Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known worldwide as Pelé, one of the best soccer players in history, has died at the age of 82 in a hospital in the Brazilian city of São Paulo surrounded by several of his children and grandchildren, who spent Christmas with him in the center where he was admitted since last November 29.
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“Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace,” said his daughter. Kely Nascimento on Instagram, accompanying a photograph with the intertwined hands of the children of the “king” of soccer, who today completed a month in hospital.
The legendary former Brazilian striker, who played almost his entire career at Santos FC and occupies an exclusive podium alongside the also deceased Diego Armando Maradona and Alfredo Di Stéfano, had been suffering from colon cancer since 2021 and in recent days had stopped responding to chemotherapy treatment.
Pelé had been hospitalized on November 29 at the Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo to evaluate a change in chemotherapy treatment, which was not having the effect desired by the doctors. Days later, the hospital reported that he was also being treated for a respiratory infection that, according to his daughters, he suffered as a result of a COVID-19 infection.
Despite his hospitalization, Pelé has maintained intense activity on his social networks, especially during the World Cup in Qatar, in which he expressed his support for the players of the Brazilian team, after the painful elimination against Croatia in the quarterfinals. . “Friends, I am in the hospital doing my monthly visit. It’s always nice to receive positive messages. Thanks to Qatar for this tribute, and to all those who send me good vibes! ”, He wrote on his social networks to reassure some fans, who now find no comfort. In the midst of the concern about hospitalization, ‘O rei’ had received a prophetic tribute during the World Cup held in the emirate.
The footballer suffered from mobility problems for more than a decade, suffering from a hip problem that made him limp on one leg. He had also been operated on for two herniated discs, which forced him to walk with a walker and crutches, sometimes even a wheelchair. His weak appearance made him the occasional victim of fake news reports of his death, an outcome he had so far resisted with dignity.
Last year, however, his health took a serious turn for the worse. When he went for a routine examination, the doctors found a malignant tumor in his colon. After the operation, he was hospitalized for a little over a month and since then he has received chemotherapy treatment to which he stopped responding at the beginning of December. The doctors then decided to provide him with palliative care until his death, which took place today.
After his death, Pelé leaves behind a practically unattainable legacy: never before has another player won three World Cups. The Brazilian striker achieved it in 1958, 1962 and 1970. In the first, held in Sweden, the striker left a goal for history, in the final against the hosts, when he was only 18 years old: he received a cross that he controlled with his chest in the area, he pushed the ball up into a hat that flew over the defender, and before it touched the ground, he put it with strength within the network. A year later, this time at Santos, against Juventus from Brazil, he repeated the feat of the hats up to four times before marking.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento had been born two decades earlier, in the town of Tres Corações, in the state of Minas Gerais, on October 23, 1940. His father had been a soccer player, rather mediocre; his career ended early due to a ligament injury. Until consolidating himself as a player capable of earning a living in soccer, Dico, as his friends knew him, helped his family by working as a shoe shiner. Pelé made his Santos debut in 1957 where he would play until 1974, a time when the international trade in players was meager compared to what he represents today. It is unlikely that, if there was a new Pelé, he would be able to play all his life in the same club in Brazil.
After a brief stint with the New York Cosmos, where he ended up to recover from poor financial management that left him on the brink of bankruptcy, Pelé left football for good on October 1, 1977, at the age of 36, with 11,367 games played. , 1,283 goals and a legacy for history. To this day he is still the top scorer for the Brazilian team with 77 goals in all his appearances, although it is likely that Neymar, with 75 and still in top form, will surpass him soon. Pelé’s legacy, however, rises above the statistics: he is along with Maradona and Di Stéfano –and with the permission of Leo Messi– one of the best players of all time, a total striker who led a historic Brazil and that with his death reopens the door to the nostalgia of an extinct football and, in many aspects, surely better.