Football great Pelé, who inspired a momentary ceasefire during the Nigerian civil war, passes away aged 82

Football great Pelé, who inspired a momentary ceasefire during the Nigerian civil war, passes away aged 82

Arguably the greatest human to ever kick a football, the Brazilian icon finally loses his battle with colon cancer

Football great Edson Arantes do Nascimento ‘Pelé’ who is widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all time has died today, Thursday, December 29, 2022, aged 82.

The details of his demise are yet to be made public but the Brazilian king of soccer was under treatment for colon cancer since 2021. Pelé had spent the last month hospitalised with multiple ailments.

Pele’s legacy

Born on 23 October 1940, Pelé began playing for Santos at age 15 and the Brazil national team at 16.

He won six Campeonato Brasileiro Série A titles, two Copa Libertadores trophies, and two Intercontinental Cup honours with Santos.

But it is with Brazil that he attained legendary status.

Pelé became the first and only player to date to win the FIFA World Cup three times, leading Brazil to lift the trophy in 1958, 1962, and 1972.

The former New York Cosmos star won numerous individual honours, including being named the Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee.

Pelé was elected Citizen of the World, by the United Nations in 1977 and at his death, he was among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century. 

The retired striker was for a long time without equal as the greatest football to ever played the beautiful game until his old rival and late friend Diego Maradona came into the picture.

Recently, the conversation about soccer’s greatest players has included Argentina’s great Lionel Messi and Portuguese icon Cristiano Ronaldo.

Pele is believed to have scored more than 1000 goals in a career that spanned over twenty years.

Pele’s Nigerian connection 

Interestingly, Pele’s connection with Nigeria is the stuff of fairytales. 

At the peak of his fame, Pele is often commended for inspiring a momentary ceasefire during the Nigerian civil war in the late sixties. 

The football legend arrived in Nigeria with Santos FC during the Biafra civil war to play a couple of friendly matches with a selected Nigeria XI.

And Pele’s presence encouraged the government forces and the freedom fighters to agree to a pause in hostilities so that Pele’s Santos could play. 

The infamous incident inspired the concept behind Santos’s third kit released a few months ago ahead of the 2022-2023 season. 

May your soul rest in perfect peace, O Rei.

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