Soccer legend Pelé had an important Seattle connection
Pelé, the Brazilian king of soccer who won a record three World Cups and became one of the most commanding sports figures of the last century, died Thursday. He was 82.
The standard-bearer of “the beautiful game” had undergone treatment for colon cancer since 2021. He had been hospitalized for the last month with multiple ailments.
Pelé has a connection with Seattle. He opened the Kingdome.
At the time, The Seattle Times reported: “On April 9, 1976, Pele’s New York Cosmos defeated the Seattle Sounders 3-1 in front of 58,128 at the first-ever sporting event held in the Kingdome. The Brazilian legend scored the go-ahead goal in the third minute and the winner in the 87th. And in a potential foreshadowing of the coverage of Seattle’s first few seasons in MLS, the event was treated more as a novelty than anything else. ‘Kingdome sports opener,’ read the headline of the Seattle Times preview story. Afterward: ‘58,000 — and soccer to boot.'”
Widely regarded as one of soccer’s greatest players, Pelé spent nearly two decades enchanting fans and dazzling opponents as the game’s most prolific scorer with Brazilian club Santos and the Brazil national team.
His grace, athleticism, and mesmerizing moves transfixed players and fans. He orchestrated a fast, fluid style that revolutionized the sport — a samba-like flair that personified his country’s elegance on the field.
He carried Brazil to soccer’s heights and became a global ambassador for his sport in a journey that began on the streets of São Paulo, where he would kick a sock stuffed with newspapers or rags.
In the conversation about soccer’s greatest players, only the late Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo are mentioned alongside Pelé.
Quotes from The Seattle Times and The Associated Press contributed to this story