Brazil football legend Pele has died at the age of 82, his family has confirmed. Pele had been battling colon cancer and was being treated for cardiac and renal dysfunction in the hospital.
“Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace,” his daughter Kely Nascimento wrote on Instagram on Thursday.
Pele was so powerful and admired by many people in his heydays that he was able to achieve what political leaders and the international community couldn’t – stop a devastating civil war in Nigeria on his own.
The Biafran War ended in 1970 after the Nigerians captured the entire territory but in 1969, the Brazilian soccer star was able to influence the two factions in the war to agree on a 48-hour ceasefire so that two games could be played peacefully. Such was the magic of Pele.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento (his real name) in 1940 in the city of Tres Coracoes in southeastern Brazil, Pele became a household name, playing for a Brazilian club called Santos and then the Brazil national team. Widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, Pele is the only player in history to win three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970).
In 2000, FIFA named him the greatest footballer of the 20th century alongside Diego Maradona of Argentina. Despite suffering health problems, Pele was all smiles when he celebrated his 80th birthday two years ago.