The soccer world suffered a crushing blow Thursday with the death of Brazilian legend Pelé – widely considered the greatest to ever play the game – at the age of 82 after a battle with colon cancer.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber released the following statement upon learning of the passing of Pelé:
"Major League Soccer today mourns the death and celebrates the life of the incomparable global superstar, Pelé -- one of the greatest icons in the history of sport.
Pelé’s decision to bring his artistry to the United States with the New York Cosmos in the 1970s was a transformative moment for the sport in this country. As Pelé captivated fans throughout the U.S. and Canada, it demonstrated the power of the game and the limitless possibilities for the sport.
We offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends and millions of fans in Brazil and throughout the world. Pelé’s immense talent and distinctive style, combined with his charisma, kindness and humanitarian efforts, will never be forgotten."
A three-time World Cup winner (1958, 1962, 1970), "O Rei" captivated fans around the globe and elevated the sport to a new level with his goalscoring prowess, technical ability, grace and charisma.
The player to which all others were subsequently compared, Pelé became a sporting icon along the lines of Muhammad Ali and a household name throughout the planet. He even left his indelible mark on the previously barren soccer landscape of the United States, bringing the beautiful game to the American masses with the Cosmos between 1975-77.
His only other club was his beloved Santos, where he dazzled fans and foes alike between 1956-74. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Pelé scored 1,279 goals in 1,363 games (including friendlies).
On Thursday, the soccer community mourned Pelé: