Mumbai: Called by various names such as ‘Gasolina’, ‘The Black Pearl’ and ‘O Rei’ (The King), the nickname that stuck like glue to Edson Arantes do Nascimento, who, as ‘Pele’, became the greatest footballer the world has ever known.
It is with that name he left the world as the most cherished and loved sports star we have ever seen.
Pele, 82, passed away in a private hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, after spending nearly a month, battling complications related to advanced cancer.
He had a colon tumor removed in September 2021 and neither his family, nor doctors, specified whether it had spread to other organs. He was recently under “elevated care” related to “kidney and cardiac dysfunction”.
Labelled “the greatest” by FIFA, football’s world governing body, named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee in 1999 and included in TIME Magazine’s list of 100 most important people of the 20th century, Pele was in 2000 voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century award.
But for millions of fans of the game around the globe, Pele was the first person who made football Jogo Bonito, “the beautiful game”.
He was the original No. 10 of world football, a number now sported by Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbapp. He was the genius who played the game with passion and was so unstoppable that fouling him was the only option for the numerous defenders that he faced.
A player of sublime skills, great presence in the field, immaculate positional sense, magical dribbling skills, two brilliant feet and a devastatingly powerful shot, right-footed Pele was thus far the only footballer to have lifted the World Cup thrice — 1958, 1962 and 1970.