Pelé, the Brazilian virtuoso whose dazzling talent and agility established him as one of football’s greatest players, has died at the age of 82.

Pelé, who had a colon tumor removed in 2021, was readmitted to So Paulo’s Albert Einstein hospital in November due to failing health. On Thursday, a hospital statement acknowledged the death of “our beloved King of Football” at 3.27 p.m. local time, “due to the failure of many organs, a consequence of the advancement of colon cancer related with his prior clinical condition.”

“Inspiration and affection defined the path of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today,” according to a statement on Pelé’s official Instagram page. On his voyage, Edson dazzled the world with his sporting talent, put an end to a war, performed humanitarian work all over the globe, and propagated what he considered to be the answer for all our problems: love. Today, his message becomes a legacy for future generations. Forever, love, love, and love.”

Pelé said on social media on December 3 that he felt “strong, with a lot of optimism” after allegations that he was getting end-of-life treatment. Pelé “needs additional treatment relating to renal and cardiac dysfunctions,” according to a hospital statement issued on December 21st, after the “progression” of his colon cancer. His daughter Kely Nascimento’s social media postings revealed that family members had met at the hospital to spend Christmas with him.

Brazil’s equal all-time leading scorer won three World Cups as a player, in 1958, 1962, and 1970, over a 14-year international career in which he scored 77 goals in 92 matches. Pelé, often known as “the Black Pearl” and “the King,” was one of just three players to score in four World Cups. He scored 1,281 goals in 1,363 games, more than twice as many as his closest competitor at the time of his retirement in 1977.

He will be most remembered as the heart of a bewitching squad that featured Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, Gérson, Tosto, and Rivelino that stormed across Mexico, his canary yellow No 10 jersey becoming an emblem of the sport.

Brazil’s 1970 World Cup champions were hailed as “more than a team” by World Soccer, who added, “The Brazilian side that won the 1970 World Cup in such style have become a myth, a team to be held up as the greatest exponents of the beautiful game.” Pelé was their inspiration and role model.

Brazil’s government proclaimed three days of mourning, and the arch at Wembley Stadium was lighted in Brazilian colors, as sports celebrities and leaders of state paid tribute to the man who climbed from childhood poverty to become a legend.

Pelé, who was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on October 23, 1940, started his professional career at the age of 15 and made his international debut a year later. In a survey of Ballon d’Or winners in 1999, he was elected player of the century, and Time magazine named him one of the 100 most important individuals of the twentieth century.

Pelé’s celebrity in his prime was such that he was invited to audiences with popes and heads of state, his allure so great that when the ill-fated New York Cosmos sought a marquee name to launch a soccer assault on America in the 1970s, Pelé was one of the very few footballers recognized by the wider American public.

Pelé had already had surgery in November 2012, having a hip replacement while trying to deal with life on the road, and had subsequently developed a urinary infection after undergoing kidney operations to remove stones.

Pelé has curtailed his personal appearances in recent years, including a February 2020 absence from a ceremony to unveil a monument of him symbolizing the 1970 World Cup-winning squad due to mobility issues that caused the Brazilian to use walkers and wheelchairs in public.

“Ask me who is the greatest right-back in Brazil, and I’ll answer Pelé,” Joo Saldanha, the coach who helped develop the 1970 team, once stated. Inquire about the best left-back, midfielder, or center-forward. I always have to mention Pelé. He’ll be a goalie if he wants to be. There can only be one Pelé.”

“I had the advantage that younger Brazilians did not have: I watched Pele play, live, at Pacaembu and Morumbi,” stated Brazil’s president-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. No, I witnessed Pele put on a performance.

“Because whenever he received the ball, he did something extraordinary, which frequently resulted in a goal.”

Former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff wrote: “Thank you for the pleasure you brought the Brazilian people and the people of the globe. No one has ever been a more beloved monarch.”