Football’s greatest living legend Pele has died, after a battle with bowel cancer.
Pele’s daughter Kely Nascimento confirmed the news on Instagram, in a post that said: “Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”
Pele underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his colon last year, and has been in and out of hospital since.
The 82-year-old was taken to hospital last month and was receiving pain relief on an end-of-life ward after his treatment for cancer stopped working.
Pele had been staying at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo after being admitted with symptoms of ‘general swelling’ and ‘heart failure’.
Kylian Mbappe and Rivaldo were among those who sent messages of support to Pele amid news that his health had taken a turn for the worse.
France striker Mbappe, immersed in a World Cup campaign with Les Bleus in Qatar, wrote on Twitter: “Pray for the king.”
Former Brazil number 10 Rivaldo, a World Cup winner in 2002, wished Pele strength on his Twitter, while the legend’s former club Santos said: “The whole world stands with you and wishes you the best.”
As a teenager, Pele inspired Brazil to their first World Cup triumph in 1958 and won the tournament with the Selecao twice more in 1962 and 1970.
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and labelled “the greatest” by FIFA, Pele was among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century.
When Brazil got their 2022 campaign under way, Pele sent a message of good luck to the squad.
An Instagram post from his account said: “Today we start writing a new story. No matter the size and tradition of the opponents: we must respect and play each match with the focus of a final.
“I am sending all positive energies to you. I’m sure we’ll have a happy ending. God bless you. Bring this trophy home!”
Later on, when Brazil exited the World Cup race, Pele was among the first to comfort Neymar.
“I saw you grow, I cheered for you every day and finally I can congratulate you for equaling my number of goals with the Brazilian national team,” Pele wrote on Instagram. “We both know this is so much more than a number. Our greatest duty as athletes is to inspire. To inspire our professional colleagues of today, the next generations and, above all, to inspire everyone who loves our sport. Unfortunately, the day is not the happiest for us, but you will always be the source of inspiration that many aspire to become. I’ve learned that the more time passes, the more our legacy grows. My record was set almost 50 years ago, and no one has been able to approach it until now. You made it, boy. It values the greatness of your achievement.”
(Agencies; Picture Courtesy: Reuters)