Pele at the NSCAA convention in Pittsburgh in 1992. (Michael Lewis/

Pele, the only person to have won three World Cups and who helped start a soccer boom in the United States with the New York Cosmos, died on Thursday.

The Brazilian soccer legend, considering by many to be the greatest soccer player ever, was 82.

Pele had undergone treatment for colon cancer since 2021 and had been hospitalized for the last month with multiple ailments.

He helped Brazil to three world championships – as a 17-year-old in 1958 and in 1962 and 1970.

Born as Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele dazzled fans not only in his native country, but through the world with his ability to score goal, some of them pretty ones.

He eventually became an international ambassador to the sport.

After completing his career with Santos in Brazil, Pele joined the Cosmos in 1975 and played with them for three seasons in the North American Soccer League before hanging up his cleats for good in 1977. The Cosmos defeated the Seattle Sounders, 2-1, in Soccer Bowl 1977.

His presence in America helped start a soccer boom at the youth level that has helped turn the U.S. into a competitive country in the sport.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at