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Pelé, ‘O Rei’ of football, dies

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, ‘O Rei’ Pelé, was everything in football and is considered to be the best player of all time. He died on Thursday 29 December aged 82.

Pelé, ‘O Rei’ of football, dies
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The ex-footballer Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known around the world simply as Pelé, has died today Thursday 29 December 2022 at 82 years of age. Pelé was everything to football and is considered by many to be the best player in the history of the sport. He was chosen as “Athlete of the Century” three times: by the International Olympic Committee, L’Équipe and by news agency Reuters; FIFA chose him as the Player of the Century. He is the only player to have won the World Cup three times - in 1958, 1962 and 1970 - was and the youngest player to have won it, at 17 years old, in Sweden, 1958.

A year ago, on 4 September 2021, Pelé had an operation for a colon tumour at the Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo. “The tumour was identified during examinations that I mentioned last week”, said the player, who was 80 years. Pelé had gone to hospital to have a routine check-up due to the COVID-19 pandemic; it was then that the problem was identified.

A decade fighting against health issues

The football legend fought for a decade against serious health and physical problems. A world ambassador for football, Pelé was always present at the main events of international sport. But the always-smiling figure was disappearing. It was as of November 2012, when hip surgery turned his life upside down. Since then he went under the knife multiple times and was sent to hospital on various occasions to be put under Intensive Care. Many times surgeons had doubts over his health status, as for years he was in a delicate situation.

The celebration of a legend

The figure of Pelé has been idolised over different generations and his incredible career has been celebrated in the years after his retirement. In 2014, the magazine France Football decided to make a historical correction and was awarded an honorary Ballon d’Or.

During the Brazilian’s playing career, the French magazine only gave awards to European players, in a rule that was maintained until 1995, when it was decided that all players in Europe, regardless of nationality, would be able to receive the award. Since 2007, the award, which is the most traditional of all the individual awards, has been a global prize.

The change in the award allowed France Football to revise their list of winning players with the same criteria currently used today and they gave Pelé seven honorary titles: 1958, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1965 and 1970.

The Santos idol was also responsible for the explosion of football in the US, when he moved to New York Cosmos in 1975. According to the numbers at AS, in a study carried out for his 80th birthday, Pelé scored 743 goals in 449 official games, as well as another 540n goals in 337 unofficial games. In total, he scored 1283 goals in 786 games, an average of 1.63 goals per game over a 20-year career.


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