The sports world lost one of its biggest icons Thursday. Pele, widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, died after undergoing colon cancer treatment since 2021, his agent and daughter confirmed. He was 82.
Pele, from Tres Coracoes, Brazil, arrived on the world soccer stage at 17, playing in the 1958 World Cup. He is the only men’s soccer player to win three World Cups, doing so in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He scored 77 goals in official international competition with the national team.
He played for the Brazilian club Santos from 1956 to ’74 and with the New York Cosmos, of the North American Soccer League, from 1975 to ’77.
— Santos FC (@SantosFC) December 29, 2022
REI PELÉ 👑👑👑 pic.twitter.com/epP8zZHRYr
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) December 29, 2022
Neymar, Pele’s countryman and a Brazilian icon in his own right, said, “Pele changed everything. He transformed football in art, in entertainment. He gave voice to the poor, to Black people and mainly, he put Brazil on the map.”
France’s Kylian Mbappe has drawn comparisons to Pele. Mbappe won the 2018 World Cup as a 19-year-old and played in the 2022 final at age 23. Mbappe and Pele are the only teenagers to score goals in a World Cup.
The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten.
RIP KING 💔👑… pic.twitter.com/F55PrcM2Ud
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) December 29, 2022
Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the few players, alongside Lionel Messi, often mentioned with Pele as the game’s greatest, called Pele “an inspiration to so many millions, a legend yesterday, today and forever.”
Pele was known all over the world and was an ambassador for the sport. While he never played professionally in the biggest leagues, the top European clubs shared their thoughts.
Forever King. 👑
Paris Saint-Germain sends its condolences to friends, family and the entirety of Brazilian people in this sad time.
You made the magic happen, King.
Thank you for everything. ❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/BezS5S63i6
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) December 29, 2022
Pelé has left us today. We would like to express our condolences to his family and friends.
Rest in peace. https://t.co/PlAnivIVe2
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) December 29, 2022
Forever a legend.
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 29, 2022
We are truly saddened to hear the news of Pele’s passing.
As a club, we had the privilege of hosting Pele in 1981, at Highbury. A memory we will always cherish.
Our thoughts, along with entire football community are with Pele’s loved ones today. pic.twitter.com/PZgWmXvSRh
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 29, 2022
Barça expresses its sorrow to learn of the death of the “Rei” Pelé, one of the greatest footballers of all time. He made football greater than ever. May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/r8TQbVyN28
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 29, 2022
We are deeply saddened to hear that football legend Pelé has passed away. May we pass on our sincerest condolences to his friends and family.
Rest in peace, O Rei. pic.twitter.com/KtnZMGuz7d
— AC Milan (@acmilan) December 29, 2022
Farewell to the King. The master of the beautiful game.
Rest in peace, Pelé. 💙 pic.twitter.com/Cd7xccxX9B
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 29, 2022
Rest in peace, Pele.
Thank you for the joy you brought to football fans around the world ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Ypo6NGxdqS
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 29, 2022
Rest In Peace, Pelé. pic.twitter.com/uEN8Bep0ci
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) December 29, 2022
Pele’s play on the international stage is what made him a legend. Besides the World Cup titles, he scored 12 World Cup goals, including two in the 1958 final as a 17-year-old. He won finals against Sweden (1958), Czechoslovakia (1962) and Italy (1970).
One of the greatest to have graced the beautiful game.
Farewell, Pelé. You will never be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/bMUEat5MP2
— England (@England) December 29, 2022
One of the greatest players to ever do it. 🇧🇷⚽️
RIP, 𝒪 𝑅𝑒𝒾. 🕊️👑
— Mexican National Team (@miseleccionmxEN) December 29, 2022
Our sport has lost a legend.
Rest easy, Pelé. 💙 pic.twitter.com/mQQ4DvyCGT
— U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (@USMNT) December 29, 2022