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‘The Black Pearl’: Football Legend Pelé Passes Away at 81


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‘The Black Pearl’: Football Legend Pelé Passes Away at 81

Brazilian football star Pelé passed away on Thursday in Sao Paulo. He spent recent months in and out of the hospital and underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his colon. Football fanatics worldwide consider him to be one of the greatest athletes in the world. He rose from barefoot poverty to become one of the best-known athletes in modern history. Pelé scored a world record 1,283 goals, and is the only player ever to win the World Cup three times. He was the youngest scorer of a hat trick in the World Cup, and a holder of several other records.

The Brazilian footballer, whose birth name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was an inspiration to athletes across the globe. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and other superstars reacted on social media and tributes poured in from all around the world.

Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the highest goalscorer in the history of football. He passed Pele’s tally of 757 when he scored a hat-trick against Cagliari while playing for Juventus. The Portuguese footballer penned a heartfelt message as he wrote on Instagram.

Pelé had a huge fanbase in India for decades. In 1977, he flew down to Kolkata – the homeland of football in India – to take on Indian giants Mohun Bagan in a friendly tie at the Eden Gardens. Fans of the footballer flooded the airport upon his arrival.

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He spent the majority of his career with Santos in his homeland despite big money offers from Europe. Pele was among the best-paid athletes of his time but his earnings are dwarfed by sports stars’ incomes today.

In 1977, artist Andy Warhol produced a portrait of the athlete, on commission. He quipped: ‘Pele was one of the few who contradicted my theory: Instead of 15 minutes of fame, he will have 15 centuries.’, reported by The New York Times.

In his final years, Pelé suffered from health problems and unsuccessful hip operations left him unable to get about without the aid of a wheelchair. He spent his post-football life involved in social activism, including being a UNESCO goodwill ambassador. In 1995, he took public office in Brazil as Minister of Sports, introducing legislation that grants players their own rights after a certain age.

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