Brazilian football legend Pele has died following a long battle with cancer, his family confirmed on Thursday.
His daughter Kely Nascimento took to Instagram as the news broke to post a tribute to her father, accompanied by a photo of family members holding his hand as he rested in a hospital bed.
“Everything we are is thanks to you,” Nascimento wrote. “We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
The 82-year-old three-time World Cup winner, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was also suffering from heart and kidney problems.
The Brazilian forward would revolutionise football with his style of play and rampant goal-scoring over two decades, forging a legacy as one of the most talented players to ever grace a pitch and bringing forward a style that nobody had ever seen before.
Following Argentina’s World Cup win last week in Qatar, Pele posted a picture on social media of their team lifting the trophy and hailed performances from captain Lionel Messi, France’s rising star Kylian Mbappe and surprise semifinalists Morocco.
“Today, football continues to tell its story, as always, in an enthralling way,” he said. “What a gift it was to watch this spectacle of the future of our sport.”
As a 17-year-old, Pelé won his first football or soccer World Cup, in 1958, going on to lift the top trophy in the game a further two times, in 1962 and 1970. He scored a world record 1,281 goals, playing in 1,363 games during his professional career, which began when he was just 15.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, in 1940, the football giant, nicknamed, “the Black Pearl”, and “the King”, retired from the game in 1977.
In 1999, the Santos player and Brazil’s most venerated star, was voted player of the century in a poll of previous Ballon d’Or winners – the players who win the annual global football award for being the outstanding performers that year.