One of the most enduring sports figures of all time, Pele passed away on Thursday (December 29). He was 82. He had undergone treatment for colon cancer for some time.
Pele’s agent Joe Fraga confirmed his death with The Associated Press.
A winner of three World Cups — the only player to ever do so — for his native Brazil, Pele put futbol on the map across the world over.
He was once knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997. He was also a politician — Brazil’s Extraordinary Minister for Sport — a wealthy businessman, and an ambassador for UNESCO and the United Nations.
At the tail end of his career, at age 34, he played for the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League, and led the franchise to the 1977 league title, and scored 64 goals in three seasons. His final game, an exhibition between the Cosmos and Santos scored over 77,000 spectators at Giants Stadium.
Reaction on social media was somber and reflective.