In this file photo taken on June 10, 2013, Brazilian football legend Pele, signs a national team shirt during a press conference at Volkswagen plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo, in Sao Paulo. On April 26, 2023, "pele" was added to the more than 167,000 words in the Michaelis Portuguese dictionary printed in Brazil. Image Credit: AFP

Sao Paulo: A Brazilian dictionary has added “Pele” as an adjective to use when describing someone who is “exceptional, incomparable, unique.”

The announcement by the Michaelis dictionary on Wednesday is part of a campaign that gathered more than 125,000 signatures to honor the late soccer great's impact beyond his sport.

The three-time World Cup champion died in December at age 82 after a fight against colon cancer.

The dictionary entry reads: “The one that is extraordinary, or who because of his quality, value or superiority cannot be matched to anything or anyone, just like Pele; nickname of Edson Arantes do Nascimento (1940-2022), considered the best athlete of all time; exceptional, incomparable, unique. Examples: He is the Pele of basketball, she is the Pele of tennis, she is the Pele of Brazilian theater, he is the Pele of medicine.”

Brazilian football legend Pele
Brazilian football legend Pele

The Pele Foundation, Santos FC — where he played most of his career — and many Brazilians celebrated the decision by the publishers of one of the country's most popular dictionaries.

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“The expression that was already used to refer to the best at something is already eternal in the pages of the dictionary,” Pele's social media channels said after the announcement. “We made history together and put the name of the King of Soccer into the Portuguese language. Pele means ‘THE BEST’.”

Pele 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. In the conversation about soccer’s greatest, only the late Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are mentioned alongside.