Football

Brazil announces three days of mourning in honour of Pele

Pele, who passed away on Thursday at 82, was honoured with three days of national mourning by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Pele, who passed away on Thursday at 82, was honoured with three days of national mourning by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

The outgoing president, leaving office on Sunday, issued the proclamation in an additional edition of the government gazette.

In his 21 years as a professional player, Pele scored a record-breaking 1,281 goals and made 1,363 total appearances, with 77 of those goals coming in 92 international matches.

Pele was honoured as Fifa’s Player of the Century in 2000, making him the only player to win the award. His three World Cup victories were in 1958, 1962, and 1970.

In recent years, he had experienced a decline in his kidney function and issues with his prostate.

A tumour in Pele’s colon was discovered during routine screenings, prompting him to have surgery in September 2021 at Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein Hospital. Late in November of 2022, he was readmitted to the hospital.

Kely Nascimento, his daughter, has been keeping followers on social media updated on her father’s status at the hospital.

On Thursday, she shared a photo to Instagram showing what appeared to be Pele’s family members placing their hands on his hospital bed, with the caption: “Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”

Pele, as Edson Arantes do Nascimento, shot to fame at the tender age of 17 when he earned a starting spot for Brazil in the latter stages of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

He netted the game-winner in a 1-0 quarterfinal victory over Wales, a hat trick in a 4-1 semi-final victory over France, and a pair of goals in a 5-2 title victory over the hosts.

Pele scored in his first game for Santos, a 7-1 victory over Corinthians de Santo Andre when he was 15.

In the 19 years that followed, he would score 643 goals for the club in official competitions; however, Santos believes the total is more than 1,000 when exhibition matches, frequently against high-profile European opponents, are included.

Pele, at 21 years old, opened the 1962 World Cup with a magnificent individual goal in a 2-0 victory over Mexico. However, he was injured in the next match and had to sit out as Brazil successfully defended their title.

The third and last World Cup victory was his most memorable. After being sent home from the 1966 tournament in England due to a foul, he became the catalyst for an exciting attacking squad that ran away with the title in 1970, beating Italy 4-1 in the final.

Pele’s magical moments have dictated the course of soccer history, from his embrace with England’s captain Bobby Moore to the time he cried on the breast of teammate Nilton Santos in celebration.

Before retiring from professional soccer, he played for the New York Cosmos alongside German superstar Franz Beckenbauer and fellow 1970 World Cup champion Carlos Alberto.

“In music there is Beethoven and the rest. In football, there is Pele and the rest,” he declared in 2000.

BBC Sport ran a survey in 2020, and the results showed that Pele, not Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona, or Johan Cruyff, was the best player of all time.

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