He wasn't just a giant in the world of soccer. He was, as the AP puts it, "one of the most commanding sports figures of the last century." Pele, the Brazilian legend, died Thursday at age 82. He had been hospitalized in Sao Paolo, Brazil, for the last month with COVID complications, after having undergone surgery for colon cancer last year. The Washington Post notes that Pele had been nicknamed the "king of soccer," but suggests his other nickname of Perola Negra, or Black Pearl, "best evoked the rare brilliance he packed into his diminutive frame."
In 1958, at age 17, Pele became the youngest scorer ever in the World Cup, notes NBC, and the record stands to this day. He would go on to play more than 1,300 games and logged nearly 1,300 goals, all told. CNN calls him soccer's "first global icon" and notes he is the only player to have won three World Cups. Whether he is the greatest of all time is a matter of debate, but the AP lists only Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo as other possibilities. (Read more obituary stories.)