Pelé, Global Face of Soccer, Dies at 82

Xavi Torrent/Getty Images for Pele

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Pelé, the world’s first soccer icon, has died, his daughter wrote on Instagram. He was 82.

A native of Brazil, Pelé led his country to three World Cups and became the first truly worldwide famous face of the sport in the 1970s.

“Everything that we are, is thanks to you,” his daughter Kely Nascimento wrote in a post on Instagram, alongside an image of the family holding Pele’s hands. “We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”

Pelé was admitted to the hospital in San Paolo in November after suffering complications from colon cancer, including a respiratory infection. He died from organ failure due to the progression of cancer, per a statement from Albert Einstein Hospital.

Pelé, Global Face of Soccer, Dies at 82

Few people have ever even come close to dominating soccer like Pelé, who led his team to four World Cups in all, and remains the only player to have won three. He averaged nearly one goal a game for his career along the way.

“I was born to play football, just like Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint,” Pelé once said.

Tributes poured in from the sports world, wit Brazilian soccer player Neymar writing: “He turned football into art, into entertainment. He gave a voice to the poor, to black people and especially: He gave visibility to Brazil. Football and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King!”

Former English soccer player Geoff Hurst called Pelé “without doubt the best footballer I ever played against (with Bobby Moore being the best footballer I ever played alongside). For me Pele remains the greatest of all time and I was proud to be on the pitch with him. RIP Pele and thank you.”

Read More: Have You Heard Adam Sandler’s Emotional Chris Farley Tribute?

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