UNESCO ‘deeply saddened’ over death of football legend, Pelé

Fri, Dec 30, 2022
By editor


THE United Nations  Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has mourned the Brazilian football legend, Pele, who died at the age of 82.

Pelé, who many regard as the greatest player of all time, died in hospital in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

He had been undergoing treatment for colon cancer since 2021.

UNESCO tweeted that it was “deeply saddened” at his passing, and extended condolences to the Brazilian people, and the wider “football family”.

The UN agency said that he had “worked relentlessly to promote sport as a tool for peace. He will be greatly missed.”

Similarly, in a tweet, the head of UN refugee agency, UNHCR, Filippo Grandi, wrote that “we are all with the people of Brazil”.

“We are celebrating a man who made millions of kids dream across continents, and generations.”

As a 17-year-old, Pelé won his first football or soccer World Cup, in 1958, going on to lift the top trophy in the game a further two times, in 1962 and 1970.

He scored a world record 1,281 goals, playing in 1,363 games during his professional career, which began when he was just 15.

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, in 1940, the football giant, nicknamed, “the Black Pearl”, and “the King”, retired from the game in 1977.

In 1999, the Santos player and Brazil’s most venerated star, was voted player of the century in a poll of previous Ballon d’Or winners – the players who win the annual global football award for being the outstanding performers that year.

He devoted considerable time in retirement to supporting the UN and its work, both as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, and as a UNESCO Champion for Sport, from 1994.

He was also appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the crucial UN Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992, one of the first major global development and environment summits devoted to a more sustainable future for all.

At the time, the Secretary-General of the Summit, Maurice Strong, described him as not only the greatest footballer in the world, but “a universal man”, rooted in Brazil.

“His commitment to people, to the planet, really distinguish him a true citizen of our earth,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Pelé, burst onto the world soccer scene at age 16, excelling both for club team Santos and the Brazilian national side.

By the end of his career, Pelé had won three FIFA World Cups with Brazil, the most wins of the World Cup by any player.

Pelé’s first World Cup win came in Sweden in 1958, a tournament in which the phenom played an instrumental role.

He provided an assist for a goal in his only first-round-match appearance, before scoring the only goal in a quarterfinal victory over Wales.

He scored a hat-trick in the semi-final victory against France, before netting a brace in the 5-2 final over the hosts.

He would earn his second trophy in the very next tournament, in Chile in 1962, although his contributions would be much more limited. After scoring and assisting in Brazil’s 2-0 opening win against Mexico, Pelé would injure himself in the very next match and miss the remainder of the tournament.

But Brazil would continue down the path upon which they’d been set by their talisman in claiming a second straight cup, the last nation to do so and one of only two ever.

Pelé’s third and final triumph came in 1970, returning to World Cup play after vowing to never play in the competition again in the wake of the brutal targeted tackling he suffered throughout the 1966 tournament.

He made the right decision – not only did Pelé play well in Mexico, he won the Golden Ball, scoring four goals, the pick of which was the opener in the 4-1 final victory over Italy.(NAN)