Legendary football player Pele battling colon cancer dies at 82

NEW DELHI: Legendary and iconic Brazilian footballer Edson Arantes do Nascimento but known popularly by his nickname Pele who won three FIFA World Cups and became the sport's first global icon died at the age of 82 due to multiple organ failure, a complication of colon cancer.

Pele's daughter, Kely Cristina Nascimento, shared a heartfelt Instagram post in the wake of the Brazilian football legend's death on Brazilan date Thursday, 29 December. Ms Nascimento shared a photo that showed several pairs of hands clasped around her father's hand. 

Pele had a tumour removed from his colon in 2021 and was taking chemotherapy ever since. In November 2022, ESPN Brasil had reported that Pele had been taken to the hospital with "general swelling", along with cardiac issues and concerns that his chemotherapy treatment was not having the expected effect although his daughter Kely had stated there was 'no emergency' at that moment. 

He had cheered for the Brazilian team during the recently concluded FIFA World Cup in Qatar from the hospital bed.  

Pele was born on October 23, 1940, at Tres Coracoes, in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais and gained global superstardom after playing an important part in Brazil’s maiden FIFA World Cup triumph in 1958. Although still a teenager then, Pele had fired in a hat-trick in the semi-final against France and followed it up with a brace in the final against Sweden to help the Selecaowin the first of their record five world titles.

He was part of the team again in 1962 that defended the title, before adding a third World Cup to his name in 1970, when Brazil famously defeated Italy in the final in what was the first football World Cup. He scored 12 goals in his World Cup career which included a total of four tournaments.

Pele remained the highest goal-scorer for Brazil, with 77 goals in 95 games, during his lifetime. His record was tied by current Brazil sensation Neymar, during the team’s quarter-final loss in the World Cup earlier this month.

Pele had a significant fan following in India, especially in football-playing states like West Bengal, Manipur, Kerala and Goa.

He first came to India in September of 1977 and thrilled 80,000 people in an exhibition match between Cosmos vs Mohun Bagan in the then Calcutta. There was so much euphoria as if Durga Puja had arrived a month early that year. 

Years later, in 2015, the Brazilian great was once again back in India, but this time as a chief guest at the Subroto Cup, a national-level inter-school competition, while his most recent visit was in 2018 during the Leadership Summit of India’s national newspaper, the Hindustan Times. Pele was interviewed by India’s best-known football face, Bhaichung Bhutia.


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