Brazilian football star Pele has died at the age of 82, his agent has confirmed.
The former Santos FC star, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, had been at the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo since 29 November.
A medical report just before Christmas showed that he needed care for cardiac and renal dysfunction, having been battling colon cancer since September 2021.
His daughter Kely Nascimento paid tribute to her father on Instagram: “We are thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
Pele – originally named Edson Arantes do Nascimento – began playing for Santos at the age of 15 and the Brazilian national team a year later, bursting onto the world football scene as a 17-year-old in the 1958 World Cup.
During his international career, he won three World Cups – in 1958, 1962 and 1970 – the only player to achieve this.
He died on Thursday at 3.27pm Brazilian time due to multiple organ failure resulting from his colon cancer, the hospital said in a statement.
Gary Lineker was among those hailing Pele’s legacy following the news of his death.
He said on Twitter: “The most divine of footballers and joyous of men.
“He played a game only a few chosen ones have come close to.”
England World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst said Pele “remains the greatest of all time”.
He said: “I have so many memories of Pele, without doubt the best footballer I ever played against (with Bobby Moore being the best footballer I ever played alongside).
“For me Pele remains the greatest of all time and I was proud to be on the the pitch with him. RIP Pele and thank you.”
Lionel Messi, another footballer widely considered to be one of the greatest of all time, shared his own simple reflection: “Rest in peace”.
Pele’s role in Brazil’s third victory, in Mexico in 1970, has gone down in football folklore, as he played a key role in arguably the sport’s greatest ever international team.
His glittering 20-year career from 1957 to 1977 saw him score 757 goals in 831 games, although Santos claim his tally was closer to 1,000.
A post on Pele’s official Instagram account following his death said the icon “enchanted the world”.
“Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today.
“On his journey, Edson enchanted the world with his genius in sport, stopped a war, carried out social works all over the world and spread what he most believed to be the cure for all our problems: love.
“His message today becomes a legacy for future generations.
“Love, love and love, forever.”
Why Pele was the greatest footballer of all time
How many hours have been spent arguing, analysing and disagreeing over who was the greatest footballer of all time?
There’s no doubt Pele is at the top of many lists.
No other man has three World Cup wins on his CV – even if he was injured and sat out most of Brazil’s victory in 1962. Lionel Messi has won one World Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo has more goals than Pele, Maradona was probably the better dribbler.
Then there’s Di Stefano, Puskas, Cruyff, Bobby Charlton, George Best – the list of contenders stirs up some special memories.
Fellow Brazilian Marta has a similar status in the women’s game – she’s the first footballer of any gender to score at five World Cups.
Greatness though, isn’t just measured in playing stats.
Pele defined a nation and introduced Brazilian football to the world.
In 1967 he and his team were in Nigeria where the west African nation’s civil war was actually put on hold for 48 hours so that people could watch the great man play.
That’s the hallmark of greatness.
It’s not just the goals but the power to change the way people feel – about themselves, their team, their country and the game they love. The game Pele was born to play.