World mourns death of legendary footballer, Pele

Heaven has got a new signing – and it’s Pele.

The former Brazilian footballer, who was undergoing treatment at Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein hospital in Brazil, died at 3.27pm local time (Dec 29) “due to multiple organ failures resulting from the progression of colon cancer associated with his previous medical condition.”

Brazil’s government declared three days of mourning.

As Malaysians woke up to the devastating news, tributes from athletes, politicians, and celebrities poured in, as they honoured the life of the “king of football”.

French star Kylian Mbappe tweeted: “The king of football has left us but his legacy will never be forgotten. RIP KING.”

Other football stars like Neymar, Erling Haaland, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale also conveyed their condolences.

Celebrities, including comedian David Baddiel and Nigerian Afrobeats singer Burna Boy also paid tribute while former US president Barack Obama said as one of the most recognisable athletes in the world, Pele understood the power of sports to bring people together.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino, in a statement, said: “For everyone who loves the beautiful game, this is the day we never wanted to come. The day we lost Pele.”

“Today, we all mourn the loss of the physical presence of our dear Pele, but he achieved immortality a long time ago and therefore he will be with us for eternity.”

The first child of Dondinho and Celeste, Pele was born as Edson – named after one of the greatest inventors in the world, Thomas Edison.

He was, however, fondly called ‘Dico’ by his family, but received the moniker ‘Pele’ in school due to his mispronunciation of Brazilian goalkeeper, Bile.

Football runs in the family as Pele’s dad, Dondinho was a lower-league footballer.

According to Fifa records:

  • Pele is the youngest scorer, youngest hat-trick scorer, youngest final player, and youngest final scorer in World Cup history.
  • Pele became the second man to score in four World Cups in 1970. He was pipped to the record by merely three minutes by West Germany’s Uwe Seeler.
  • Vava, Pele, Paul Breitner, Zinedine Zidane and Kylian Mbappe are the only players to have scored in two World Cup finals.
  • Pele registered six assists at Mexico 1970 – a record for one World Cup.
  • Pele remains the only footballer to have won three Fifa World Cups.

The universal term to describe football as ‘The Beautiful Game’ was also coined by Pele.

Sao Paulo’s government planned to name a new road complex to the city of Santos, “Rei Pele” (King Pele).

A minute’s silence was observed at Spain’s LaLiga games and a minute’s applause at Olympique de Marseille’s Stade Velodrome in honour of Pele.

Rio’s “Christ the Redeemer” statue was lit up in green and yellow in tribute to the greatest player of all time.

When Diego Maradona died in 2020, Pele said: “One day, I hope we can play football together in the sky”.

That day has come. Rest in peace, Pele.

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