Sports world reacts to death of soccer icon Pele

Sports world reacts to death of soccer icon Pele
Sports world reacts to death of soccer icon Pele

The sports world lost one of its biggest icons Thursday. Pele, widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, died after undergoing colon cancer treatment since 2021, his agent and daughter confirmed. He was 82.

Pele, from Tres Coracoes, Brazil, arrived on the world soccer stage at 17, playing in the 1958 World Cup. He is the only men’s soccer player to win three World Cups, doing so in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He scored 77 goals in official international competition with the national team.

He played for the Brazilian club Santos from 1956 to ’74 and with the New York Cosmos, of the North American Soccer League, from 1975 to ’77.

Neymar, Pele’s countryman and a Brazilian icon in his own right, said, “Pele changed everything. He transformed football in art, in entertainment. He gave voice to the poor, to Black people and mainly, he put Brazil on the map.”

France’s Kylian Mbappe has drawn comparisons to Pele. Mbappe won the 2018 World Cup as a 19-year-old and played in the 2022 final at age 23. Mbappe and Pele are the only teenagers to score goals in a World Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the few players, alongside Lionel Messi, often mentioned with Pele as the game’s greatest, called Pele “an inspiration to so many millions, a legend yesterday, today and forever.”

Pele was known all over the world and was an ambassador for the sport. While he never played professionally in the biggest leagues, the top European clubs shared their thoughts.

Pele’s play on the international stage is what made him a legend. Besides the World Cup titles, he scored 12 World Cup goals, including two in the 1958 final as a 17-year-old. He won finals against Sweden (1958), Czechoslovakia (1962) and Italy (1970).