Remembering The Black Pearl: Pele

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, was a Brazilian footballing genius who passed away on 29th December 2022 at the age of 82. His passing was a shock, and millions worldwide mourned this loss. One of the most remembered and honored athletes in the football and sporting communities is Pele. His health had been declining since late 2017, and multiple organ failures brought on by complications from colon cancer are believed to be the cause of his death. In September 2021, Pelé underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his colon and was also receiving chemotherapy. He leaves six kids behind.
His character, both on and off the field, enhanced the elegance of his play. When he was playing, Pele earned the most money of any athlete. Pele and football helped Brazil gain international fame. However, Pele gave the world more than just football; he was a master of the beautiful game, which helped Brazil win the world championship in 1958, 1962, and 1970. The rivals and spectators were in awe as Pele, Garrincha, and Zagallo dazzled both men and women with their magic, making them a lethal combination.

Remembering Pele

Remembering Pele

Early Life

Raised in poverty, introduced to the game by a member of the family, and later obsessed with a sport that taught him about life and provided opportunities, his early years were similar to those of many soccer players who came before him and countless others who then accompanied and were inspired by him. First, he played youth team football in 1953 when he joined his neighborhood team, Bauru. However, Pelé’s first professional team, Santos, catapulted him into stardom. Before leaving in 1974, he lived there since 1956, participating in 636 games and tallying 618 goals. Pelé was not only the team’s lifeblood but also fiercely devoted to just one team.

He was among the most decorated athletes and is still the only person in history to have won the FIFA World Cup three times (1958, 1962, and 1970). He was Brazil’s star No. 10 forward, and people praised him for his two-footed play, quick pace, and high stamina. In a career from 1957 to 1977, he scored an impressive 757 goals in 831 games for his country.

Pelé made his debut as an international player for Brazil at sixteen. He scored against Argentina, and 65 years later, he holds the record for being Brazil’s national team’s youngest-ever scorer.

This young player assisted his country in winning the World Cup in Sweden a year later, in 1958. Then again, at the World Cup in Chile in 1962 and the Mexico City competition in 1970.

Stint in America

Afterwards, in 1975, he came out of semi-retirement to play for the North American Soccer League’s New York Cosmos. Even though Pelé was in his mid-30s at the time, he could still score 37 goals in 64 games. As a result, some people think that his brief time playing in America initially sparked the nation’s interest in football.

Pelé was revered, adored, and remained influential even after he retired. He and Diego Maradona split the FIFA Player of the Century honor. Even Nelson Mandela, who presented the Brazilian with a Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, spoke highly of him when he presented him with FIFA’s first-ever Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur in 2014.

No one could ever question Pelé’s talent. But it was fortunate that he got to play at a time when football was coming out from under the shadow of a world war and when the community needed heroes in sports as their symbols of hope and courage.

Life After Retirement

Pele’s journey began in the streets of Sao Paulo, where he would kick a sock filled with rags or newspapers, propelling Brazil to the pinnacles of soccer. Pele later went on to become a brand ambassador for his sport. Only the late Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo are mentioned in the same breath as Pelé when discussing the greatest soccer players.

As his health declined, so did his travels and appearances. In his later years, he regularly used a wheelchair and chose to forego the dedication of a statue honoring him for his participation in the Brazil World Cup team in 1970. Instead, Pelé celebrated his 80th birthday alone with a select group of family members at a beach house.

Brazil was a footballing underdog before him, but by his retirement, the country had won three World Cups: in 1958, 1962, and 1970. He is the only footballer to have accomplished this feat. Pelé, revered for “Joga bonito,” the Portuguese term for “the beautiful game,” overcame many obstacles to become known as the football god.

Pele nevertheless became a symbol of contemporary Brazil. Pelé was selected as the International Olympic Committee’s Athlete of the Century. The International Federation of Football History, as well as Statistics, named Pelé Player of the Century. He was knighted by the Queen of the British Empire and served as Brazil’s Minister of Sports and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, all while advocating for education. In his final match, played in New York in 1977, he honored children by saying “love, love, love,” which later became his famous quote.

Final Thoughts

The man who played football in a way that many of us – professionals and amateurs – have all aspired to do. This is what will stick in people’s minds forever. Over many decades, Pelé displayed not only great skill but also brought immense joy to countless people all over the world. We would not forget him, not even those with the slightest interest in football.

He had such a passion for football that, in his final moments, he watched his team play in the 2022 FIFA World Cup from his hospital bed. Millions of people will carry Pelé’s memory in their hearts after his passing. He lived as a legend, passed away a legend and will live on as a legend.

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