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Brazil football legend Pele dies at 82 after battling cancer
Brazil football legend Pele, one of the greatest players of all time, has died at the age of 82.
The former striker, who is the only player in history to win three World Cups, passed away at the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo following a battle with cancer.
Pele, who is Brazil’s joint all-time top scorer with 77 goals in 92 matches, became an icon of the game after winning the World Cup in 1958 as a 17-year-old, netting twice in the final to defeat hosts Sweden.
Pele, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, to a poor family in Sao Paulo, won 1958, 1962, and 1970 World Cups with Brazil.
Injury restricted his contribution to Brazil’s triumph in 1962 in Chile but he was player of the tournament eight years later, as Brazil assembled one of the greatest sides of all time and lifted the Jules Rimet trophy in Mexico thanks to a 4-1 win over Italy in which Pele scored the opening goal.
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That goal makes him one of only five players to have scored in two World Cup finals and, thanks to his exploits in 1958, he remains the youngest player to have netted a goal at the tournament.
In total, Pele scored 12 goals in 14 World Cup appearances and also provided 10 assists – the most by any player in the history of the competition, and a reminder that he was much more than a goalscorer.
It was his spectacular scoring feats, though, that made him a Santos legend at the club level. Pele holds his hometown side’s all-time goal record and helped them to two Copa Libertadores titles and six Brazilian league crowns during a glittering 18-year spell with the club.
Pele, who scored 1,281 goals in 1363 games for club and country during his career, ended his playing days at New York Cosmos and retired from football in 1977.
After retiring, Pele acted as an ambassador for football. In 2013, he was awarded the FIFA Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur in recognition of his career and achievements.
In 2020, he was named to the Ballon d’Or Dream Team, a greatest of all-time XI.