Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé, died on Thursday at 82.

According to a statement from Albert Einstein Hospital, where he was first admitted in late November, Pelé’s death was caused by multiple organ failure from the progression of his colon cancer.

Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has declared three days of mourning and called Pelé “a great citizen and patriot, raising the name of Brazil wherever he went.”


The renowned soccer player became the first and only person ever to win three World Cups. In 1967, Nigeria famously called a ceasefire during a civil war so he could play a match there. Thirty years later, Queen Elizabeth II knighted the athlete.

Pelé was quietly Brazil’s first black national hero. As biographer Angelica Basthi explained, “He is key for black people’s pride in Brazil, but never wanted to be a flag-bearer.”

The legend’s daughter, Kely Nascimento, shared a touching tribute to her late father on Instagram. “Everything that we are is thanks to you,” she captioned a photo of her family. “We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”

Fellow Brazilian soccer player, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, wrote lovingly in his own Instagram post, “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!”

The announcement of Pelé’s death on his Instagram reads, “Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today. On his journey, Edson enchanted the world with his genius in sport, stopped a war, carried out social works all over the world and spread what he most believed to be the cure for all our problems: love.”

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

His funeral will take place on Monday and Tuesday, and his casket will be carried through Santos, the city where his epic career was born.

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