On December 29, the news broke that Pelé, one of the greatest figures in the history of football, had passed away. Often called the ‘Black Pearl,’ the Brazilian was the only three-time world champion footballer.
Pelé, who was born as Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2021 and has since been in a fluctuating state. The footballer was readmitted to hospital in early December, where it was discovered that his body had stopped responding to chemotherapy treatments and he was put on palliative care, which was no longer aimed at curing the disease but at reducing his pain.
The iconic figure of football was remembered by several Hungarians, including Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who wrote on his Facebook page that “the greatest has gone.”
Marco Rossi, the national captain of the Hungarian national football team, also said goodbye to Pelé on his social media page, with a photo of him and a caption that read ‘Rest in Peace.’ Many Hungarian public figures said goodbye to the legend on social media, many with a photo of Pelé with Ferenc Puskás, the greatest figure in Hungarian football.
Pelé and Puskás knew each other personally, and while the world considers Pelé to be the most successful footballer ever, Pelé considered Puskás to be the most successful. The two players met for the first time in 1959, when they both scored in a Real Madrid-Santos gala match. It was then that the iconic photo of the two was taken, which has since been shared by many and used by many to bid farewell to Pelé. According to the Brazilian footballer, Puskás was not only a great player, but also a great man.
According to Charles Camenzuli, European President of AIPS and President of the Malta Sports Journalists Association, there were many similarities between Pelé (left) and Ferenc Puskás, even if they played in different eras.
Pelé made his senior debut at the age of 15 with Santos, a Brazilian football club, that won the national championship six times and the state championship 10 times. He was only 16 when he was called up to the Brazilian national team and was part of the World Cup squad in Sweden in 1958, where he won his first World Cup gold medal.
Four years later, in Chile, the Brazilian team defended their title, although Pele played little because he was injured in the second match. At the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, he was thinking of withdrawing from the national team, but eventually joined up and became a three-time world champion. At that World Cup, Pelé was directly involved in 53% of Brazil’s goals and was voted the tournament’s best player.
In total, he made 92 appearances for Brazil, scoring 77 times, which is still a record for Brazil. In his entire career, Pelé scored 1,281 times in 1,363 matches.
After his retirement, the Brazilian football legend was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 1994, served as Brazil’s Minister of Sport from 1995-1998, and appeared in numerous TV shows, documentaries, and films. In 1997, Pele was awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom at Buckingham Palace.
Declared a national treasure of Brazil in 1961, Pelé was named Sportsman of the Century by the International Olympic Committee, Footballer of the Century by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), and was awarded the title of Footballer of the Century by FIFA in 2014.
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