Sports, Dec 30: Pele, the magical Brazilian soccer star who rose from barefoot poverty to become one of the greatest and best-known athletes in modern history, died at 82 in Sao Paulo on Thursday. He had been in and out of the hospital in recent months after a tumor was found on his colon.

Pele’s agent Joe Fraga confirmed his death.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players, Pelé spent nearly two decades enchanting fans and dazzling opponents as the most prolific scorer with Brazilian club Santos and the Brazil national team.

Pele had been battling cancer for a while. Recently, his health condition worsened during the hospital stay to regulate his cancer medication, doctors announced earlier this week.

Pele carried Brazil to soccer’s heights and became a global ambassador for his sport. It happens in a journey that began on the streets of Sao Paulo state. The street where he would kick a sock stuffed with newspapers or rags.

In the conversation about soccer’s greatest players, only the late Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo are mentioned alongside Pelé.

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju shared the picture of Pele on Twitter and wrote The King of Kings has died. I learned about Pele before I knew the world. I grew up in remote village with Pele as my idol. He made football the most beautiful game. FIFA is “Player of the Century” but in fact, he is the greatest human superstar of all time. RIP #Pele”

As his health deteriorated, his travels and appearances became less frequent. He was often seen in a wheelchair during his final years and did not attend a ceremony to unveil a statue of him representing Brazil’s 1970 World Cup team. Pelé spent his 80th birthday isolated with a few family members at a beach home.

Also Read: These Six districts of Arunachal Pradesh experience snowfall

Born on Oct. 23, 1940, in the small Minas Gerais town of Tres Corações, or “Three Hearts”, Edson Arantes do Nascimento learned the game from his father, a semi-professional player whose promising career was derailed by a knee injury.

With sublime skills and a winning smile, he went on to score a world record of 1,281 goals and is the only player ever to win the World Cup three times.

Pele’s 1,281 goals in 1,366 games, as tabulated by FIFA’s website, came at a startling rate of 0.94 per match. Some of those were friendlies or came in games played as part of his military service, but he was just as prolific in official tournaments, with 757 goals in 812 games.

In all, Pelé played 114 matches with Brazil, scoring a record 95 goals, including 77 in official matches.