Brazilian soccer legend Pele, widely considered the greatest player of all time and the only three-time World Cup winner, has died aged 82 after a battle with cancer, his family said Thursday.
Pele, whose real name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is credited with scoring a record 1,281 goals in 1,363 appearances, including 77 goals in 92 matches for the Selecao.
He was jointly named FIFA’s Player of the Century in 2000 alongside Argentina’s Diego Maradona.
“Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace,” Pele’s daughter Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram.
Born in Tres Coracoes, Minas Gerais, Pele began his career at the age of 15 with Santos. At 17, he made his World Cup debut in 1958.
He remains the World Cup’s youngest goal scorer, netting a hat-trick among six goals in the No. 10 shirt as he guided Brazil to their first title.
Pele missed most of the 1962 finals in Chile due to injury as Brazil won their second title before playing another starring role in 1970 in Mexico, scoring four goals to secure their third World Cup.
Blessed with technique, pace and athleticism, Pele was alone at the top of the goal scorers list for Brazil with 77 until the current No. 10, Neymar, tied his record during their quarterfinal exit to Croatia via a penalty shootout at the Qatar World Cup in December.
Pele, who spent most of his career at Santos before joining the New York Cosmos in his final playing years, served as Brazil’s sports minister from 1995 to 1998.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES