Pele dies: CBF president hails 'eternal' legend as 'the greatest athlete of all time'

By Sports Desk December 29, 2022

Pele remains "eternal" and will be remembered as "the greatest athlete of all time", Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues said after the 82-year-old's death.

The three-time World Cup winner's passing was confirmed on Thursday by his daughter after his battle with colon cancer.

Former forward Pele had been moved to palliative care early in December and his family travelled to be by his side at the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo before Christmas Day.

The hospital confirmed Pele died after suffering multiple organ failure.

Tributes have poured in from players, clubs and sporting organisations after Pele's legendary impact on football, with Rodrigues declaring official mourning for seven days.

"I am deeply moved by Pele's departure. The CBF will pay all possible tributes to the greatest athlete of all time," a CBF statement from Rodrigues read. 

"Pele is eternal and we will always work to preserve his history and perpetuate his legacy."

Pele helped Brazil to World Cup success in 1958, 1962 and 1970, with no player in the tournament's history winning it more than him.

His 77-goal haul at international level is yet to be surpassed by a Brazilian player, though it was matched by Neymar with his World Cup quarter-final goal against Croatia at Qatar 2022 this month.

Pele left a lasting legacy at Santos as well, scoring 643 goals in 659 matches over an 18-year period, and Rodrigues recalled first seeing the legend in action.

"I still remember today the emotion of seeing Pele in action in Ilheus when the city's national team faced Santos in 1967," he added. 

"I was only 13 years old and I was impacted. He scored one of the goals. Two years later, I travelled to Salvador to watch his 1,000th goal, which ended up not happening. 

"Nildo took the goal almost on the line. Practically the entire Fonte Nova and I booed the Bahia defender. Three days later, the King scored his 1,000th goal in Rio against Vasco."

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