Pele once revealed that Manchester United were one of several clubs who attempted to sign the Brazilian football icon. It’s a sad day for football as Pele, among the greatest to ever play the game, has passed away at the age of 82 following a long battle with cancer. He was admitted to Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo due to “general swelling” before it was then announced in December that the disease had progressed and needed “greater care related to renal and cardiac dysfunctions”. A statement on Pele’s Instagram account read: “Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today. On his journey, Edson enchanted the world with his genius in sport, stopped a war, carried out social works all over the world and spread what he most believed to be the cure for all our problems: love. ALSO READ: World football icon and Brazil legend Pele dies aged 82 “His message today becomes a legacy for future generations. “Love, love and love, forever.” Pele is most famous for his incredible feats of skill and unique achievements while wearing the iconic yellow of Brazil. He is the only man to ever win three separate World Cups after inspiring his nation to victory in 1958, 1962 and 1970. Yet he also enjoyed a glittering club career as well. The famous No.10 spent the majority of his playing days at Sao Paulo side Santos where he won several state and national championships as well as the Copa Libertadores twice, then the Intercontinental Cup each time against Benfica and AC Milan and the Intercontinental Super Cup against Inter in 1969. If one of Europe’s top clubs had got their way, however, he would have left Santos before he got the chance to beat the Milan side. He once revealed in an interview with the Guardian in 2006 that a host of European giants attempted to bring him over from Brazil in 1968, with one of them being none other than Sir Matt Busby’s Manchester United. AC Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid all had an interest, he claimed, and when asked if any of the offers ever tempted him, Pele replied: “Manchester! I even had a proposal from Manchester United.” “Manchester United? Really?” “Yes,” he replied. “After the 1970 World Cup?” “No, 1968 . . . their best team.” That was a remarkable team. Had Pele swapped tropical Brazil for drizzly Manchester he would have formed an attack alongside George Best, Denis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton, which would have been a sight to behold. Even without Pele, later that year, United still went on to defeat Benfica 4-1 to become the first English team to lift the European Cup. While a Pele transfer to United or any European club would have had a seismic impact on the game, he turned down all offers as he wanted to remain at Santos: “No, no, no. I said no to every team who asked me,” he said. “Real Madrid was the best team who wanted me. They were a very good team. But I didn’t want to leave Santos.” Only when his playing days were coming to an end did he join another club as he ventured to New York Cosmos to take part, and win, the experimental North American Soccer League. However, there are doubts over Pele’s claims that United wanted him. A club spokesperson told the Guardian at the time: “There is nothing official in our records but this club has always been looking to attract the best players in the world – and Pele is clearly in that category.” Mark Whiley, the curator of Manchester United’s museum, said: “It’s the first we had heard of it.” Wilf McGuinness, who worked with Busby before replacing him as manager, did offer a shard of hope: “It would have been wonderful if it had happened. It’s the first I’ve heard of it as well, but if he [Busby] was speaking to someone as special as Pele, he could be forgiven for keeping it as quiet as possible.” READ MORE: United stars pay tribute to Pele Get all the latest United news here Mourinho has told United what they want to hear Depay transfer would help United in two ways What United players think about playing with Casemiro Story SavedYou can find this story in My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.