Nigerians have joined millions of soccer lovers around the world in mourning the passing of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pelé.

Brazilian soccer icon Pele, widely considered the greatest player of all time and a three-time World Cup winner who masterminded the “beautiful game,” has died at the age of 82.

He had been in and out of the hospital for the past several months after a tumor was found in his colon.

Pelé scored a world record 1,281 goals and is the only player to win the World Cup three times.

Pele’s 1,281 goals in 1,366 games, as tabulated by the FIFA website, came at a staggering rate of 0.94 per game. Some of them were friendly or came in games played as part of his military service, but he was just as prolific in official tournaments, scoring 757 goals in 812 games.

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Pelé had suffered a series of health problems in recent years, including hip surgery that left him with recurring pain and trouble walking without assistance. He cut back on his public appearances, but remained active on social media.

Tributes from Nigerians

Dayo Williams:

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“The good thing about Pele’s transition is that we won’t be short of well-written obituaries about his life and times. There are some media organizations with specialized obituary writers with an obituary desk.

“I can bet with my last card that the Washington Post or the New York Times must have started writing Pelé’s obituary over a decade ago or earlier. They would just be updating it until the very last hours. The Athletic, the sports department of the WP, will do proper justice to the commemoration of the great Pele.”

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Bukola Saraki:

“The death of Brazilian soccer legend Pelé has shaken the world. It was undeniable that he had great talent and his name will remain immortalized in our minds. He will be remembered as one of the most iconic figures in the history of the sport.

“I remember watching him play and admiring in awe his excellent football ability. He inspired generations, and his legacy will live on in the countless players he has influenced.

“Today, as the world pays tribute to one of the greatest footballers of all time, we honor his greatness and recognize the immense impact he had on the game. It’s hard to imagine a world without Pelé, but we take comfort in knowing that his memory and legacy they will live

“I express my sincerest condolences to his family, friends and the people of Brazil during this difficult time. He will be greatly missed.”