The legend, the first global superstar, is no more.
The original football icon and magician for his superb footwork, high speed and near-accurate skills – Pele – is no more. He was 82.
Not long ago, Sir Robert Charlton, an acclaimed English former footballer, also called Bobby Charlton, had said that football might have been “invented for him (Pele)”.
Pele – named Edson Arantes initially do Nascimento – began playing for Santos at the age of 15 and the Brazilian national team a year later, bursting onto the world football scene as a 17-year-old in the 1958 World Cup.
In their homage to the maestro, the Football Association of Wales said Pele broke their hearts when he brought down the team’s hopes of a World Cup victory in 1958, and “Today our hearts are broken again”.
After his death, a post on Pelé’s official Instagram account said the icon “enchanted the world”.
During his international career, he won three World Cups – 1958, 1962 and 1970 – the only player to achieve this unique milestone. Media reports said he died due to multiple organ failure resulting from colon cancer.
His electrifying speed and deadly accuracy in front of the goal made him a legend. Pelé’s role in Brazil’s third victory over Mexico in 1970 has gone down in football folklore, as he played a crucial role in arguably the sport’s greatest-ever international team.
His glittering 20-year career from 1957 to 1977 saw him score 757 goals in 831 games, although Santos claims his tally was much more. Some say he scored a world record of 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.
A fine gentleman Pele was; after Maradona died in 2020, he famously said, “I have lost a dear friend…. One day, we will play Soccer together in the sky”.
In terms of Pele’s legendary performance, it is said that goal that shook the footballing consciousness of the world was when 17-year-old Pele took a long pass on his thigh and then hooked it over his head and took a swift turn to send the ball past Sweden’s goalkeeper in his inaugural world cup. That shows — beginning knows its end or its never-ending saga.
In a statement, Pele’s family said, “inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pele”.
Cristiano Ronaldo shared his condolences to Brazil and Pele’s family, saying he inspired millions. Harry Kane said he was a “true inspiration”. English football legend Sir Geoff Hurst said Pele “remained the greatest” player of all time and was “proud to be on the pitch with him”. Uefa joined fans across the world in mourning the football legend. The governing body said Pele was the “first global superstar”.