THE GREATEST SOCCER PLAYER OF ALL TIME, PELE, DIES AT 82: Legendary Brazilian footballer passes away after battle with colon cancer which left him hospitalised for a month to leave the beautiful game




Brazil legend Pele – widely considered as one of the greatest players of all time – has passed away at the age of 82  



Pele, the Brazilian who has long been considered the greatest footballer of all time, has died at the age of 82.

The legendary figure, a man who transcended his sport and was a global icon, learned that his colon cancer had advanced on December 21 and was told he would be kept in hospital over Christmas – with the iconic forward needing treatment for cardiac and renal dysfunction.

Previously he had been admitted to the hospital on November 30 with swelling all over his body and ‘decompensated heart failure’ before passing away a month on after receiving palliative care.

Pele’s daughter Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram: ‘We are thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.’

Nascimento, who had posted before Christmas that members of Pele’s family would spend the holiday period in the hospital with him, added three heartbroken emojis.

Son Edson Nascimento, who followed in his father’s footsteps with a career in football, posted a photo of Pele from behind running onto a football field, with the message: ‘Go with God, my father’.

Grandson Arthur Spies wrote that it was ‘the most painful day of life’, adding: ‘But now all that’s left are the good moment, what Pele did for Brazil and for the world, the people that he helped and the victories he had in his career and life.

‘Grandpa Dico you are my idol and always will be, no matter where you are, on Earth or in heaven… I know that wherever you are you will always be supporting and blessing me in everything in my life and will always be together with me.

‘I have a clear conscience that you will go to heaven with an image of me as a grandson who was very present and who always loved you very muh and that I always wanted to be together with you.

‘I love you very much regardless of where you are, I will always take you with me in my life, in good times and bad times, because I know that if you were here you would support me, I love you grandpa.’

The Brazilian Football Federation posted a picture of Pele celebrating a goal, saying ‘RIP Pele’ and adding three crown emojis.

Sir Geoff Hurst, the former England striker, also paid tribute, tweeting: ‘I have so many memories of Pele, without doubt the best footballer I ever played against (with Bobby Moore being the best footballer I ever played alongside).

‘For me Pele remains the greatest of all time and I was proud to be on the pitch with him. RIP Pele and thank you.’

No details have been made public yet about the funeral, but a vigil will be held at Vila Belmiro in Santos, the city where the great will be buried.

He will be buried on the ninth floor of the world’s tallest cemetary –  the Necrepole Ecumentica Memorial in Santos.

Pele chose the floor as homage to his father, who used to wear the No 9 when he played football.

Pele explained: ‘I chose [the Necrepole Ecumentica Memorial] because of its organisation and structure. It’s a place that transmits spiritual peace and tranquility, where a person doesn’t feel depressed, in fact it doesn’t even look like a cemetery.’

Pele, who had been undergoing treatment for metastatic cancer, went into the Albert Einstein hospital in what was an unscheduled visit after being taken by his wife Marcia Aoki and a carer.

Medical staff at the Einstein confirmed his condition of anasarca (general swelling), an edemigemic syndrome (general edema) and even identified ‘decompensated heart failure’.

It had also been reported that his chemotherapy treatment on his cancer was no longer working, while he was diagnosed with mental confusion upon entering the hospital, where he was restless.

According to reports, the former footballer was reportedly struggling to eat. Medics looked at the likelihood of him having a hepatic encephalopathy – a nervous system disorder brought on by severe liver disease.

His wife implied his hospital visit was only for his standard chemotherapy and check-ups and his daughter Kely Nascimento insisted there was no need need for alarm and that there was ‘no surprise or emergency’ involved with her father being in hospital.

On Christmas Eve, Pele’s daughter posted a moving photo of her father in a hospital bed as they cherish ‘another night together’ as he continued to battle the cancer.

‘We continue to be here, in fight and in faith. Another night together,’ his daughter Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo of Pele being hugged in bed. Pelé’s granddaughter Sophia could also be seen in the photo.

Somewhat fittingly, one of the last posts he made on social media was about football. ‘Hello from Brazil! I hope you’re all enjoying watching the games at the World Cup as much as I am,’ he said on November 29. ‘I love fútbol so deeply and I also love it for how it helps and empowers children through fun, teamwork, and creativity.

‘That’s the reason why I started Pelé Foundation and why I’m delighted to announce that we are establishing our first ever Three Hearts Awards, which will recognise a player, non profit organisation and an inspiration annually, who has had a significant contribution, commitment to philanthropy, and community impact that aids and empowers children through educational, anti-poverty or health efforts.

‘It’s my pleasure to announce this years honorees will be @grassrootsoccer for their leadership in adolescent health over the past 20 years, @cristiano for his excellence on and off the field highlighted by his endless commitment to children’s causes, and @globalempowermentmission for their inspirational work helping Ukrainian refugees.

‘As today is Giving Tuesday, join me in celebrating this year’s honorees for their amazing work using fútbol to change the world!’

He also congratulated Argentina and Lionel Messi on winning the World Cup in Qatar, writing: ‘Today, football continues to tell its story, as always, in an enthralling way. Messi winning his first World Cup, as his trajectory deserved. My dear friend, Mbappé, scoring four goals in a final. What a gift it was to watch this spectacle to the future of our sport. And I couldn’t fail to congratulate Morocco for the incredible campaign. It’s great to see Africa shine. Congratulations Argentina! Certainly Diego is smiling now.’

Pele’s had also posted on social media on his 82nd birthday on October 23. ‘On my birthday, I just want to express my gratitude. Life is good. Turning 82 with my family, in good health, is the best gift. Thank you for everything I have received.’

On August 29, Pele posted a picture of him alongside his wife on Instagram in response to suggestions his health was deteriorating and said: ‘I send this photo to you, just to say thank you. I am so grateful for my wife, for the laughs, for the peace of my home, and for all your loving messages.

‘I am doing very well and taking care of my health. I had to post this as there are fake news circulating on this subject. Of course I am disappointed, but that won’t let me down. I’m winning this match. Thank you very much!’

He had been undergoing chemotherapy for a colon tumour that was removed last September, and returned to Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein Hospital on February 13. While in hospital he contracted a urinary infection and underwent an endoscopy, which left him weak and having difficulty eating and speaking.

Prior to his admission, Pele had been living at his home in Guaruja, outside Sao Paulo and posting updates on his health on social media.

On February 13, he said: ‘Friends, as I have been doing monthly, I am going to the hospital to continue my treatment.

‘I’ve already ordered a big TV and popcorn so I can watch the Super Bowl later. I will watch the match even though my friend @tombrady is not playing.

‘Thanks for all the loving messages.’

Pele had been recovering from surgery last year, and although he was readmitted to hospital on several occasions he took to Instagram to inform his fans that he was ‘continuing to smile every day’.

After finishing his last chemotherapy session of 2021, he had said, alongside a picture of him clenching his fist: ‘I wanted to share this achievement with you. After all, every little victory is a reason to celebrate, don’t you think?’

His condition had deteriorated in the months which followed and he was in and out of hospital before being admitted to Einstein on November 30.

Pele rose to superstardom by winning the 1958 World Cup, scoring six goals at the 1958 tournament when aged just 17. Two of those goals came in the final against the hosts, Sweden, including one of football’s most iconic strikes, a flick over a defender’s head and volleyed finish.

His incredible career is littered with remarkable achievements. Most notably he is the only player to have won three World Cups, having also triumphed with Brazil in 1962 and 1970. He was also one of the first black global sporting icons.

Born and raised in the favelas of Tres Coracoes in Minas Gerais, Edson Arantes do Nascimento – he would become known as Pele at school, apparently because of the way he mispronounced the name of his favourite footballer, Bile – grew up in poverty and taught himself how to play football by kicking around a sock stuffed with newspaper.

Yet he grew into a prodigious talent, starting his club career at Santos, in the state of Sao Paulo, aged just 15. He began playing for Brazil’s national team when he was 16, and went on to score 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, which is recognised as a Guinness World Record, although that figure includes friendly matches.

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He had made light of his health problems in an Instagram post following his surgery last September, saying that he had left intensive care, appearing in good spirits while smiling for the camera, and even joking he was now ready to play ’90 minutes and extra time!’

Pele’s public appearances were already being cut before the Covid-19 pandemic and he made few forays outside his house since. He had to use walkers and wheelchairs to move around during recent years, after a failed hip replacement in 2012.

He required surgery on his prostate in 2015, having been admitted to hospital twice in the space of six months.

In 2019, he was admitted again for a urinary infection – and in February 2020 his son Edinho said Pele was reluctant to leave the house because of hip issues.

‘He is very sheepish, reclusive,’ he said. ‘Imagine, he’s the King, he was always such an imposing figure and today he can’t walk properly.

‘He’s embarrassed, he doesn’t want to go out, be seen, or do practically anything that involves leaving the house.’

It is a far cry from Pele’s youth, when he changed football forever with his dazzling skill, lightning pace and deadly shooting.

He was named the joint winner, alongside Diego Maradona of Argentina, of FIFA’s Player of the Century award in 2000. In 1999 he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee.

He is also credited with coining the phrase ‘the beautiful game’, which has since become synonymous with football.


Source: Daily Mail Online, Chris Cutmore

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