Brazilian soccer legend Pelé has died at age 82.
His daughter confirmed his death in an Instagram post Thursday, saying, “Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
Pelé, whose legal name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, died during a hospital stay in Sao Paulo for his advanced colon cancer.
Over the Christmas holiday, Pelé’s children posted tributes to their father on Instagram. His daughter, Kely Nascimento, wrote, “Even in sadness we just have to be grateful,” adding ”To be grateful for being together, to be grateful for the love of you all, to be grateful for being here now with him. Merry Christmas.”
Pelé, widely considered to be the world’s best soccer player and who was awarded FIFA’s Player of the Century in 2000, competed in four World Cup championships for Brazil and won three.
“For me Pele remains the greatest of all time and I was proud to be on the the pitch with him,” Sir Geoff Hurst, former World Cup player for England, wrote.
“A man with a strong legacy that will be remembered FOREVER,” Nigerian recording artist Burna Boy said.
On Instagram, French soccer player Kylian Mbappe wrote, “The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten.”
Former English soccer player Gary Lineker described Pele as “the most divine of footballers and joyous of men.”
Brazil’s government hailed him as the “champion of champions” and said that he will be remembered by generations as a “gentleman off the field, and a magician on it.”
A video shared by Italian sports journalist Fabrizio Romano showed Pelé and Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona head a soccer ball in front of a live television audience.
Former German soccer star Franz Beckenbauer, who was Pele’s teammate on the New York Cosmos in the 1970s, wrote, “Football lost the greatest in its history today - and I lost a unique friend.”
- In Brazil’s Portuguese-language outlet Folha, reporter Juca Kfouri writes that European newspapers were right to label Pelé a “God” at the height of his career, adding: “Even the goals he missed were the most beautiful goals ever.”
- It was Pelé that helped make soccer ”the beautiful game" as it’s known today, Lawrie Mifflin writes in The New York Times. And it’s not just that Pele played “it better than anyone,” Mifflin said, “he also championed it around the world.”