(NBC) Brazilian soccer star Pelé has died. The three-time world cup winner had been battling colon cancer since 2021.
He was considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. To many, he was soccer’s “golden boy.” To others, he was simply “Pelé.”
Across most of the world, soccer fans consider Pelé not only a superstar but a mythical figure. His soccer career spanned nearly two decades.
The sport was a family passion and, from an early age, he showed a desire to play the game.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, he gained international attention in 1958 when he led Brazil to victory in the World Cup Final. Under Pelé‘s leadership, Brazil also won the World Cup in 1962 and for a third time in 1970.
In 1974 Pelé officially announced his retirement. But a year later he accepted a $7 million contract to play with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League.
He was successful in elevating the sport in the U.S. And remained with the Cosmos for two and a half seasons, leading the team to a championship in 1977.
But Pelé retired in 1978, ending his career with an impressive 1,280 goals in only 1,362 games. He published a best-selling autobiography in 1977. A year later he received the International Peace Award. He composed many musical pieces, including the score to the film ” Pelé .”
The president of Brazil appointed him to the Brazilian Cabinet as head of sports and later, he received an honorary British knighthood.
During this time he proposed legislation to reduce corruption in Brazilian soccer, which became known as the “Pelé Law.”
He left his position in 2001 after he himself was accused of involvement in a corruption scandal, although nothing was proven.
For years, he battled with various illnesses, including kidney stones and complications with urinary tract infections.
In 2016, the then-75-year-old soccer star decided the illness was too much to participate in the summer Olympics opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, much to the disappointment of his fans in his native Brazil.
But it was Pelé‘s feats on the soccer field that left him as a player without equal
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