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Neymar pays tribute to Pele after Brazil legend passes on aged 82

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By Martin Graham | 31st Dec 2022

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, the man known and loved in Brazil and worldwide as Pelé, has passed on after a lengthy battle with colon cancer.

He spent the last few months in hospital treating what would be his final illness on earth but he lost the battle on Thursday 29 December, 2022, aged 82. He was surrounded by loved ones who saw him off.

His daughter, Kely Nascimento, confirmed the news of his passing on Instagram, writing: “Everything we are is thanks to you. We love you infinitely. Rest in peace.”

A post was also put out on Pele’s Instagram page that read: “Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today. On his journey, Edson enchanted the world with his genius in sport, stopped a war, carried out social works all over the world and spread what he most believed to be the cure for all our problems: love. His message today becomes a legacy for future generations. Love, love and love, forever.”

The world has paid tribute to the legendary striker whose talents lit up the world for almost 30 years. Alongside Lionel Messi, Pelé is a record seven-time Ballon d’Or winner after France Football reissued the awards in the 2010s. He is also one of the few players with the most World Cup trophies (three), two of which were won before he turned 24 years old.

His goal-scoring exploits are the stuff of legend, having been touted to have scored over 1,000 goals in his senior career although the official records stand at just over 700. Pelé also served as a member of the parliament in the Brazilian government at some point in his lifetime.

An outpouring of love and respect for the legend has followed since his passing, and Brazil’s new legend, Neymar, has led those tributes with a very emotional statement following Pelé’s passing from this world.

Neymar, who recently scored his 77th goal to match Pelé’s record as Brazil’s all-time leading goalscorer, stated that the number 10 was just a number in football until Pelé, and that his legend will live forever.

The PSG star hailed the impact he had on football and underlined the fact his legacy will live on. He wrote on social media: “Before Pelé, 10 was just a number. I’ve read this phrase somewhere, at some point in my life. But this sentence, beautiful, is incomplete.

“I would say before Pelé football was just a sport. Pelé has changed it all. He turned football into art, into entertainment He gave voice to the poor, to the blacks and especially: He gave visibility to Brazil. Soccer and Brazil have raised their status thanks to the King! He’s gone but his magic remains. Pelé is FOREVER!!”

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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