Pele has died at the age of 82

Pele, legend of Brazil and Santos
(Image credit: Alex Gotfryd/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Brazilian legend Pele has passed away at the age of 82. A medical report just before Christmas showed that he was being treated for cardiac and renal dysfunction after battling colon cancer since September 2021.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers to have ever played the game and the only man to have won the World Cup three times, the world is now mourning the sad passing of a striker who netted 1,279 goals in 1,363 games.

Pele was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Santos in Santos in 1940 – and originally hated his nickname of ‘Pele’, given to him apparently because of the way he pronounced his favourite player, Bile. He was given his first professional contract at the age of 16 and by 17, he was going to the World Cup with Brazil in 1958.

Pele

Pele celebrates winning the World Cup in 1970 (Image credit: Getty)

He became the youngest player to play in a World Cup final match at 17 years and 249 days in 1958 – and subsequently, became the youngest scorer ever in a final. He is still only one of two teenagers to have scored in the World Cup final, the other being Kylian Mbappe. Throughout the 1960s, he would become the first great superstar of the game during a golden era for Santos: he led the club to the 1962 and 1963 Copa Libertadores along with the 1962 and 1963 Intercontinental Cup.

In 1962, Pele was a member of the last team to retain the World Cup. Eight years later, he was a central figure in the Selecao’s attack when Brazil lifted their third trophy; he assisted the iconic goal that Carlos Alberto scored in the final and later in the 1970s, moved to New York Cosmos from Santos. 

Masopust and Pele

Pele in action in 1962 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Pele is also credited with innovations such as the “rainbow flick” and coining the phrase, “the beautiful game” in relation to football, while some of the greats of the game have regarded him as the greatest footballer of all time. 

Johan Cruyff described Pele as “the only footballer who surpassed the boundaries of logic”, Frank Beckenbauer claimed Pele, “is the greatest player of all time. He reigned supreme for 20 years. There's no one to compare with him”, while Ferenc Puskas “refuse[d] to classify him as a player”. 

Pele leaves a lifetime of memories and will be sorely missed by all he inspired. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.