Pele death: Brazilian legend dies at age of 82 - is his cause of death known, tributes to ‘the king’

Pele is regarded as one of the greatest footballers in history and holds the all-time scoring record for Brazil alongside Neymar

Brazil great Pele has died at the age of 82, his family have announced on social media.

The football icon had been in hospital recently in his lengthy battle with cancer. The legend’s daughter had recently pledged to remain by his side as he received care after his condition progressed.

Pele, full name Edson Arantes do Nascimento, had a tumour removed from his colon in September 2021. He was admitted to the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo on 29 November. He died at the age of 82.

Last week, a statement from the hospital said Pele required further care “related to renal and cardiac dysfunctions”.

Pele dies at the age of 82

In a post on social media, his family announced his passing. It reads: “A inspiração e o amor marcaram a jornada de Rei Pelé, que faleceu no dia de hoje. Amor, amor e amor, para sempre.

“Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today. Love, love and love, forever.”

Is Pele’s cause of death known?

The Brazilian legend has died at the age of 82 his family have announced. He had previously had a tumour removed in 2021 and had been receiving treatment for cancer.

A hospital statement read: “The Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein regretfully confirms the death of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele, today, December 29, 2022, at 3:27 pm, due to the failure of multiple organs, a result of the progression of cancer of colon associated with his previous clinical condition. Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein sympathizes with the family and everyone who suffers from the loss of our dear King of Football.”

What had been said about Pele’s illness?

In the most recent update prior to his death, Pele’s daughter, Kely Nascimento, had confirmed members of his family would spend Christmas in the hospital with him. On Saturday (24 December), she posted a picture on Instagram which showed her sitting next to one of Pele’s sons, Edinho, and two of his children at the hospital. “He (Edson) is here,” Kely Nascimento wrote alongside the picture, adding in a hashtag “I will not be leaving, nobody will take me out of here.”

On Christmas Eve she posted a photo of Pele in a hospital bed with the caption: “We continue here, in struggle and in faith. One more night together.”

In her latest update, Nascimento shared a photo from the hospital with an emotional caption. She wrote: “We always have a lot to be thankful for, even spending Christmas in the hospital we are aware of the privilege it is to be in a hospital like @hosp_einstein. To see our father treated by these professionals, super competent and extremely affectionate. Not a moment goes by that we forget this privilege.

“Even in sadness, we just have to be grateful. Thank you for being together, thank you for all your love, thank you for being here with him now..”

Pele burst on to the scene during the 1958 World Cup. (Getty Images)
Pele burst on to the scene during the 1958 World Cup. (Getty Images)
Pele burst on to the scene during the 1958 World Cup. (Getty Images)

How has the football world reacted?

The Brazilian Football Federation posted a picture of Pele celebrating a goal, saying “RIP Pele” and adding three crown emojis.

Sir Geoff Hurst, the former England striker, also paid tribute, tweeting: “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 pitch with him. RIP Pele and thank you.”

Gary Neville wrote: “Rest in Peace the legend Pele. What a Smile.”

Osvaldo Ardiles tweeted: “The King of Kings has died. Extraordinary player. Unique. 3 times World Cup winner, more than a thousand goals. My idol when young. He made football the beautiful game and truly international. My time playing alongside him in Escape to Victory was a dream come true. RIP Pele.”

The official England Twitter account posted a picture of Pele exchanging shirts with Bobby Moore after their meeting at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. “One of the greatest to have graced the beautiful game,” read the tweet. “Farewell, Pele. You will never be forgotten.”

Argentina’s World Cup winner Lionel Messi posted a picture on Instagram of him with Pele with the message: “Rest in peace, @pele.”

Cristiano Ronaldo posted a picture of him receiving an award from Pele and wrote: “My deepest condolences to all of Brazil, and in particular to the family of Mr. Edson Arantes do Nascimento. A mere “goodbye” to the eternal King Pele will never be enough to express the pain that currently embraces the entire world of football.

“An inspiration for so many millions, a reference from yesterday, today, forever. The affection he always showed for me was reciprocal in every moment we shared, even from a distance. He will never be forgotten and his memory will live on forever in each of us football lovers. Rest in peace, King Pele.”

Gary Lineker tweeted: “Pele has died. The most divine of footballers and joyous of men. He played a game only a few chosen ones have come close to. 3 times he lifted the most coveted gold trophy in that beautiful yellow shirt. He may have left us but he’ll always have footballing immortality. RIP Pele.”

Pele: arguably the greatest footballer of all time

Pele is Brazil’s joing top international goalscorer with 77 goals from 92 appearances. He is widely regarded as the best footballer of his generation and many experts view him as the greatest ever. That debate continues to rage, but Pele is certainly always in the conversation, alongside Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.

Over the course of a glittering 14-year career the forward won the World Cup three times in 1958,1962 and 1970, and is the only player to have achieved such a feat.

Pele in his Santos jersey in 1961 (AFP via Getty Images)
Pele in his Santos jersey in 1961 (AFP via Getty Images)
Pele in his Santos jersey in 1961 (AFP via Getty Images)

Pele burst onto the scene at the age of just 15 whilst playing in the Brazilian top-flight with Santos and quickly established himself as one of the most exciting talents in the division. He was introduced into the Brazil setup as a teenager and made his full international debut at the age of 16 years and nine months. He scored on his debut during a 2-1 defeat to Argentina and to this day remains his country’s youngest ever goalscorer.

The teenage striker was included in the Brazil squad for the 1958 World Cup in Sweden at the age of 17 and it was during this tournament that the young striker would establish himself as a household name.

Pele played a defining role in helping Brazil to their first World Cup title in 1958 and became the youngest footballer to score at a World Cup during a 1-0 victory over Wales at 17 years and 239 days. Pele went on to break a series of records - becoming the youngest player to score a hat-trick during a 5-2 semi-final victory over France, before also becoming the youngest World Cup final goalscorer after a brace against Sweden.

Pele continued to play a pivotal role at international level over the remainder of his career with Brazil. He won a further two World Cups in 1962 and 1970 and became his country’s all-time leading goalscorer with 77 goals in 92 appearances.

His performances with Brazil’s “team of the century” at the Mexico World Cup in 1970 are particularly memorable. With the action broadcast on TV in colour for the first time, Pele pulled off some remarkable moments of audacity, although England goalkeeper Gordon Banks’ unbelievable save from his downward header produced one of the most iconic images from that tournament.

After a spell at the New York Cosmos, he retired in 1977 and became a worldwide ambassador for football. In December 2000, he was awarded FIFA Player of the Century alongside Argentina icon Maradona.

‘There’s no one to compare with him’

Many footballers have described Pele as the greatest to ever play the game - he was synonymous with connecting the phrase ‘The Beautiful Game’ with football.

Even Romario, the former striker who had a long-standing feud with Pele, has wished the Brazilian football legend well in a recent video. Speaking to Ge Globo, Romario said: “King, get better. So much faith. The whole world is looking and praying for you. Improvements! I kiss your heart.”

During the recent World Cup, France star Kylian Mbappe tweeted: 'Pray for the King', while Rivaldo and Vinicius Jr simply posted “Strength King” on their social media pages.

Pele dribbles past a defender during a friendly match between Malmoe and Brazil, on May 8, 1960 (Getty Images)
Pele dribbles past a defender during a friendly match between Malmoe and Brazil, on May 8, 1960 (Getty Images)
Pele dribbles past a defender during a friendly match between Malmoe and Brazil, on May 8, 1960 (Getty Images)

Here are some memorable quotes from those who shared the pitch with Pele:

Carlos Alberto, Brazil 1970 winning captain: “His greatest secret was improvisation. Those things he did were in one moment. He had an extraordinary perception of the game.”

Franz Beckenbauer, West Germany 1974 winning captain: “Pele is the greatest player of all-time. He reigned supreme for 20 years. There’s no one to compare with him.”

Bobby Charlton, England 1966 World Cup winner: “I sometimes feel as though football was invented for this magical player.”