By Ed Malik, A | December 30, 2022
ed@ddnewsonline.com

In the world of the round leather game, no one was bigger than Pelé. And now, there’s word he’s gone and the world is thrown in affective mourning mode.

The soccer legend was born 23 October 1940 and named Edson Arantes do Nascimento by his parents but in later years, in the football world that he bestrode like a colossus, he became popularly and mononymously known as Pele for his uncommon dexterity with the ball.

Pele was the Brazilian king of soccer who won a record three World Cups and became one of the most commanding sports figures of the last century until his death on Thursday, December 29 at the age of 82.

Only recently, the standard-bearer of “the beautiful game” underwent treatment for colon cancer since 2021. The medical center where he had been hospitalized said he died of multiple organ failure as a result of the cancer.

Neymar Jnr, a fellow Brazilian soccer player, said on Instagram, “Pelé changed everything. He transformed football into art, entertainment”.

“Football and Brazil elevated their standing thanks to the King! He is gone, but his magic will endure. Pelé is eternal!”

During his stunning career, Pele won seven Golden Ball Awards and also, the “Balones de Oro” in his native Portuguese; an award usually given to the best player during a championship run.

News giant, AP, reports that “there’s no question that his ability to make goals was dominant”.

Different sources, counting different sets of games, list Pelé’s goal totals anywhere between 650 (league matches) and 1,281 (all senior matches, some against low-level competition).

The player who would be dubbed “The King” was introduced to the world at 17 at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, the youngest player ever at the tournament. He was carried off the field on teammates’ shoulders after scoring two goals in Brazil’s 5-2 victory over the host country in the final.

It is on record how he had consistently encouraged, supported and helped his teams in the several World Cup engagements.

Pelé helped Brazil to two more World Cup trophies – at the 1962 World Cup in Chile and 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Brazil crashed out in the first round of the 1966 World Cup in England, having only played three matches.

Fox News shared a rare glimpse of the high regard leaders and soccer fans had for the superstar athlete, as in one anecdote about war, and his meeting with then-President Ronald Reagan.

It is even commonly believed that the late football icon was a global peace ambassador of some sort, so much so, that in the late 1960s, the two factions in the Nigerian Civil War reportedly agreed to a 48-hour ceasefire so they could watch Pele play in an exhibition game in Lagos.

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan summarized Pelé’s stardom when the soccer star visited him at the White House and he said: “My name is Ronald Reagan; I’m the president of the United States of America. But you don’t need to introduce yourself, because everyone knows who Pelé is.”

The report adds that Pelé “is survived by his third wife, Marcia Aoki, six children from various relationships, and several grandchildren.”

A spot tribute from French President Emmanuel Macron on social media reads, “The Game. The King. Forever.”

Pele is mourned worldwide beyond the football community.

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