Messi, Jaylen Brown, sports world pay respect to soccer icon Pelé originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Brazilian football legend Pele died on Thursday at the age of 82 in Sao Paolo. The only three-time World Cup winner and owner of countless records, his reputation as "the greatest" is well deserved.
Pele had reportedly been sick for some time now, having been diagnosed with colon cancer over a year ago. Rumors initially emerged during the group stage of the World Cup last month that he was entering hospice. However, his family refuted that claim and he continued to chime in on the World Cup action via Twitter.
His death immediately sparked an outpouring of emotions on Twitter, with tributes ranging from every corner of the sports community to international figures.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele made his World Cup debut in 1958 at the age of 17. He scored two of Brazil's five goals to beat Sweden and become the first-ever teenager to score in the finals. In the 64 years since that electric performance, Kylian Mbappe is the only other player to make that list of teenage goalscorers.
The 1958 World Cup also gave way to one of the sport's most respected traditions -- the sanctitude of No. 10. The revered status of No. 10, often reserved for strikers and key leaders, was accidental.
Speaking to SporTV News back in 2012, Pele said "Nobody was that important to wear the No.10 and even though I was not the oldest player in the squad, it coincidentally dropped to me to wear at the World Cup."
While the circumstances of handing a 17-year-old substitute the token No. 10 kit were unusual, he made the most of the opportunity and became synonymous with coveted jersey.
From a pair of No. 10s...
...to one of the most creative scorers.
Pele is known for his contributions on the World Cup stage, but his legacy is a reflection of the global impact of soccer.
With the exception of a two-year stint with the New York Cosmos near the end of his career, all of Pele’s club career was spent with Santos, the Sao Paulo club that signed him at 15 years old.
Still, clubs around the world joined Brazil in honoring the soccer giant.
Over the course of his 14 year career with the Selecao, Pele only lost one World Cup -- the 1966 tournament held in London. This so happens to be the Three Lions’ only championship and the site of the first-ever finals hat trick, scored courtesy of England’s Geoff Hurst.
Several other English legends -- past and present -- chimed in with their thoughts on Pele’s career.
In the U.S., Pele’s skills transcended the soccer pitch, converting him to a cultural icon and part-time diplomat. Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan all hosted the Brazilian throughout their terms and Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both met Pele while visiting his home country.
Athletes beyond soccer took to Twitter to offer their condolences and remember his impact on the sports community at large.
Pele’s death comes just two years after Argentine legend Diego Maradona died at age 60. While the two narrowly missed each other on the pitch, their careers -- particularly in retirement -- were deeply intertwined as the faces of two of the greatest -- and neighboring -- football countries.