Pelé: A month without the soccer legend


Alberto Ferreira — Bicicleta de Pelé, Maracanã, 1965

For soccer lovers, the last few months have been filled with emotions. First, the FIFA World Cup — which was possibly the last championship for Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi — and most recently, the death of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known by his nickname Pelé.

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 puts many players in emphasis. With this, their story and soccer history in their countries also come to light.

Brazil was given the highest chance of winning the 2022 World Cup ahead of the tournament. The team has also won the most World Cups of any country, and is the only country to have played at every World Cup. This reputation and passion for soccer in Brazil started with Pelé — a Brazilian professional soccer player who played as a forward.

Any true soccer fan has heard of Brazil’s team and, consequently, of Pelé. He is known worldwide for his talent in the field that started early in his life and revolutionized the sport forever.

“To watch him play was to watch the delight of a child combined with the extraordinary grace of a man in full,” Nelson Mandela said to FIFA

After a long and meaningful life, the soccer world came to a stop on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, when Pelé died at the age of 82 in São Paulo, Brazil.

“The Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in São Paulo said the cause was multiple organ failure, the result of the progression of colon cancer,” Lawrie Mifflin said in The New York Times

Many news outlets wrote about Pelé’s death, including The NY Times, The Washington Post, CNN, ESPN, BBC, The Guardian, NPR, AP News and others. 

Here are some highlights of Pelé’s life:

  • He was included on Time’s list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century in the Icons category of 1999. The same list includes names like Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa and the Kennedys.
  • In 2000, Pelé was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS).
  • He was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century recognition.
  • Pelé was recognized two times as a Guinness World Recordist: once for scoring 1,283 goals across his international career, and again for being the only player in the history of the game to win three World Cup medals.
  • Pelé was appointed UNESCO Champion for Sport in April 1994 because of his outstanding commitment to promoting the sport and helping disadvantaged children.

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

There is much to say, read and watch about this legendary athlete. Among many articles published, Netflix launched a documentary about the “soccer king.”

“I think it will be, always, the beautiful game,” Pelé said about soccer in 2011.

When a legacy becomes as significant as Pelé’s did, it lives forever in others.