those who had no interest in or knowledge of soccer.
The all-time great Hungarian player and manager Ferenc Puskas described him as more than simply a soccer player.
"Pele was above that," he said.
Nelson Mandela was also a huge fan.
"To watch him play was to watch the delight of a child combined with the extraordinary grace of a man," Mandela said.