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Soccer legend Pelé dies at 82

Soccer legend Pelé died Thursday at the Hopsital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo by Fernando Bizerra Jr./EPA-EFE
1 of 6 | Soccer legend Pelé died Thursday at the Hopsital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo by Fernando Bizerra Jr./EPA-EFE

Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Brazilian soccer icon Pelé has died after battling cancer, his family announced Thursday on social media. He was 82.

"Everything we are is thanks to you," Pelé's daughter, Kely Nascimento, wrote on Instagram. "We love you infinitely. Rest in peace."

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Edson Arantes do Nascimento, widely known as Pelé, died at the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The hospital said last week that his colon cancer had progressed and continued to impact his kidney and heart function.

"The Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein regretfully confirms the death of Pelé, today, December 29, 2022, at 3:27 p.m, due to multiple organ failure, a result of the progression of colon cancer associated to his previous clinical condition," the hospital said in a news release.

"Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein sympathizes with "the family and everyone who suffers from the loss of our dear King of Football."

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Pelé's cancer was discovered when he underwent colon tumor removal surgery in 2021.

Pelé was admitted to the hospital Nov. 29 for a respiratory infection, and was re-evaluated for the chemotherapy treatment. Pele also dealt with COVID-19 while hospitalized.

"Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pele, who peacefully passed away today," a message posted to Pelé's Instagram account said.

"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."

Tributes to Pelé flooded social media Thursday afternoon, with messages from the Brazilian Football Confederation and from other national teams, leagues and players from around the world, including Neymar Jr., Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Some soccer teams also honored Pelé before their matches.

"Before Pelé, 10 was just a number," Brazilian soccer star Neymar wrote on Instagram. "I've read this phrase somewhere, at some point in my life. But this sentence, beautiful, is incomplete.

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"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!"

The three-time World Cup champion scored 12 times in 14 career appearances at the tournament. He scored nearly 1,300 goals over his professional career.

"My deep condolences to all of Brazil, and in particular to the family of Edson Arantes do Nascimento," Cristiano Ronaldo wrote on Instagram. "A mere 'goodbye' to the eternal King Pelé will never be enough to express the pain that the entire football world is currently embracing.

"An inspiration to so many millions, a reference yesterday, today and forever. The love you always showed me was reciprocated in every moment we shared even from distance. He will never be forgotten and his memory will live forever in each and every one of us football lovers. Rest in peace King Pelé."

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Anita Pointer of the Grammy-winning Pointer Sisters stands with Andy Madadian (C) and La Toya Jackson (L) as Madadian is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2020. Pointer, who performed alongside her sisters June and Ruth, died at the age of 74 on December 31 following a battle with cancer. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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