Edson Arantes do Nascimento, who became known as Pele and one of the greatest and most popular football players in the world, died Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He turned 82.
Pele was born in 1940 in Tres Coracoes, Minas Gerais state, and grew up in poverty. His parents couldn’t even afford a football. An old sock filled with newspapers was the first “ball” his magical feet kicked into, but it was enough for him to fall in love with the game – and for people to notice he was different.
His unparalleled skill saw him score two goals in the 1958 World Cup final to lead Brazil to victory over Sweden. He was only 17.
Pele, who is credited with coining the phrase “the beautiful game” to refer to soccer, also helped his Brazil win the World Cup in 1962 and 1970.
In addition to skills and charismaa certain mystique always surrounded the character of the king of football.
One of his many famous quotes, made during the last game he ever played in New York in 1977, was to honor children and with his limited English he simply said “love, love, love”.
Brazil’s outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro has declared three days of mourning for the people over Pele’s death.
His funeral will take place at the Vila Belmiro stadium, outside Sao Paulo, where Pele played some of the best games of his career.